Sole Syndicate – Into The Flames
Release Date: 17/06/22
Running Time: 01:08:18
Review by Simon Black
Sweden’s Sole Syndicate somewhat blew me away with their 2020 Sophomore “Last Days of Eden”, so much so, that it landed firmly and squarely in my top ten list for that somewhat painful year, so expectations are somewhat high for this ‘tricky third’ album. Journalists always harp on about this sort of phrase by the way and it harks back to the ye olden days when bands would have songs lined up for labels that they had been honing for years before getting signed, the best of which would make it to album number one, the rest and some odds and sods on the second… before the shocking realisation that the cupboard was now bare and a third album was overdue. It’s probably irrelevant these days, given most acts have been having to keep the creativity going before then with EP’s and demos in a digital world that is not satisfied for you to simply recycle old material once you land a deal.
But it’s still a useful benchmark, because it often marks a turning point for a band in other ways, as they hit the point where they have been probably at this for the best part of a decade, have established themselves and feel they can experiment a little… This can be a dangerous experiment for many however – diverge too far from your core sound and you alienate the fanbase; stay too samey and people quickly point it out to you. There’s a razor fine line between these two stops and I am pleased to say that Sole Syndicate are walking that tight rope perfectly fine, thank you very much.
Whereas “The Last Days of Eden” was a rose tinted, yet soulfully sadness tinged slab of beautifully crafted Melodic Hard Rock, “Into The Flames” is way darker, more sombre and brutally heavy in comparison. Thematically it’s taking the concept one stage further, given what we’ve all lived through over the last two years and its subject matter focusses on the damage we are doing to our Eden, and indeed ourselves. Opening with the ruthlessly delivered and Djent-tinged single ‘Forsaken’ this is an album that keeps battering for a long time without losing momentum.
It’s also got a much fatter, polished production sound to it as well, which lends it an epic feel in comparison to the stripped back to basics Hard Rocking of their previous album. What it feels like is the natural evolution of a band moving from tracks that work well in sweaty clubs to those that need more depth and structure in larger venues, which I hope they will start to play despite the damage the pandemic has done to their momentum (although to be fair that’s a level playing field for the whole industry).
Performance wise the band have lost none of the edge and I still remain amazed that Jonas Månsson delivers all the lead vocal and guitar parts on his own, or indeed that this is a four piece band, given how much depth and layering is going on this time out. Despite its length, these songs are so well crafted that time just flies. Even the nearly eleven minutes run time of the closing title track does not outstay its welcome, allowing changes, complexity and a hint of the progressive to lead you by the ears and steal you away.
Darker and heavier than it’s predecessor, yet losing none of the Melodic heart-twinges and soulful delivery that won me over before, this is a natural progression of a band that started with ten from me, and just went up to eleven. This isn’t a change of direction, this is a launchpad…
‘Forsaken’ Official Video
02. Count to Zero
03. Brave Enough
04. Shadow of My Love
05. Miss Behave
06. Dust of Angels
07. Sunset Strip
08. Do You Believe
09. In the Absence of Light
10. Freak Like Me
11. Back Against the Wall
12. Into the Flames
Jonas Månsson – Vocals, Guitar
Katja Rasila – Keyboards, Vocals
David Gustafsson – Bass, Vocals
Henrik Zetterlund – Drums
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