Sound — 4
Hailing from Sweden, Sonic Syndicate would get the urge to throw their hat into the ring of metal music after being inspired by the 21st-century torch-carrying metalcore/death metal bands like Killswitch Engage and All That Remains, as well as Sweden's own death metal gems, In Flames and Soilwork (which is funny because Sonic Syndicate sound a lot like Atreyu more than anything else). With their debut album, "Eden Fire," Sonic Syndicate would show a promising sound blending a tough metalcore sound with a copious amount of synthesizers (decide for yourself whether you want to call it melodic death metal or not), and their follow-up album, "Only Inhuman," would further reinforce Sonic Syndicate's foothold in the genre. However, as they progressed, they've started to venture further and further towards a commercial-friendly sound, which would upset those that were on board with Sonic Syndicate's early albums. This growing revilement would reach its peak when Sonic Syndicate released their fourth album, "We Rule the Night," which mixed hard rock, nu-metal and even dance music while putting the biting metalcore element in the backseat. It's not hard to see that this shook up Sonic Syndicate. After taking a three-year-long hiatus and losing founding members and brothers Richard and Roger Sjunnesson, the band would finally get back together to record again, and have now released their fifth studio album, "Sonic Syndicate."
Just from the eponymous album title and its album art that bears motifs found in their earlier albums, you can tell that Sonic Syndicate wish to hit the reset button on things, and at the verse of the first song, "Day of the Dead," they display that they're abandoning the softer metal styles explored in "We Rule the Night" and jumping back into the pool of metalcore, but once you get to the pop-metal chorus, you'll realize that it can't all be undone. While there are a few songs that boast some feasible metalcore energy, like "My Revenge," "See What I See," and "Before You Finally Break" (which, to Sonic Syndicate's joy, features Björn "Speed" Strid of Soilwork), the album's attempt to come back swinging with a harder metalcore sound ends up falling into a monotony of rhythmic chugging, unambitious lead lines, and made-for-radio choruses. However, for those that are unsatisfied by that overarching problem will be even more aggravated by "Unbreakable" and "So Addicted," which, while sounding a bit tougher than anything on "We Rule the Night," is composed in the similar mentality of ballad-y commercial metal. Sonic Syndicate may have tried to step away from all that transpired in "We Rule the Night," but the tracks from their footsteps still remain.
Lyrics — 5
Sonic Syndicate may juggle a few different lyrical topics throughout the album, but those topics are pretty standard. There are your songs about frustrated love, like "Day of the Dead," "So Addicted," "My Revenge," where the growling over poisonous relationships seems to fulfill the role of being like Adele for tough guys. In tangent to songs adversarially directed towards others, songs like "Black Hole Halo" and "Catching Fire" may not deal with any girlfriends/fiancés/wives, but they still bear the caustic and spiteful summation of "f--k you" to that person that you're just against. There are your songs about self-hatred with the possible chance of redemption, which take forms in the angsty "It Takes Me" and "See What I See," as well as the more positive "Long Road Home," and in contrast, "Unbreakable" is the designated song on the album to carry a wholly uplifting message. The topics may be beaten paths, and the songs may contain a surplus of clichéd lines that render the writing fairly unambitious, but it at least has more bite to it than anything that was written on "We Rule the Night," and even if it's just one step, it's a step in a better direction.
Overall Impression — 5
Even aside from the uncanny familiarity in the chuggy rhythms and harsh vocals, it's strange how similar Sonic Syndicate is to Atreyu. With their early albums having heavy and satisfying compositions to them, both bands would fall from grace by going softer and less potent in their later albums, and you can draw a parallel between "Sonic Syndicate" and Atreyu's fifth album, "Congregation of the Damned," due to both albums attempting to reach back to the aggressive appeal of the bands' earlier sounds, but they don't succeed. "Sonic Syndicate" may be tougher than the self-neutering "We Rule the Night" (as if that's a challenging thing to pull off), but it won't satisfy those who were hoping that Sonic Syndicate could make another album like "Eden Fire" or "Only Inhuman" - ultimately, "Sonic Syndicate" is meek.