Synthetic – Clepsydra: Time Against Infinity (ROAR! Rock of Angels Records)

Thursday, 24th September 2020
Rating: 9/10

Surfacing to this scribe back in 2016 by finding their debut, Here Lies the Truth, on Bandcamp, it’s been a minute since we’ve heard any new music from the UK-based melodic death metal act. Their debut impressed by handling some melodeath aggression and occasionally injecting it with bigger hooks and modern vibes. Clepsydra sees them naturally expanding their sound while enhancing what already worked for the band last time.

Clepsydra still sits closest to a modern melodic death record if you were to give it a quick classification. But some things have been expanded and changed around this time and it gives Synthetic a more fleshed out sound, as well as more unique one. The first piece that’s noticeable is the more prominent progressive influences. Not only do a few tracks pass the 7-minute mark, but the song structures themselves are more intricate and flow into extended passages that allow for some playful and serene moments. The title track has an ethereal feeling to it, with numerous floaty guitar leads and some well-implemented symphonic elements giving it an augmented boost without stealing the show. A bit on the somber side too, with some melancholic feelings providing a genuinely emotive atmosphere. Likewise, “Crimson Farewell” takes a turn into almost doomy waters when they turn up the guitars (and Sterge’s growls) and it gives the lumbering tempo some urgency.

But for all of the doomy and symphonic pieces that have been added, the band can still bring out the uptempo aggression when needed. “Slipwalk” opens with a gorgeous riff/synth combination that melodeath fans will immediately love, and plenty of heavy riffs to sink your teeth into while simultaneously landing some incredibly catchy hooks. “Into Oblivion” echoes a similar sentiment later in the release, though with an even stronger emphasis on dreamy hooks and melodies. “Hostile Design” switches things up with some slick grooves alongside frenetic riff moments juxtaposed with some airy progressive touches (even a few Nevermore vibes) and moments of bombastic synth injections.

A thorough expansion of their sound while still keeping the melodic heart of the band intact, Clepsydra is a thoroughly satisfying that embraces progressive elements almost as much as it does melodeath. Not a track goes by without at least a few things to catch your ear – be it a catchy vocal line, flashy guitar solo, rousing symphonic explosion, or gentle bit of serenity. With the four year timeline, it’s obvious Synthetic took the time to make sure their sophomore effort was a more diverse and stronger beast than their debut, and the effort has clearly paid off. Melodic metal fans will find this one to be a real treasure.

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