Review Summary: Sybreed’s fourth LP is head and shoulders above most industrial metal albums to come out in 2012God Is An Automaton
doesn’t represent anything particularly
new for Sybreed. With that said, it is still a really, really solid slab of industrial metal because, well, Sybreed are a consistently good industrial metal band. I’ve never been fully wowed by them, but in the same way, I’ve never been disappointed in them either. Slave Design
was an entirely decent, if a bit long-winded record for a debut; Antares
– considered as the group’s best album thus far – was indeed excellent and achieved a really good balance between the metallic and industrial/atmospheric elements; and finally, The Pulse Of Awakening
was exactly what I thought it was going to be prior to its release: an inferior record to Antares
that’s still great on its own. Now, in 2012, the band has come out with a successor to The Pulse Of Awakening
and to no one’s dismay, it continues the line of great but not spectacular albums by Sybreed.
The whole thing starts off incredibly well, as "Posthuman Manifesto" introduces the listener to the grooviest riff of the year, plus it has those chilling clean vocals that Sybreed are known and acclaimed for in the latter part of the song. Following tracks "No Wisdom Brings Solace", "The Line of Least Resistance" and "Red Nova Ignition" maintain the intensity of the opener, displaying a good use of the harsh-clean vocal dynamic and featuring more groovy guitar riffs that are enhanced by the accompanying electronic effects. Starting from the title track though, the album falls into a bit of a rut that spans across three tracks. None of the following songs are bad and the dynamics that made the first few songs so great are still in use, but they’re just not as exciting anymore. The songs in question (the title track, "Hightech Versus Lowlife" and "Downfall Inc.") are all decent-enough cuts, there’s just not much to set them apart from any other Sybreed song. Thankfully, once "Challenger" rolls onto the scene with its irresistible catchiness, the album refuses to let up and finishes strongly, with each of the remaining songs bettering the one that came before it. The real cherry on top is the album finisher "Destruction And Bliss", which takes full advantage of its near 10 minute running time. It steadily builds (the tension) and while the electronic climax at the end is not fierce in sound, it does paint to the listener a dark, haunting soundscape that wouldn’t be out of place serving as a soundtrack to the end of the world.
Now, while this is most probably the best industrial metal album (that has equal parts of "industrial" and "metal") that I’ve heard all year, it does have a few minor flaws. For starters, it’s industrial metal, so you can expect it to be at least somewhat repetitive (example: the middle part of the album that I already brought out – none of the songs are bad in any way, they just work the same formula that the songs that preceded them did). On the other hand, no one should hope to find progressive metal-like qualities in industrial metal anyway, and Sybreed do mix it up more than most of their peers. What might be of concern to some on God Is An Automaton
though is that the vocals are mixed differently here than they are on Antares
or The Pulse Of Awakening
. On God Is An Automaton
, they are much more on the forefront and while they do still sound great, they do so in a different way. When on previous releases they were more atmospheric, almost glued together with the electronics, here they work more as a separate instrument (mind you, the vocal techniques that are in use are the same as on previous releases, especially the clean-harsh dynamic). How well this phenomenon goes over with the fans (and the newcomers to the band as well) remains to be seen, but for those who really digged the atmospheric vocal layers on Antares
, it might look like a small step in the wrong direction.
In the very first sentence I mentioned that this album is nothing particularly new for Sybreed, but I italicized the word "particularly" and I did so for a reason, as some minor changes have occurred. Sybreed are staying true to their own style which they call "deathwave" (a fusion of extreme metal and electronic music that prominently features groove-based rhythms and futuristic melodies); in fact, they’re doing it more so now than ever because the guitars have really been kicked up a notch. The chugging sections are rather heavy and some riffs have a cool djenty feel to them. The drums also sound more organic than ever and have a really "full" sound to them. In general the production seems to favor the metal part in Sybreed’s sound this time around, because while the electronics are still there and still a major influence, it all sounds bigger and louder.
In conclusion, God Is An Automaton
is another great industrial metal album from the Swiss quartet who is yet to disappoint. Usually, when you have equal parts of metal and industrial in your sound, it’s (for some weird reason) hard to get it right for even one album, but Sybreed have more or less done so on four already. All the more, the value of God Is An Automaton
is enhanced by 2012 being a really dull year for industrial metal so far, leaving the album as a clear-cut standout. With that in mind, there’s no other way to put it than to call God Is An Automaton
a roaring success - an album any fan of industrial metal should try out.