Deception |Mystic Syntax, 2010|
1. Fall Into Darkness, 2. Flesh Pull, 3. Let it Change, 4. What You See, 5. Path Decision, 6. Deception, 7. Give, 8. Blasphemous, 9. Deathtrap, 10. Just Like You, 11. Saving Fate, 12. Don't Know Why
There are very different descriptions for the music of Mystic Syntax that can be found over the internet; Labeled once as cyber grunge, then industrial metal and even as techno metal another time. Every definition of them gives a glimpse on the real sound of the band, which in fact touches many metal music sub-genres thanks to heavy guitars and drums dominating most of the songs.
I had not heard of the band until they wrote me on my email. This American band, founded in Columbus, Ohio was opening shows for big electro-metal-industrial and nu metal scene names such as Dope, Genitortures, Deadstar Assembly itp. The band line-up consist of four musicians: J Syntax (voc., guitar), Rune (bass), Shaman (drums) and RE:JECt (percussion, lights for the live shows). When I asked how old they were on average (because they look young in the promotional pictures) the answer was between 32 and 20 years of age. Therefore, considering the interest which has been rising around Mystic Syntax, it may mean the band has already made an entry into alternative music history, but still, it depends on what vibes they want to continue with from this point forward.
The Deception album includes both old and new songs, but seriously, after first listening to their songs on Myspace, then comparing them in contrast to the self classification the band wrote us about in their e-mail, I wasn't convinced that they matched the goals and interest consistent with Fabryka Magazine. This is mainly due to the cyber metal touch overexposed upon their music, which was audibly overpowering, abandoning the music into a form in which we don't promote on this magazine. However, I appreciated the input and obviously difficult work the band utilized on a few songs. I would have to say “Let It Change” is the track that sounded best. I paid attention to this one the very first time, because of a very cool distortion effect layered upon the guitars and a spun riff which gave me the shivers. A similar riff also appears in the track "Don't Know Why", while guitars with a similar effect as the one described above can be heard in the track “Blasphemous". Thanks to great song arrangements and dynamic ending/intro structures I call 'cross arrangements' (Where all the spaces between tracks get filled with various forms of programming and miscellaneous recording) the music obtains a natural flow, opposite of what would be called a 'vertical arrangement' (Based on dry rhythms and emptiness between the songs) or 'horizontal arrangements' (Which can be found in electronic compositions without guitars and no strong accent points), in which it feels as if the sounds touch every cell of one's body.
I could tell at once the band had a talented guitar player who should not have any problems joining another project if he decided to leave Mystic Syntax one day. I'd have to say the same about the drummer, considering the percussive talent evident in "Let It Change", also extroverted amongst other songs which are not based on dry rhythms, but given solid depth. The secondary drummer gives the songs a new vibe during the live shows so that the band barely ever sounds the same as on the studio album. These kinds of beats depend on good mastering as well, since the drums weren't exposed over the guitars and vocals in contrast to black metal or death metal music patterns.
Cold synths typically heard in the background usually don't go beyond a certain range and in return don't usually make guitar driven music sound like electronica. However, the synths were exposed in a few songs to create either very cool backgrounds or very basic techno metal music ("Deception", "Just Like You" and partly "Blasphemous").
Also, "What You See" belongs to a set of very thoughtfully arranged tracks with interesting electronics, solid structures and the drums heavily exposed. It can be attractive to the ear; but moreover, melodic choruses become easy to remember so that you can sometimes catch yourself subconsciously singing a song later on.
There's a heavy track called "Saving Fate" with distorted guitars and a rhythmic section that was planned very well, though you can tell it might have been inspired by Fear Factory (Off of one of their better albums). "Deathtrap" also beings with heavy chords, but ends up with not quite original arrangements. Other than that, the guitars were self-defending in songs like "Just Like You", but the EBM/electro-like rhythms and mere vocals didn't put me in good mood. It's the weakest song on the album to me.
An important note should be made about the demonic song "Blasphemous", with a hybrid of both growled and melodic (again, unfortunately) vocals, distorted guitars and dynamic drumbeats leaves an interesting impression.
Smooth connections between the tracks "Deception" and "Give" earns the band additional points in this review.
It's not the power of music, but its intensity, penetration and ability to hold a stable rhythm that speak for the music of Mystic Syntax the best.
My only concern is about the vocals. J. Syntax has absolutely no problems with growling (Sometimes he sounds even like Chuck Billy from Testament!) or getting onto a higher voice in the style of SYL, Fear Factory or Mnemic's music, but he needs to practice still very hard when it comes to melodic singing with no effects, distortions, etc... I would prefer that the music of Mystic Syntax began angrily and continued heavy with no melodies and distortions in-between. That would give solid character to their music, in opposition to what I heard in "Fall Into Darkness", "Path Decision" or "Give". For instance, “Flesh Pull" began perfectly and my first thought went towards industrial metal such as Nihil, (My determinant in terms of everything greatly arranged and connected to amazing atmospheres) then J. Syntax broke in with gentle vocals and scythed my interest and high adrenaline level as well. What's the purpose of discontinuing heavy moods by entering such immature accents?
"Don't Know Why" seems to be inspired by Fear Factory as well (mainly thanks to the vocals) and finishes the album with guitar riffs layered widely.
Mystic Syntax listed a few bands which had an impact on their music, like Skinny Puppy, KMFDM, NIN, FLA, Bile, Filter and White Zombie, though I don't hear these influences that much in their songs. Other than that, there are other bands they mentioned which suit the comparison better, like Fear Factory, Mnemic, SYL, Kovenant, Psyclon Nine, Crossbreed, Mushroomhead and finally Dope. Additionally, Mystic Syntax is aquainted with Dope's drummer Angel (also in Pig, Crossbreed and Team Cybergist), who remixed five Mystic Syntax songs for the "Conception" E.P.
Since Fear Factory has been dragging themselves down by coming out with less than remarkable releases during the last few years, I'd recommend the music of Mystic Syntax instead. The band perhaps isn't as well known as Fear Factory yet, but they offer really good arrangements that grab the listener's attention. The richness of their music made me write such a detailed analysis ;)
(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, 13/09/2010. Proofreading: Scott M. Owens. Must not be used for promotional or commercial purposes. See a Legal Note for the copyrights below)
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