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Il Grande Scisma d'Oriente - "Synesthesia" (Promo CD)

Il Grande Scisma d'Oriente - "Synesthesia" Promo CD cover image

"Synesthesia" track listing:

1. Synesthesia I (0:46)
2. Synesthesia II (7:48)
3. Hypnagogia I (1:29)
4. Hypnagogia II (6:12)
5. Onironauta (6:45)

Reviewed by on April 11, 2010

"The band’s debut 'Synesthesia' may be musically pleasing, but it’s still stuck following the recipe of previous progressive bands instead of actually being progressive by branching out on their own."

Somehow over the years the phrase “progressive death metal” has changed from a description of a band that shatters preconceived notions and takes music in completely new directions to a formula that should be followed. The formula may be effective and worth listening to, but there’s something disturbing about a band proclaiming itself to be progressive by failing to do something new. Il Grande Scisma d'Oriente is an Italian four piece that falls prey to that particular quandary. The band’s debut “Synesthesia” may be musically pleasing, but it’s still stuck following the recipe of previous progressive bands instead of actually being progressive by branching out on their own.

There is a brief atmospheric and moody opening track to get the audience ready for the inevitable heavier segments and deep death growls. It’s a tidy opener, putting a lot of introspective and ethereal sounds into a small space. Before the listener has had time to fully digest the intro the second song hits and the main focus of the music becomes clear, and that focus is on following as closely in Opeth’s footsteps as possible without becoming a cover band.

Il Grande Scisma d'Oriente doesn’t quite have the fusing of the melodic and the crushingly heavy down as well as Opeth yet, but it’s clear from every string plucked and growl bellowed that they are trying. The dual guitar work gives its best effort at being melodic while also being destructive, and the drums take plenty of forays out of blast beating into that jazz influenced style of playing familiar to any fan of the Swedish titans. Acoustic interludes and regular switching between death growls and clean singing round out the usual suspects of the Opeth style.

Despite the lack of originality, “Synesthesia” still has a lot to offer musically. The disc is overall dark and brooding, but it still provides a sense of how emotionally impacting music can be when played correctly. Of particular note is the guitar playing on the second track, which clearly paints a picture in the head and provides a fluid sense of movement, instead of being nothing more than a blunt force trauma to the listener’s brain. The ending few minutes are also an epic and harrowing sonic journey, brining all the various elements heard throughout the disc into a final titanic conclusion.

“Synesthesia” has crammed a lot of outstanding music into a short promo, even if it is lifted from another band’s blueprints. The high level of production and melodic guitar work make it seem like the band could be create something really spectacular in a full-length album some time down the line. It’s a release that unquestionably treads ground that has already been broken, but it sounds good enough that fans of the style may be willing to overlook that fact and enjoy the music anyway.

Highs: The guitar work does an excellent job of fluidly switching between melodic and crushing.

Lows: The band tries to follow Opeth's blueprint to the letter.

Bottom line: Follows too closely in Opeth's footsteps, but its still worth hearing for anyone who enjoys that style of music.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 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)