Diversity. That’s what stands most about “God is an Automaton”, the fourth release from Swiss band Sybreed. Some of it’s great, some of it I’m not so keen on but the other thing you can’t escape is the skill with which they perform their melting-pot of genres.
Common throughout is the industrial feel both of the compositions and performance, but also the sharp harsh metallic production. Also ever-present are the melodeath double bass, heavy riffs and melodies that separate it from lighter industrial sounds. Despite the foundations that keep the record whole, the songs shift from metal versions of 80’s synth pop like Duran Duran and Depeche Mode with a strong Eurovision feel, to hardcore and nu with screaming vocals and strong bass and rhythm grooves.
It’s the 80’s sounding opening pair of tracks ‘Posthuman Manifesto’ and ‘No Wisdom Brings Solice’ that I’m least keen on, partly because their pop hooks and choruses infect you with earworms and I prefer more progressive styles, and partly because I really never liked that side of New Wave. Despite this they are well constructed songs, starting off slowly before launching into fast tempo drumming and riffs and making good use of that stop-start characteristic of New Wave. They manage to mix in the newer, heavier metal feel without sounding like a mash-up. Well performed, they set a clear point from which to progress through the record.
As the record continues Sybreed move further away from that 80’s sound. I keep half-expecting them to burst into passages of rap and it gets pretty close at times, but you wouldn’t call this nu-metal. By the time they reach closing track ‘Destruction and Bliss’ they are at their most experimental, not that you’ve reached the peak of progressive metal, but no doubt more accessible for the majority of potential listeners. There’s some great lead guitar work, the lightning bass, industrial beats and symphonic synth are all there taking turns in the spotlight, and the whole thing fades into a couple of minutes of ambient drone at the end, providing great contrast to the opening tracks.
The more I listen the more I can’t believe a couple of these tracks aren’t getting widespread commercial airplay on heavy rock stations around the world. If you like catchy tunes that you can dance and sing along to and stay in your head, and you don’t mind a bit of hardcore vocals, then this should appeal to you.