I am always happy to give my ears a brutal workout so I was not disappointed with the debut release, 'Expiation', from Italian death Metal quartet Synapses. Forty-one minutes of nerve fibre stimulating brutality, fired at your senses in ten ruthlessly severe chunks.
As a band, they are just finding and developing their style but this album demonstrates a lot talent and potential. This is an interesting mix of death Metal with subtle jazz and technical influences but with a very brutal edge.
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It took a while to get into the album but by the second listen, the more subtle nuances to the tracks started to make themselves known to my ears. With such an intense barrage of sound, the full potential of the album is not fully realised until second or third listen.
What is on offer here is groove laden brutality, but of a predominantly chugging rather than a djent nature, topped off with bludgeoning guttural vocals.
'The Iron Stream' begins with a slow haunting piano, a cymbal build and then the vocal roar hits you. An excellent track just for the hypnotic and dirty groove to the guitars. Add to this drum work that at times reaches frantic speed and you have a great start to an album.
Another of my favourite tracks, 'No Ruins Left Behind', is built around a hypnotic dirty groove and here the vocals take on a scream as well as growl which I liked because it kept things interesting, again with more excellent drum work.
'Rapture Of Terror' almost got chosen as my favourite track. It has the most varied and interesting drumming and vocals of the album, also a bit of a jazz influence and a slightly djent like groove.
'Assault Of The Weak' opens on a battery of drums and a return volley from the bass with a catchy underlying repeat riff. 'Under The Vault Of The Hands Of Gods' is another one of the longer and better tracks due to its catchy, dirty, repeat riff pattern and interesting tempo changes.
Although I like 'Tower Of Flesh' with its twangy down tuned dirty opener, the dirty and hypnotic 'Wearing Your Body' and 'Blood In My Dreams', with its chugging groove and machine gun riffs, they didn't have the same impact upon me as the first five tracks.
But I was rather impressed with 'Deformed Trunk', which opens like machine gun fire to your eardrums before enthralling you with its layered vocals and spiralling riffs.
The final track, 'The Curse Of Extinction', with its slow, dark, terrifying opener and slower tempo throughout is a wonderfully sinister track which develops into a slow menacing groove. I really love this track, partly for being so different from the other tracks and partly for having such atmosphere; it is an excellent ending and my favourite track, closing with the simple yet haunting piano chords that the album opened with.
'Expiation' is out now on Deepsend Records.