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Jonathan Stewart – Syncopated Angel

Jonathan Stewart
Syncopated Angel
by Phil Taylor at 16 May 2023, 12:14 AM

JONATHAN STEWART was a charismatic and talented person who sadly died of lung cancer in June 2018 and the internet is pretty slim on any further details. Syncopated Angel is a posthumous release from a friend of his who re-released some songs from Jonathon’s previous bands (SLAUTER XSTROYES and ENERGY VAMPIRES) with the aid of a bunch of artists including CHRIS HOLMES (Ex-WASP) and the late STEVE GRIMMETT (GRIM REAPER). The album is released by No Remorse Records. Unfortunately, though I don’t wish to speak ill of the dead, I have to say this album isn’t a very good one.

Firstly, the problem is that Jonathon wasn’t a very good vocalist. The vocals on the opening “Mother Fucker” and “Syncopated Angel” are frankly laughable. The latter is unintentionally hilarious with ever increasing high-pitched histrionics that had me literally laughing out loud. It just seems to be random vocals over the music and had I not been a reviewer I would have stopped there…but I carried on so you don’t have to! “Mind’s Eye” has a more interesting riff though the intro seems like a different song. The vocals are thankfully more restrained and there’s ‘some’ attempt at a chorus:

“My mind’s eye tonight
999 that’s right
My my my my secret eye”

The only song really that made an impact for me was the pretty good “Portrait of Pain”. It’s an acoustically driven ballad and it reminded me of AVENGED SEVENFOLD’s more reflective moments. It’s got a very atmospheric and enjoyable rhythm that is complemented later by a great electric lead solo. It’s the best song on the album by miles and Jonathon’s more pensive vocals work well. After the cheesy “Rock ‘N’ Roll” with its camp keyboard intro that wouldn’t be out of place on the Rocky Horror Show, we come to the longest song on the album. “Winterkill” is a 6 ½ minute Frankenstein monster of a track. It really is like somebody has glued a bunch of different riffs together, there is no cohesion and the vocals are pretty bad. Save for a couple of decent riffs, this is a very poor track.

“Free The Beast” is way shorter but the return of the high-pitched warbling is unwelcome and bloody awful, though there is some decent rhythm and some great lead. “My Eyes” adds a female vocalist and orchestration to the mix but it’s very repetitive and totally forgettable. The album ends on the rather good “Battle Axe” with its funky riff and some very good lead. It’s hard to see who this is aimed at as there are million-plus better albums out there.  The majority of the songs are instantly forgettable apart from “Portrait of Pain” and though there is some decent lead guitar and the production is OK, there just isn’t the song writing prowess that makes this worth listening to. Maybe Jonathon’s family and friends will find something here but I doubt anyone else will.

Songwriting: 3
Musicianship: 5
Memorability: 3
Production: 6

2 Star Rating

1. Mother Fucker
2. Syncopated Angel
3. Mind’s Eye
4. Portrait of Pain
5. Rock ‘N’ Roll
6. Winterkill
7. Free The Beast
8. No Idea
9. My Eyes
10. Battleaxe
Jonathon Stewart - Vocals
Various Artists - Guitar, Bass, Drums
Record Label: No Remorse Records


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Edited 09 June 2023

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