Review Summary: By incorporating heavy use of syncopation in a less conventional way and throwing in heavy smatterings of progressive influence, Synaptical Glitch create what may be the first noteworthy djent release in months.
With such a flooded metal underground, it can, at times, be frustrating to filter through so many poor one-off artists who think that a generic chug riff overdubbed with a "growl" that follows the limbo philosophy (how low can you
go?) makes for something brilliant. Or maybe they think that it's "enough" to be picked up and, somehow, heralded. But in the Information Age, where hundreds of bands make the play button on their material free of charge, it takes a lot more to stand out.
Enter Synaptical Glitch, the one-man project of Halifax, Nova Scotia native, Mitchell McLaine. While Monoliths
certainly isn't his first foray into underground progressive metal (coming to the listening public as his fifteenth EP since July of 2011), it may just be his best so far.
makes use of those now-conventional low, distorted riffs and blasting support from drums, McLaine gives them new life and a sense of purpose by shifting rhythms frequently and with pleasant variation while keyboards, electronics, and guitars overlap and intertwine with the chorus of the low to produce a sound that may not be entirely unique to the subgenre, but one which gives it a fresh breath of air. Of course, syncopation, alone, is not enough to make Monliths
the excellent album that it is, and keybaords and electronics reminiscent of Dream Theater's Jordan Rudess ("Terranova") and riffing and tone that can only conjure thoughts of Steven Wilson ("Algorithm") are mixed in on original lines along with other leading lines that prove McLaine's ability as a composer and performer.
The rhythmic drone of songs like "Oneirology," for example, gain commanding force from the ethereal, reverb-laden electronic glides of McLaine's keyboards, while tracks like opener "Cerebral Cortex" benefit from the spaced-out, Eastern influenced sound of infinitely resonating acoustic guitars and a vocoder-laden vocal approach placed low in the mix to present the feeling of distance - an effect that works exceptionally well in expanding the atmosphere of the song. In either situation, the songs are well-crafted, carefully planned out, and executed with thought and passion.
may seem like a bit of a tease at times, leaving the listener begging for more of the eloquent leading lines that dot the album's highest points, it is an album which illustrates a forward-thinking approach to a subgenre stagnating in mediocrity or worse. While it seems like the majority of Synaptical Glitch's so-called "peers" are destined to fade out, I would say that Mitch McLaine has at least provided those dedicated to the possibilities of the sound revolving around the low and spacey with hope for future innovation.