Synastry
Blind Eyes Bleed

Although it sounds like an ominous technological term, the word Synastry actually comes from astrology, and refers to the concurrence or connection between two different signs and their influence on two individuals in a relationship. I’m not sure why the band chose this name – maybe it just sounded cool – but perhaps it’s a comment on their dual nature, which drummer Kegham Kesserian describes as “somewhere between brutal and futuristic.” In other words, industrial death metal. Or to be more specific, old-school death metal with a slight industrial edge.

The death metal part of the equation on Blind Eyes Bleed is competent and effective, though not particularly showy or adventurous. All the expected elements are here – thundering churn breaking down to lumbering chug, down-tuned guitars, garbage-disposal vocals, and a constant battery from the drums. Problem is, there’s nothing you haven’t heard before, homage or not.

Not to say that Blind Eyes Bleed doesn’t achieve a solid groove throughout – I absently found myself bobbing along each time I put this on, and tracks like “Betrayed By My Flesh” and “To Catch a Glimpse” are frenzied enough to warrant repeated – and louder – listens. However, too many of the other tracks passed by without anything to really snap me out of whatever else I was doing at the time.

This is partly due to vocalist Jimmy Anastasopoulos’ growls. They’re thick and consistent, and certainly fit with the old-skool vibe, but the steady, monotonous tone slowly saps their power away. It may be a more impressive performance in a live setting (I’ve not seen Synastry play), but here they just get old. A greater variance throughout, as heard on a track like “Visions of Anger” (also featuring guest vocalist Johan Liiva, ex-Arch Enemy) could have injected a more unpredictable menace into the experience. Synastry does try a different angle on “In Your Eyes,” enlisting clean, ethereal vocals from Alissa White Gluz from The Agonist. It’s a welcome change, but the shrill chorus brings back too many bad memories of changing the radio station each time an Evanescence song came on.

As for the industrial elements, they’re there, but again, nothing you haven’t heard before. Whirring machinery, flickering beeps and foreboding synth washes underscore each of the album’s 13 tracks, but they never impress or take control of any of the compositions, even during the breaks. It seems as if the industrial half of Synastry is more of an afterthought than anything else, which is a shame, because a denser, more inspired approach could have really elevated this experience. With so many bands having done this kind of post-Blade Runner, dystopian menace already, you really need to bring something new to compete. The work here pales in comparison to Rhys Fulber’s bristling electronics on Fear Factory‘s Demanufacture – an album that’s already 14 years old – and even that was a stripped-down version of the amazing industrial/electronic soundscapes he created with Bill Leeb in Front Line Assembly.

Here’s a suggestion: enough with the industrial edge. It’s been done. Draw from some other sphere to create some true atmosphere and impact – like contemporary action-movie scores, for instance. The day I hear a death metal band blasting along to the heroic urgency of something like Hans Zimmer’s scores from Crimson Tide or Gladiator (which are quite different than Dimmu Borgir‘s goth-pomp orchestration), that shit is getting played over and over. At the highest volume possible.

Ultimately, Blind Eyes Bleed is not a bad album – all the pieces fit together, it’s got a nicely balanced production, and it does achieve a consistent, syncopated groove throughout. But with so many other death metal bands out there showcasing ever-increasing levels of complexity, atmopshere and insanity, it fails to create anything truly memorable or cathartic, regardless of whatever additional elements Synastry has layered in.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
May 29th, 2008

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