Young label Pivotal Rockordings (from the same folks who brought you Pivotal Rage webzine) did well for themselves by signing Sweden's SONIC SYNDICATE as its first act. Ranging in age from a mere 17 to a ripe old 22, the members of this sextet have crafted a mature, confident album of Swedish-style melodic death metal that compares most closely with DARK TRANQUILLITY, and to some degree IN FLAMES and SOILWORK.The album is comprised of re-worked material from the band's "Black Lotus" and "Extinction" EPs, as well as three new songs. Aside from a slight style progression on the first three (new) tracks, the tunes flow together surprisingly well, never giving one the feeling that this is a collection of re-releases. When it comes to melodies, the new tracks that begin the album are the best ones, "Jailbreak" being the standout with its SOILWORK-esque chorus. Nicely done keyboard work and the female backing vocals of newest member Karin Axelsson give "History Repeats Itself" a good boost to the song quality. Shades of that classic Napalm Records sound are readily apparent as well. The keys remain a significant presence throughout the rest of the album, accenting without interfering with the dense riffs that sometimes move in lockstep with the kick drums (thought it's never overdone). The DARK TRANQUILLITY comparison is most noticeable on the re-worked material, especially on songs like the up-tempo "Misanthropic Coil" and "Lament of Innocence". Other noteworthy moments include the combination of flowing guitar harmonies and rhythmic stomp on "Soulstone Splinter", the cold keys on "Prelude to Extinction", and the gothic tones on "Crowned in Despair" and "Where the Black Lotus Grows". I know what you're thinking. There's nothing new under the sun, right? Still, SONIC SYNDICATE does maintain a sense of identity and easily stands within the top half of this over-populated genre. In short, if you are a fan of the style, "Eden Fire" is worth checking out. I doubt you will be disappointed.
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