Making our first acquaintance with Italian death metallers Synapses through their new album Devoutness, it is fair to say that ears and psyche were bewitched, certainly brutalised and twisted this way and that too by their hellacious sound, but ultimately mesmerised by the maelstrom they conjure. Twelve tracks of unrelenting technical death metal, the album is pure bedlam, an ordered and finely crafted mayhem, but invigorating bedlam all the same and quite irresistible. Discord and off-kilter ingenuity is as rampant in the tapestry of sound fuelling each track as fierce imagination and rabid aggression, with Devoutness overall, one insatiable and thrilling erosion of the senses.
Hailing from Brescia, Synapses was formed in 2008 by guitarist Alessio “Ciulaz” Fassoli, vocalist Giovanni “Kane” Canedoli, and bassist Giordano “Sez” Savoldi after the demise of their previous band Underhate. Quickly enlisting drummer Riccardo “Cannibale” Fanara, the quartet set about creating “modern, violent and frenetic death metal, which has its roots in the 90’s, but with the awareness of a more modern sound.” A promo appeared in 2009 to stir up attention, with the band debuting their presence and fury on the live scene soon after to increasing success. Debut album Expiation was unleashed in 2012 to swift and generally acclaimed attention, its arrival backed by a tour around Europe and shows within their homeland. Last year Synapses set about writing and creating Devoutness, a release in our humble opinion destined to put the band on the most intensive extreme metal maps.
The provocative Intro starts things off, its chilling atmosphere and dystopian ambience invasive as it sets up an expulsion of enthralling sound and craft. Once into its instrumental stride, the piece lays the technical foundation for the album musically with that still immersive stark air setting the lyrical tone, both quickly taken to new levels by Spiral of Devoutness. Another dose of haunted scenery grips ears before quickly erupting in ferocious artillery of rhythmic venom and similarly malevolent riffery. At its centre there is also a magnetically tenacious swing, the track for all its brutality ridiculously contagious as guitar and bass groove like pole dancers around the toxic spine of the assault. Quickly imagination comes into play too, the song, and not for the last time in its body, seemingly slipping away before starting up the whole creative ball game all over again, with even more destructive tendencies and hardcore bred belligerence joining every fresh twist in the design.
The scintillating trespass of body and emotions continues and escalates within the following Legates Of Tyranny. From its first breath the track is darker, more malicious, and uncompromising than the last, soon devouring ears and scoring the senses whilst also carrying its own intensely catchy weaponry of temptation. The flesh scarring tones of Canedoli almost wear the blood of the vocalist’s surely torn throat such his raw and caustic delivery, and initially against the cleaner but no less intrusive sounds, it took a while to get on with his attack. By the second and definitely the third listen though, everything slips into place and as the third track shows, sparks a real appetite for what is on offer.
Force-Fed With Gore is a torrent of searing and sudden twists aligned to concussive rhythms and predatory grooves, and the most unpredictable and exploratory track so far upon Devoutness. It is still driven by a primal intensity and want, but shaped by captivating guitar ideation and splintered with unexpected detours which, even if for mere seconds, wrong-foot and enthral. It is a template which is stretched further across the rest of the album, the next up A Place Will Be Forgotten craving a whirlwind of sonic tendrils around rhythmic hostility and after another momentary pause, spewing a rabidity of carnal viciousness infused with melodic acidity. As you can already surmise, things constantly are in a state of change and the song continues to cast a salaciously punishing but compelling dance impossible to turn your back on.
A climatic detour into a sonically blistered and melodically provocative soundscape comes next in Hybrid Soul, before Phoenix Condemned spills its animus of sound and intent, vocals an inhospitable and dirty scourge against the imposing tang of the guitars’ enterprise and ruinous creative spite. It is a rancor though rippling with contagious toxins and fiercely addictive virulence, a brutalising which simultaneously seduces.
Day Of The Pest steps forward to grab a favourite position within Devoutness, the track cancerous in heart and tone but set spinning by delicious discord caked slithers of guitar and spikily cantankerous rhythms matched by ravenously jagged riffery. As all tracks in their individual ways, it is a kaleidoscope of invention and malice, relentlessly fascinating and uncompromising but, even as mighty as it is, quickly outshone by the psychotic imagination and craft of Expiation. The instrumental overwhelms ears and immerses the imagination in a carnal look at a busy and selfish world; the track sure to inspire different journeys and thoughts in each of those coursing through its evocative landscape but sure to inspire.
Both Sacrilegious and Sickening Runes inflame ears and incite greedier hunger for their pestilential ingenuity. The first has poisonous mystique flowing through the sonic veins of its grooves and barbarous animosity soaking vocals and intensity, every minute of the song a searing and bruising threat whilst its successor is a furnace of crippling bad blooded craft bred by the skills of Savoldi and Fanara and bound in the jaundiced and exhausting energy and imagination of Fassoli. Both tracks leave the senses disorientated and pleasure full before The End brings the outstanding release to an exhilarating conclusion. It is apocalyptic, haunting, and overwhelming in its immersive qualities; another instrumental that simply and impressively isolates the listener from the real world.
Devoutness is one of the extreme metal highlights of 2015 so far. There is very little to temper enthused words for its cruel and thrilling alchemy, only the small drop out of sound as tracks turn in on themselves and the band swings in potent breakdowns a niggle, but as our promo was digital we will put it down to that, and if not it is nothing to diminish the craft, temptation, and adventure Synapses set free throughout. Quite simply Devoutness is a must check out for all death and technical extreme metal fans.
Devoutness is available from August 4th @ http://synapses.bigcartel.com/