Sound — 8
Feared is the side projecty... main band (?) "thing" of Ola Englund, a guitarist perhaps best known for his popular YouTube channel and extensive list of gear videos. Formed in 2007, the band has cut its own little groove into the Swedish metal scene, bringing a rather individualized sound that doesn't fall into one genre or another.
The last album Englund and co. put out was "Vinter" in 2013, and, at base, the sound hasn't really changed a lot: uptempo modern, dissonant death metal, add thrash, some grooves and a tiny bit of At The Gates and you've got a pretty stable if somewhat uninteresting sound, but its also one that's proving to be mutable. In this case, and this is judging from my past experience with "Vinter," Ola's further improved on his unique sense of melody that has really been brought through in "Synder."
It's the sort of slight change that can have big implications on the rest of the album. Instead of just going through straight death metal riffs, there's more dynamic content (for instance, "Dygder" and "Of Iron And Ashes"), almost bombastic, progressive chord patterns like in "By Silent Screaming" or "My Own Redemption" and a welcome touch of dissonance that's becoming a bit of a trend in recent years (yeah, thanks Gorguts).
Not to say there's nothing grounded in normality here. Tracks like "Your Demise" and "Dying Day" offer some of the best modern thrash I've heard in a long time and then there's tracks like "Of Iron and Ashes" and "The Narcissist" that are almost closer to technical death metal in some instances. Even "Wolf At the End of the World" feels like "Demigod"-era Behemoth at times, with its middle-eastern riffs, big orchestral break and crushing rhythmic swing.
That's not to mention the pristine production values on this album. Everything feels like it's been well honed through previous albums to "Synder," from the guitar tones to the mix and even the vocal technique of Mario Ramos feels like he's on the top of his game. If there was anything bad to say about the overall sound of the album, its that despite the addition of dynamics and softer sections, there's still only a singular reprieve from the bombard of sound this album throws at you: "Dygder." Now this is basically a short piano segment but, christ on a bike, this is a fantastic piece of music, a very welcome break in this album.
Lyrics — 6
One of the strongest parts of this album is Mario Ramos. Just... Mario Ramos. This guy has some serious vocal technique, covering all the typical extreme metal bases, from Lamb Of God style midrange shouts and screams to belly mushing growls and even a Fear Factory-esque clean chorus on "My Own Redemption." Really can't commend his performance better on this album.
The flip-side to this is that the lyrics on "Synder" are ridiculously dopey. Like, ham fist to the face simplicity at its finest, but nothing more than that. Featuring fantastic one liners such as "You cannot stop this putrefaction of your life!" and the really weird tale of a man talking to himself on "My Own Redemption," this is definitely a case of the lyrics being more of a rhythmic place holder than anything else, which is actually fine: it works, cuz its death metal.
Overall Impression — 7
Overall, a strong modern metal album that actually sets itself apart from peers, makes a strong foray into more progressive territory and actually covers a lot of ground in the meantime without running out of steam or ideas.
Would recommend for anyone who likes death metal, basically.
Songs to look out for: "Your Demise," "Or Iron and Ashes," "Dygder," "By Silent Screaming," "The Narcissist," "Godless Devotion."