Synestesia - _Nereus_
(Independent, 2012)
by: Mark Dolson (9 out of 10)
After three seemingly long years (to me), Finland's Synestesia are back with a brand new album. And after several listens, it's turning out to be quite an interesting piece of work. _Nereus_ picks up where _Feeniks_ (2009) left off; and while the band don't really break any boundaries here (musically at least), they definitively have developed their own particular brand of Finnish melodic death metal. Much like its predecessor, _Nerueus_ is, for all intents and purposes, a fairly traditional melodic death metal album. All those things that tradition prescribes for us are set in place: heavy, fairly low-register vocals; razor-like guitars (the tone actually really reminds of me of Dark Tranquillity's amazing _The Mind's I_) which punch and rhyme along in a staccato and melodic tenor (though really not as overtly melodic as their last album); fairly audible bass guitar; and dextrous, fairly technical drumming, with all the frills of involved double-bass work.

Now, keeping in mind what I've just written, there really isn't a great deal of difference (prima facia, anyways) between _Feeniks_ and _Nereus_ in terms of overall approach. However, after a few listens, I started to notice many layered nuances on each song. First of all, those engaging, ethereal female vocals that we heard on _Feeniks_ are present in many more songs on _Nereus_. Though I don't have access to the liner notes, I'm fairly certain that it's the same vocalist from _Feeniks_-- which is fantastic, as she is excellent. Her voice complements perfectly Eero Kuusisto's rough and clean deliveries. As well, piano makes is debut for Synestesia, and is featured fairly prominently throughout the entirety of _Neurus_. While I usually don't like piano on metal albums, this time round I'll concede that its use acts as a leaven and gives the music a more avant-garde quality. And, coupled with the acoustic guitars (which are utilised a little more on this album), the songwriting has more dynamism and variety.

Perhaps one of the more noticeable differences in terms of songwriting that I noticed right away was the actual pacing of the songs. Whilst we still have some rollicking melodic death metal tracks such as "Valo" ("Light") or "Valhe" ("A Lie") many of the tracks like "Murha" ("Murder"), "274 Askelmaa" ("274 Steps"), or "Hiljaisuus" ("Silence") are mid-paced, melancholic (and even contemplative) affairs. I don't know if it's because I'm getting older or anything like that, but it seems that this change in pacing makes the songs come across as a little more mature and sophisticated. As it stands, the only issue I have with this album is that at points it feels a little on the long side -- this might have something to do with the drawn-out feel of the album. _Nereus_ features twelve tracks, and clocks in at just over 56 minutes.

Since the lyrics are completely unintelligible to me -- inasmuch as I don't speak Finnish -- I'm not sure whether _Nereus_ is a concept album. By the looks of the song titles (kindly translated into English for me by vocalist E. Kuusisto), as well as by some of the samples used throughout the album -- such as seagulls calling in the background -- I'm thinking that maybe _Nereus_ is indeed a concept. At any rate, though, if you are a fan of Omnium Gatherum, Insomnium, Evemaster, Before the Dawn or Be'lakor, make sure to purchase a copy of _Neurus_.


(article published 15/7/2012)

2/14/2010 M Dolson 10 Synestesia - Feeniks
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