Album Review: Syrinx – Embrace the Dark – Seek the Light

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Band: Syrinx | Album: Embrace the Dark – Seek the Light | Year: 2019 | Genre: Heavy/Traditional metal, Progressive rock

From: Vancouver, Canada | Label: Church Recordings

For fans of: Queensrÿche, Rush, Fates Warning, Iron Maiden

Buy: BandcampAmazon

Optically, it may be weird to use genre labels including both the words “traditional” and “progressive” to describe the same band. But truth be told, many progressive rock acts do little to progress rock, and traditional metal provides a broad enough template to allow a lot of innovation. Syrinx take their base sound from the realm of bands like Judas Priest and Black Sabbath. But they add the structural complexity and ambition of early prog-metal bands like Queensrÿche alongside aesthetic flashes of some ‘70s prog giants like Yes and Rush. Embrace the Dark – Seek the Light is full of fun and energetic riffs, but there’s a healthy dose of rhythmic weirdness and structural abstractness.

After opening with a short, swirling instrumental, Syrinx dive right into a shining example of their hybrid sound. “Time out of Place” is carried on the back of a tight, anxious riff during the verses, and the chorus features a cascading synth line that could have featured on a classic Rush album. The ensuing “Devil’s Soldier” opens with a soberer tone, but it doesn’t take long to launch into a more aggressive timbre. While one of the less-proggy tracks on the album, it’s engaging, and the vocals, a hoarse semi-shriek, are especially striking.

It’s on “ZXY” where Syrinx most clearly stretch their creative wings and flaunt their musical chops. This 10-minute epic begins with an ascending riff and springy, melodic bass. The riff, which lacks a strong point of resolution, keeps the song tumbling forward. Despite this strong riff, the bass is the real highlight of this first part of the song. The playing is aggressive with jazzy flourishes, channeling Chris Squire in his prime. The second half of the song stands in stark contrast to its opening tension. It’s much slower, gentler, and more meditative.

“Pronus en Terra” continues this calmer atmosphere, opening with an eerie synth drone and slow pace. The chorus feels ritualistic with its nearly-chanted vocals, underpinned with weird guitar chords and squirrely synthesizer flourishes. It picks up intensity in the second half, where the rhythm section is once again a highlight. Specifically, the space age-sounding synth gives off Hawkwind vibes.

“Get out of my House” is one of the weaker tracks. It’s got a high-energy riff that reminds me a lot of Van Halen and other 1980s metal acts. There are a couple moments of interesting dissonance that resemble something off a Voivod record, but this is probably my least favorite track.

“Colloidal Silver” continues some of these Voivod-y experiments with dissonance and weird chords in between soaring, synth-backed choruses. The rhythm section and guitars seem to be playing two different songs at times, but they make it work. The closing “Chateau Tryst” is slower and features the album’s only use of unclean vocals, to great dramatic effect.

Syrinx, like many prog acts, are an unashamed throwback to the sounds of decades past. But they don’t so much harken back to one particular band or scene as they create a fusion of several: Black Sabbath-style early doom, Judas Priest-ish traditional metal, and Rush- and Yes-style progressive rock. The resulting work is occult, cosmic, complex, and engaging. Embrace the Dark – Seek the Light is a fantastic release and an early contender for my album of the year.

Score: 92/100

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