posted on 10/2008 By:
Fans of industrial metal, especially those that cut their teeth on the glorious, early-to-mid-90's output of Ministry and Fear Factory, have fallen on hard times. The dearth of quality acts spawned from these metallic spores has had a nearly-crippling effect on the once-promising subgenre. Cyber-disciples like Scorngrain and Kryoburn have failed to produce shockwaves powerful enough to be felt outside the confines of their mechanical enclave, largely due to a nu-metal hangover that has clouded their vision and skewed their equilibrium. Sybreed fell prey to similiar shortcomings on their debut album, 2004's Slave Design - an album aimed to take the token, requisite FF-isms and steer them down a futuristic path littered with Meshuggah-style chunk-heave. The album was a hit-or-miss affair, laden with more misses than need be mentioned. Antares, their second effort, completely eclipses their previous work; the growth and augmentation the band has undergone over the past few years has yielded impressive results. Antares is one of the best releases of this ilk in recent memory.
Instead of turning their focus to harsh angualrity and frigid abrasiveness, Sybreed eschew alienation and dole out a soul-swallowing tome of cleanly-sung anthems. Soaked in blue, wrapped in night sky, and kissed by moonlit wind, Antares rides on rails of pristine construct. The symbiosis between their industrial and metal elements is nearly flawless. Too often, similar bands are content to tack hums, chirps, and whirrs onto a groove-metal framework, settling for faux cohesion, but Sybreed have embraced their duality with a grip that renders it whole. Their guitarist/programmer, Drop, feeds a direct line of roiling, danceable energies into pulsing veins of aggression, and the result is pretty damn sexy - even recalling Front Line Assembly's most accessible moments.
Sexy is an apt description, indeed, because if it weren't for the devastating - devastating - session drumming of Dirk Verbeuren (Scarve, Soilwork), this album could be considered outright seductive. Truly, the nighttime haze that haunts Antares could quite possibly get you laid, as vocalist Ben's smoothly layered croons largely dominate his harsher tones, setting a steamy post-apocalyptic scene. Whether that steam is a product of Dirk's go-juiced double-bass mayhem, or the detuned/jump-groove Digimortal tendencies that pop up from time-to-time is left for debate, but its love/hate nature is not. Genre fans should sign up for this posthaste, but appeal beyond that may be somewhat limited.
However, if there are any hooks that could sink into tendons of the tentative, the foot-on-the-monitor proselytizing of "Neurodrive", "Revive My Wounds", and "Permafrost" should be effective as anything on the market. These nuggets of maddening catchiness, along with the clutch-drop traffic-weave of openers "Emma-0" and "Ego Bypass Generator", easily eclipse any missteps on this young band's second effort - this speedball-shooting, heavens-pointing, leather-pant-donning, sci-fi flick explosion of metallic sex. While sometimes leaning more Bruckheimer than Blade Runner, it's a satisfying punch of electricity nonetheless.
Put it this way: Sybreed are the bizarro Machinae Supremacy, strikingly vital rather than strikingly vile. Floating on a plane parallel to our own, the band has its fingertips a centimeter from contact with Earth, and they're primed to make contact. As stated previously, fans with a prediliction towards the cybernetic should take note, plug in, listen up.
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