Review Summary: Coming to a conclusion
Sonic Syndicate had managed to avoid the cursed sophomore slump by making small but meaningful changes to their sound, going from melo-death influences to straight up metalcore. Only Inhuman was a better and ultimately more mature album, but did lack a little of the flare that parts of Eden Fire
carried so well. It was up to Love And Other Disasters
to carry the good name of Sonic Syndicate on and show another step in progression.
After previous opener “Aftermath”, the In Flames-esque main riff, throat-shredding screams, and lightning-fast double bass that open “Encaged” may come as a surprise. It’s much heavier and tighter than its predecessor, and ultimately more varied, as it jumps seamlessly from soaring cleans, howling screams, “epic” synth lines, and technical/chugged guitar riffing. The track sounds like a meld of “Jailbreak” and “Aftermath”, but may ultimately be better than both, especially with it’s damningly catchy chorus. It’s so very promising for the rest of the record. “Hellgate: Worcester” is seconds from fading into a punky Killswitch Engage filler track when the soaring, anthemic chorus comes in backed by snyth, double bass, and some of the best clean vocals the band has displayed. The juxtaposition of punky brashness through the beginning and the more melodic, thought-out rest of the track works quite well and makes this an album standout. The songwriting in “Fallout” is nimble and keeps the listener on their feet, again dropping from clean vocals, soaring guitar lines, and icy keyboards to throat-bursting screams and heavy Drop C riffing. Not to mention the brash, pump-up gang vocals at the end of the track. Don’t fear though, as follow-up track “Powershift” thunders forward with fantastic growls and screams, thrashing palm muted riffing, and a much heavier feel than anything SS has done (except for the chorus). It’s almost a poppier Pantera, which doesn’t sound great on paper but is actually well-executed on record. Despite one or two exceptions, the album has a pretty strong latter half and closing.
Then we come to Sonic’s breakout track, and consequently their most “try-hard” video, “Jack of Diamonds”. The song itself is great, with a catchy main riff and chorus combined with attention-grabbing synths and jagged riffing for quite the urgent feel, but the video is so bad. I know the band members were early 20s at this point, but that doesn’t mean having sports cars, explosions, and hot girls in your music video for a serious song makes a bit of sense or is appropriate. The video almost ruins the song, so I would recommend staying far away.
Speaking of the group’s maturity, it shines through at points lyrically, at times it stays the same. While a song like “Fallout” or “Powershift” does accurately call for change without being too cheesy, “Jack Of Diamonds” and “Engaged” fall down a little (“All of my life I’ve been waiting for someone like you”, for example). Still, this is ultimately better and more varied than Only Inhuman
. Containing some of Sonic Syndicate’s best and strongest moments, I would recommend this heavily.