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Sonic Syndicate - "Love and Other Disasters" (CD)

Sonic Syndicate - "Love and Other Disasters" CD cover image

"Love and Other Disasters" track listing:

1. Encaged (4:25)
2. Hellgate: Worchester (3:23)
3. Jack of Diamonds (3:41)
4. My Escape (4:10)
5. Fallout (3:51)
6. Power Shift (3:32)
7. Contradiction (3:33)
8. Damage Control (3:49)
9. Red Eyed Friend (4:43)
10. Affliction (5:12)

Reviewed by on February 23, 2010

"'Love and Other Disasters' isn't a disaster for Sonic Syndicate, but it does rely a bit too much on a single formula to drive the songs."

By Sonic Syndicate's third album, "Love and Other Disasters," released in October of 2008, the band had established its generally winning formula: growling verses and clean choruses joined with muscular guitar riffs and symphonic keyboards to create something that resembled metalcore with a heavy pop sheen. You can't fault a band for going with what works for them, even when it results in an album full of songs that don't have a lot of diversity to them.

You can't deny this band has some great chops. Drummer John Bengtsson is particularly impressive in driving the fast sections of the songs and guiding them in for the soft landing of the choruses. Robin and Roger Sjunneson handle the guitar work well, although some of their stuff gets buried by keyboards in the choruses of songs like "Hellgate: Worcester." Karin Axelsson's bass rumbles in the background, and while it's not always in a starring role, it provides a solid backbone for everything else going on.

This is the last Sonic Syndicate disc to feature Roland Johannson's clean vocals, and tracks like "Jack of Diamonds" make the most of them, with Richard Sjunneson providing growling backup. "My Escape" and "Contradiction" are definitely Johannson's vocal showcase here, with an almost ballad feel to them.

On the downside, most of the album's faster songs tend to blend together in that they don't deviate from the formula I was talking about earlier. Tracks like "Encaged," "Hellgate: Worcester," and "Red Eyed Friend" are almost indistinguishable from each other in many ways. That wasn't much of a concern if I was doing something else when I listened to the album, but it became a bit maddening if I was paying close attention to it.

Production-wise, the album sounds gorgeous. The drums and bass have a nice heft to them that balances out the high synth sounds.

"Love and Other Disasters" isn't a disaster for Sonic Syndicate, but it does rely a bit too much on a single formula to drive the songs. If you're a fan of the band, you'll love it; if you're looking for a ton of variety, you should look elsewhere.

Highs: "Jack of Diamonds" and "Contradiction."

Lows: Too many sound-alike songs.

Bottom line: Fans of this band will love it; others may find it lacking in variety.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)