Sole Syndicate – Into the Flames (Scarlet Records)

Friday, 10th June 2022
Rating: 8 / 10

When it comes to blending influences from across continents, many Scandinavian artists place special care and concern to service the needs of the songs first and foremost. Place Sole Syndicate in this camp – taking equal inspiration from their own European heritage of metal and melodic hard rock while adding in modern, catchy, and aggressive aspects from North America to develop an intriguing, versatile third record for Into the Flames. The quartet inject these twelve tracks with comforting multilayered vocal harmonies that wrap around stirring main riffs, ideal transitions, and modern/darker twists that set up edge of the seat dynamics.

Beyond the conventional guitar-driven material, these musicians know how to reach another level of emotional resonance in slower paces. The power ballad-oriented “Shadow of My Love” which contains beautiful piano and acoustic support moves to classic mode through guitarist/vocalist Jonas Månsson’s careful, restrained lead breaks (think John Norum meets Gary Moore/Vivian Campbell) and equally intoxicating mid-range vocal harmonies you usually hear from AOR/progressive rock acts like Supertramp or the Little River Band. The closing title track is a sprawling epic of almost eleven-minutes, delivering grand riffs at doom to slightly mid-tempo pacing, more engaging vocal harmonies, and this titanic heaviness towards the conclusion, bridging Dio-era Black Sabbath with measures of Alter Bridge. Chunkier, tuned down riffing next to resplendent keyboard work surges throughout “Forsaken”, while when the group just wants to get a bit swinging in a modern hard rock vernacular, look no further than “Do You Believe” for that side of their sound. Jonas natural register has a mix of that AOR smoothness and bluesy hard rock timbre – his infectious repetition for ‘I’m ready to go/ but my heart is saying no’ during “In the Absence of Light” a peak moment for aural delight.

Wasting no time releasing this record after 2020’s magnificent Last Days of Eden opus, Sole Syndicate deliver music that can appeal to most heavy music followers be it melodic hard rock or of the modern, drop tuned metal contingency. Into the Flames is one of those driving, diverse albums that contains catchy material that listeners will want to engage with consistently – the staying power a big selling point for the band.

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