Shade Empire – Sinthetic – 3.5/5
An artist I’ve known about for a while, undecided as to whether I really liked them or not, on one hand hating their generic nature and on the other enjoying the originality that is seldom seen in such a genre; a Finnish melodic black/death that can’t even be original enough to escape a generic ‘extreme’ moniker, for the most part doing nothing outside the box, thrust into obscurity by the unnatural inclusion of industrial overtones. More than overtones in fact, an industrially toned core to their sound that presents itself in both simplistic atmospheric chords and the distinctly electronic riffs layered on top of their sound, both provided by the keyboardist.
The bass is impossible to hear and I’m not sure if the drummer was intentionally trying to sound like a drum machine, but either way he demonstrates mixed results, occasionally lending interesting fills to an otherwise standard affair style. The vocals are higher pitched than normal and lend enough variety to stave off sounding tired and monotonous and the guitars mix things up with all the Gothenburg chugging and open chords that we could come to expect from an ‘Slaughter of the Soul’ fanboy believing the sheer unconventionality of gallop picking will never go out of style.
But they were never the aspect that interested me to begin with, the use of keyboards making or breaking the track; the full blown electronica break down in the aptly titled 'pain and pleasure,' complete with the same god awful vocoder effects Cher popularised with ‘Believe’ and drumming that would make ‘Pendulum’ disappointed a rare abomination to an otherwise fairly effective trick. It is the work of this one musician that lends the epic and atmospheric chords in the same manner as many symphonic black metal artists, providing many of the lead riffs (e.g. ‘Designed for Blood’) as well as the neo-classical interludes to the extent that this at times feels more like a solo project than the collaborative work of five musicians.
I may groan at the unoriginality of misspelling of ‘synthetic,’ evidently in an attempt to be somehow intelligent, and I have no qualms pointing out that this band is nothing more than another one of ‘those Bodom clones’ with a cheap gimmick attached to their sound in a sordid attempt to promote themselves as ‘original,’ but it does kind of work. Commendably, they never abandon the sterility of the industrial effects but it is when these aspects fail to produce the goods that the music descends into tedious mediocrity, and if he were to ever leave, well I have difficulty imagining how he could be replaced. There is certainly something of value here for melodeath fans but some caution is perhaps advised.
Highlights: Human Sculpture, Designed for Blood, Creation of Death
Over the years this has grown into my own personal project, reviewing the artists that I discover and interest me. If you wish to see more of my work, particularly my more metal-orientated material, you can find me as a regular contributor for the online magazine
Posted by T. Bawden Sunday, 3 January 2010