Sound — 9
All bands mature and progress in different ways depending on their individual styles: Slipknot for example, having shed their nu-metal edge from Iowa and the self titled, started gaining a more metalcore influence in All Hope Is Gone. Sybreed began with a sound that was meant to be diversified. Slave Design is by far one of the heaviest industrial releases ever, if not the most extreme. But where to go from here? Well Antares shows that in this case, more is better: More electronics, more epic choral singing and more drumming techniques a la blast beat. In fact when all the influences combined in Antares add up together, it's not too hard to see the band had taken a step in the right direction. While Slave Design was undoubtedly heavier and more crushing, Antares is much faster and a focus on traditional metal riffs rather than Meshuggah-ish tremolos although the latter is almost a signature Sybreed trait. This combined with the thick haze of melodic electronics is much like listening to a Devin Townsend release but with more dance beats. And that's another thing to point out: in Slave Design, the dance track backdrops were only used for a few songs while as in Antares they are used, to a tasteful extent, most usually as in intro to nearly every song (In PoA/Pulse of Awakening, they are hardly used at all). While I can't fault it for being Industrial metal, the backdrops are almost obnoxious to listen to at times although a more open mind can look past it.
Lyrics — 7
The vocalist (known only as) Ben is definitely one of a kind. While in Slave Design he almost solely used growl/screams and 'husky' cleans, Antares sees him going into the stratosphere of pitch for clean singing. While it sounds a bit strained at that level (as heard in the monumental chorus of the track 'Revive My Wounds') he has improved in the clean department while still keeping his growl/scream to the same standard, even adding a death growl from time to time. Lyrics taken from the song 'Revive My Wounds': I'm searching for redemption I wish I could find an answer Words are perfect deceivers They revive my wounds forever Slave Design had a good theme going in the lyrics of each song which was about mechanical slavery, population control, etc. but Antares seems to be more self focused and negative... Dare I say emo? Not quite, but the word 'pain' and multi-adjective metaphors are used many times in Antares. It seems lyrics are perhaps a little bit of an afterthought because of the increase in musical traits and prowess in Antares.
Overall Impression — 9
Compared to Sybreeds other releases, Antares is the obvious bridge between the two: Slave Design was heavy and brutish with more of a blunt-object-meets-face record while Pulse Of Awakening is more tradition orientated and, dare I say, a little soft (apart from 'I Am Ultraviolence', which is without a doubt the most pounding song they've written). Antares combines the angrier and pounding aspect of Slave Design but has the melodic sensibility of Pulse of Awakening (if still needing a little refining). Each song is uniquely powerful in its own way, but the most grinding track is probably 'Twelve Megatons Gravity' which like POA's 'I Am Ultraviolence' has a big focus on blast beats and pseudo-black metal melodies as well as a bucket load of dance tracks (as well as being surprisingly catchy). 'Emma-0', 'Revive my Wounds', 'Neurodrive' and the 9 minute epic 'Ethernity' are the most melodic tracks which all have distinct touches and sounds to them. 'Dynamic' is what it suggests: The very opening riff sounds quite like SYL, but from there on after it's a black metal-cross-Djent hell fest with a confused ending clean section. 'Permafrost' follows a similar vein but with more clean singing. 'Ex-Inferis' sounds like slow industrial score music which is a bit of a change from the faster earlier tracks on the album and is meant to work as an interlude. 'Ego Bypass Generator' has riffs learned from (but not used in) the Eluveitie School of melodeath (think Primordial Breath') and a pretty powerful chorus. While I could say that I like PoA more than Antares (PoA is carried almost entirely by 4 songs), Antares is by far the most solid Sybreed release to date that doesn't do much wrong. It's a successful experiment that has improved over time in the right ways but still needs the edges trimming so to speak. It still retains the 'harsh' edge that's meant to go with industrial music but also has the epic choral melodies and electronics to go with it. While it isn't for everyone (mostly those who look for solo's and prog/technical riff work), it's hard to ignore such a powerful record.