Is it just me, or does it seem like metal has developed a serious fixation on outer space recently? Granted, there have always been bands that used sci-fi themes in their music—Voivod and Wormed are the first two that come to mind—but it seems like the whole ‘cosmic’ thing is quickly becoming the next bit trend in extreme metal. And frankly, I’m okay with that. At this point, I’ve heard enough songs about Satan and gore to last a lifetime.
The latest cosmic-themed band to pop up on my radar is Tulsa’s atmospheric black metal duo Synodic. On their debut full-length Infinite Presence In A Violent Universe. In their own words, they describe their music as being “about the nature of the cosmos. Our lyrical content and themes are all science based, the reality of the universe and the grand feeling of darkness that the universe provides. What is more isolated, dark and alone then the vastness of a violent universe?”
Of course, ambitious content will only carry an album so far. Ultimately, a band needs to have the music to back it up. For the most part, Synodic does, but I do have to admit that I wouldn’t have minded a bit more consistency in their sound. It seems to me like the band displays three distinct personalities across the record. The first, which encompasses the ambient intro track “Descending on Titan” and “Infinite Presence in a Violent Universe,” plays a cold, precise style of black metal not unlike the most recent 1349 record. I didn’t like the most recent 1349 record, so for me this particular personality is probably the least compelling of the three.
Things pick up considerably, though, with the middle trio of songs “The Large Magellanic Cloud,” “Cosmic Cataclysm NGC 6357,” and “Cosmic Perspective.” All three tracks prominently feature synth tracks – so prominently, in fact, that they dominate the mix instead of the guitars. That 25-minute run of music almost has a blackened synthwave feel to it, which ends up being pretty damned engaging – it’s easily the best stretch of music on the record. The final two tracks, “One Billion Year Reign” and “Dweller of the Kuiper Belt,” kind of split the difference between the first two personalities, as the cold, harsh guitars come back to the front of the mix and the synths play more of a supporting role.
Since my knowledge of astronomy is severely limited, I don’t know if the sequencing of the songs has any sort of narrative or thematic significance. However, I do think the album may have benefitted from mixing up the tracks a bit so that the record would have felt a bit more cohesive. Or simply cutting “Infinite Presence in a Violent Universe” would have made it much stronger overall. Still, there’s a lot to like about this record, and I’m definitely interested in hearing what they do next.
Infinite Presence In A Violent Universe is now available from Synodic’s Bandcamp page.