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Synthetic – Clepsydra: Time Against Infinity

Clepsydra: Time Against Infinity
by Ian Yeara at 25 October 2020, 5:14 PM

SYNTHETIC is supposedly a Melodic Death Metal band, I don't know that I really agree with that genrification, to me it sounds like it's just slightly thrashy Prog Metal, these certainly aren't death growls I'm hearing. Speaking of the vocals, that seems as good a place to start as any.

At first, I kinda hated the vocals and I'm still not especially fond of the "harsh vocals", but I grew to enjoy Sterge B's cleaner vocals, at times, they almost remind me of David Gold from the now defunct WOODS OF YPRES. Of course, the music is nothing like WOODS, but Sterge has a good voice for emoting. I'm having a hard time judging this album because there are plenty of great moments and plenty of moments that I just wanted to turn off the album. I'll be real honest, the parts of this album that are a little Proggier and rely more on emotion and melody are easily the most enjoyable thing about this album.

It's hard to say whether I really like any songs individually because like I said there are moments that I love and moments I hate. "Hostile Designs" is a great example of this. Most of the song is a solid Heavy Prog song, with good tone, atmosphere and really solid vocal melodies. Then the Bro-core riffs come in and kill it. I mean so many times while listening to this album I was having a great time and then Sterge is yelling at me over some really lazy chug chug chug, -core riffs. I think the theme of this album for me is flip-flopping between some rather interesting ideas that keep the pace, and some lazy generic heavy, Metalcore writing. The songwriting is incredibly bipolar.

When I got to "Clepsydra" it was a breath of fresh air. I don't usually love ballads, but Prog bands are usually a little better at it, plus it's a 7 minute break from this guy's awful vox. I love how they arranged the strings for this music, it really helps bring out the emotion in the music. There are moments of this song that feel a little doomy which is nice and I kind of wish they would indulge in a little more Prog Doom, than whatever kind of Death Metal they are trying to play. "Autumn Scars" continues this more subdued and sorrowful tone, and the music is firmly on the Prog side until the very end of the song. So finally, we have two songs that I genuinely enjoyed from start to finish.

The second half of this album is just far more interesting than the first half. Seriously, I have very little to say about the first half because it's really bipolar. There are still moments of unrest for me in the back half, but only moments, for the most part I found myself really enjoying the instrumentation and Serge's clean vocals are awesome.

Remember when I said the music doesn't sound anything like Woods of Ypres? Well, the second half actually sounds a lot more like them. We get a little more Doom, and more focus on the vocal melodies. Even the harsh vocals don't bother me nearly as much on songs like "Crimson Farewell" and it's all about application. See, the first half sounded very ADRENALINE MOB at times which is just so not my bag, but on the back half it seems like the band went for more of a Prog/Doom/Death Metal sound which works much better for them.

The bass actually gets a few moments to itself here and there and generally the mix on this album is pretty good, not amazing, but solid. Sometimes it gets a little too echoey and that can leave some instruments sounding like they're playing at the bottom of a pit, 20 yards away.

What I want to spend the rest of this review talking about is potential. There is great potential in this album, there were so many moments in songs like "Crimson Farewell", "Clepsydra", "Autumn Scars" and "Cage of Hopes" where all I could think was: If we could have had an entire album of this specific sound then this would have a chance to crack my year-end list. As it is this album leaves me confused, there’s no real focus or flow to the album, each song is just kind of a new thing and it feels like the band couldn’t agree on a sound or tone. This is one of those albums that I really wanted to like, but in the end it’s just alright.

In summation, if you like ADRENALINE MOB and you like WOODS OF YPRES (hard to imagine such a person exists, but there’s got to be someone out there) then this album might blow you away, as it is this the definition of a 3/5 album, it’s solid, but no more than solid.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 5
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

1. Time Against Infinity
2. Graceful Ignorance
3. Slipwalk
4. Shades of Tomorrow
5. Hostile Design
6. Clepsydra
7. Autumn Scars
8. The Road to Salvation
9. Crimson Farewell
10. Into Oblivion
11. Cage of Hopes
Simon Charkas – Guitars
Sterge B. – Vocals
Chris Cassidy – Bass, Vocals (backing)
Hallam Smith – Keyboards
Faried Verheul – Guitars
Argyris Thomoglou – Drums
Record Label: ROAR! Rock Of Angels Records


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