The Future Ice Age
Though I've never being an avid fan of electronic music, I've frequently enjoyed it in small amounts, especially interspersed in my metal fix. Bands like Star One, Ayreon, Dol Ammad, and Dimension F3H have piqued my interest, but I've never heard electronic elements blended into my favored genre of power metal. Enter Synthphonia Suprema, an enthusiastic and very unique Italian band that is doing just that, and carving out a niche for themselves in an overpopulated genre.
The single best thing that Synthphonia Suprema has done absolutely right with The Future Ice Age is remembering to write quality, catchy material before adding any sundry elements to the mix. If a band is going to experiment, they'd better make sure of an accessible gateway, or all of their wonderful creativity will be for naught. The classical argument of originality versus quality has little to do with this particular album and band however, as they achieve both rather swimmingly. Heavy metal purists will give this a dismissive grunt, and electronic metal elitists will likely turn up their noses, but the appreciative audience in between will rejoice over this commendable blend of moderate synth work and catchy Euro-power.
Decidedly synthetic and cold, yet highly accessible, The Future Ice Age boasts a number of great tracks boasting quality hooks and musicianship. Gazing at the album cover while listening to the intro track "Future Hammerblows" gives the listener a pretty good idea of the feel that the album is attempting to achieve. The lead singer (whose name is only listed as "Matkracker") has a voice that sounds almost like it belongs in an industrial-styled setting, which makes him reasonably well-suited as frontman for the band's self-proclaimed "synth metal". At times his voice seems to dip or waver, but always remains fairly stable, giving the listener the impression that while perhaps a bit excessively dramatic, he's certainly a proficient vocalist.
A lot of bands are advertised as "symphonic" while in reality they boast precious few symphonic elements other than a token smattering of keyboard. SS don't make claims of being symphonic, but are perhaps more so than certain other imitators. The influence of the synths is constantly present, but oftentimes takes a backseat to the guitar leads or blazing double bass. Songs like "Dominatron", "I, Storm", and the recurring melodic motives in both "Synthetic Aurora" and "Aurora Symphonica" have proven to me that this band is around for more than one pass, and are capable of writing some extremely memorable and first-rate tunes. At times, The Future Ice Age is oddly soothing, despite its often frenzied pace and hammering drums. The icy keyboard lines which may at first seem out of place lend a cool and almost relaxing sensation to what would otherwise be a relentless sonic assault.
Despite a few minor shortcomings and a bit of a strange combination of music (now that I think of it, you could compare Synthphonia Suprema closely to Machinae Supremacy at times), this is a delicious morsel of unique and powerful metal that will confound elitists attempting to place it within a comfortable box. Not overpowering in any respect, the band's blend of lithe synth work and commanding guitar leads is recommended to any adventurous minds in search of breaking new personal ground in the world of power metal. This is one of those albums that should have made it on my top list for 2010, but didn't due to time constraints.
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The Protagonist's Rating: 7.75 out of 10