Review Summary: Remember when Sonic Syndicate sang about "Love and Other Disasters"? This was that other disaster.
In 2010, Sonic Syndicate announced that their harsh vocalist Richard Sjunnesson would be taking a break from the band due to “personal issues”. A couple of days later, Richard disproved that message, saying he was permanently leaving due to the change in musical direction at the request of the label. Whether you agree with him or not about the label wanting the change (I do), there’s no denying that he certainly had every right to feel that way about the band’s recent album, We Rule the Night
. It’s rather confusing to see Nuclear Blast releasing an album this commercialized, considering this is a label that houses the likes of Meshuggah and Behemoth. Regardless, they decided that Sonic Syndicate would be their next big breakout band at the expense of dictating where their musical direction should go.
Let it be known that the mainstream appeal of this album has all the charm of a burning orphanage. The first seven songs are the soundtrack to compromising your musical integrity, each track more ridiculously executed than the last. “Revolution, Baby!” is a nu metal anthem that came a decade late, including lyrics such as “Get the *** up and do something!”
“Turn It Up!” will provide a decent laugh if you want to hear Lady Gaga mixed with A Vain Attempt. What follows after is “My Own Life”, proving Sonic Syndicate to be the Nickelback that Nuclear Blast wanted them to become. Following a misogynistic dance tune with a tearjerker ballad featuring lines like “Fate is kicking down my door / But I don’t live there anymore”
Throughout the album, Nathan Biggs (replacing ex-vocalist Roland Johansson) can’t figure out who he wants to sound like more – Atreyu’s Alex Varkatzas or Skindred’s Benji Webbe. Regardless, his vocals take more precedence in the mix than Richard’s, which proves to be a mistake. While Richard’s vocals can be a little too much at times for the listener, he’s no worse than countless grindcore vocalists. But on this tornado of an album, Richard sounds like the voice of reason telling everyone to evacuate the area while Nathan blindly tries to drive towards the storm. It’s another reason why the album fails: when you’re already getting complaints about being “mallcore” or “faux melodeath”, it’s probably not a good idea to further go down the rabbit hole of pop metal rather than improve on areas that need addressing.
However, the album is not without its good moments. The songs that the Sjunnesson brothers wrote (“Plans Are for People”, “Break of Day”, and “We Rule the Night”) and “Leave Me Alone” (provided by Peter Tägtgren and Jonas Kjellgren) prove to be diamonds in a disc otherwise crammed with excrement. “Break of Day” proves to be the best track, with the harsher vocals shining through in grand fashion. The instrumentation of “Burn This City” is catchy and hard-hitting as well, even if the vocals and lyrics aren’t exactly top notch. The bonus track “Heart of Eve” is a song that should have made the final cut, which begs the question: if the old formula worked, why change it?
Regardless of the questions asked, what’s done is done. This album was released, people hated it, and Richard left to form The Unguided with brother Roger and Roland Johansson. I highly recommend their album Hell Frost
if you want a proper sequel to Love and Other Disasters
(or y’know, not pop metal). In the meantime, avoid this album like the plague. It doesn’t give anyone involved a good name – Sonic Syndicate, Nathan Biggs, or Nuclear Blast – and it shows that wanting to branch out into other genres doesn’t work all the time.