From the official System Syn biography:
Clint Carney first began writing and performing music under the name System Syn in 1997. During the first seven years of the band's existence, system syn self-released five full-length albums and three EPs, remixed over fifteen top electronic artists, appeared on seven different compilations, and contributed to a motion picture soundtrack. On top of all of system syn's studio work, the band was also building a reputation for themselves as a powerful live act, having shared the stage with such artists as Daniel Ash (of Love and Rockets, Bauhaus and Tones on Tail), Red Flag, Seabound, Stromkern, Informatik, Babyland, etc.
System Syn was new to the pages of Gothic Paradise with their release Postscript. However, by now most listeners will be well-acquainted with their sound from the Gothic Paradise Club Mix radio show where plenty of their tracks from that album have received plenty of airplay. 2006 brought about the release of their eagerly awaited follow-up album The Mourning Ritual which continued on in the same vein as their previously released work. The band continued to remain active with 2008 seeing the release of End, Strangers in 2010 and 2011 presenting All Seasons Pass. In 2013 we were presented with another great release in the form of No Sky To Fall. The combination of EBM and synthpop from these albums create a hard-hitting, yet melodic form of dance-friendly music that fans of other related artists can really enjoy.
No Sky To Fall - Review
It's a real pleasure to be presented with another great album from this band after their previous concept album. Any regular reader or listener here at Gothic Paradise should be very familiar with Clint Carney and his project System Syn. The powerful blend of heavy hitting electro-pop and EBM styles with a dark edge have become a definnite regular feature here on the airwaves. This new album is another great addition to the discography from this project with eleven great new tracks featuring the heavy electronic music we love. Not a concept album this time, just focusing on the various facets of life, love, political and social issues, all presented in a way most listeners can relate to.
The title track starts it all off with a powerful mid-tempo beat and catchy rhythm with the electronic loops pulsating over the heavy beat as the solid vocals portray the story and meaning of each lyric. The mix of driving beats and surging synths continue to keep the listener moving with "The Privileged". The socially loaded lyrics come out strong amidst the layers of electronics and heavy beats as we move from this piece to the more upbeat track "The Boys Who Make the Music". This gives way to the emotionally charged piece "Hide and Seek" featuring a softer beat amidst more of a minimalistic approach, though still remaining as a powerful piece amongst the rest of the album.
As we reach about the halfway point of the album we're presented with a trio of really stellar pieces that stand out as favorites with their layers of pulsating electronics over a moving beat while the vocals drip with emotion and angst, really bringing out the power behind each piece. The track names give great clues into the depths of each pieces starting with "Daydream from a Deathbed" and then moving on to "Breathe In" which is more of a type of instruction as it seems the music on these pieces tends to take the breath away. And finalizing this set of pieces is "Lost" which seems to carry forward the intensity and emotion from the previously released concept album. The intensity definitely doesn't end with these pieces, and following close behind as still another excellent selection is "Truth and Consequence".
The social and religious content continues with the final trio of tracks in the form of "Myth", "Empty" and "A Prayer of Ending". "Myth" continues on in the vein of driving, pounding electro-pop with a melodic take and a definite angst-ridden edge to the lyrics and vocals, expressed well with the heavy synths and moving beats. "Empty" drops off as a sort of down-tempo piece with something of a trip-hop rhythm before we shift slowly to the more intense finale piece "A Prayer of Ending". With that the album wraps up nicely, leaving the listener maybe a bit emotionally drained and breathless, but definitely satisfied with another stellar release from this project. Overall it's a great album that fans of the previous releases will definitely love as the solid foundational styles remain intact, yet building and including some new variations in the music, rhythms, intensity, lyrical content and so forth. A great release that fans new and old will enjoy.
All Seasons Pass - Review
Shortly after their 2010 album we're presented with this latest work as a haunting concept album. However you get this album be sure to pick up the lyrics and booklet if it's available digitally, otherwise buy the physical CD, there's also a book with the full story available. The concept is around the last days in the life of a woman that went missing in 2006 and found dead four months later. I'll leave it at that and encourage the reader to dig deeper into this album, the lyrics and story behind it. It's all presented in music spanning eleven tracks of varying intensity and styles typical of past System Syn releases, no big surprises here, just good music with deep meaning behind it all.
Leaving the idea of the concept behind the album for a minute, as we pick apart the album and the various tracks we have here a nice variety of music. Any one individual track stands well on it's own, some are more catchy than others, possibly more appropriate for the dance floor such as favorites that have been on rotation on Gothic Paradise. "Ordinary Life" is definitely one of these, graced with a solid, steady beat, somewhat melodic electro-pop styles and heavily layered electronics. The emotion in the vocals comes out steady and strong across the pulsating rhythms to help the listener feel the story as much as hear it. "An Excuse Never Received" carries on with an up-tempo beat and raw emotion just coming in waves through the catchy analog-style synths and angst-filled vocals. Others appear later on in the album, not quite as clean and melodic as these, but more intense and edgy and definite highlights including "Mercy" and the catchy, yet cynical sounding "Good Night".
While the aforementioned pieces and a few others stand well enough on their own, the album really should be listened to in it's entirety to hear and actually feel the whole story, the pain, sorrow, love and loss felt by those involved. These come out through emotionally charged waves of music whether anchored by a hard and heavy beat or softly, drifting along like "Homecoming". At the end of the album a combination of all of the above come out on "Funeral" and finally on "Confession". Starting off with brooding piano and mid-tempo percussion along with other subtle elements, this slowly builds with the intensity of the lyrics and vocals until we reach a harsh and driving climax with vocals and powerful synths being driven by heavy beats, driving the listener, giving the feeling of being driven, driven over the edge.
There you have it, pick it up, listen to it on a good day, feel the meaning behind the music, lyrics and the story. It's sad, heart-breaking, thought-provoking, even depressing... and a great album.
End - Review
Here we are with the latest from this dynamic and powerful electronic project. The band has been busy putting together some great material for this album that fans have been awaiting for a couple of years now. It would take quite a bit to top or match their previous work and this disc definitely comes close if not achieving this lofty goal. With eleven solid tracks to complete this album we have another powerful collection of melodic, driving electronic music.
After the introductory track "Preparations" sports some experimental elements, we're thrown right into the pulsating synthesized fray of the driving rhythm of the stellar track "Like Every Insect". This piece shows what this project is all about, sporting an array of various synth loops layered over a driving, heavy dance-friendly beat with Clint's solid vocals ringing out. This album is packed with tracks like this where the driving percussion keeps the pace moving and the intensity up for one stellar piece after another through the powerful synth grooves of "Open Wrists" or the awesome melodic layers of "Blood". This latter piece has quickly become a favorite of mine as the intensity builds through the use of very melodic and dynamic synths over an upbeat, dance-friendly beat.
Other tracks that are maybe not solid club pieces are still moving and feature many of these layers of synths and powerful soundscapes carrying the meaning of and behind the lyrics to the listener. "Broken Fingers" still features much of the intensity and driving synths behind the other tracks and is still quite dance-friendly and powerful. "The Void" brings down the intensity quite a bit and is actually something of a somber piece which provides some great dynamics along with other lower and mid-tempo pieces like "The Skeleton of a Heart" or the truly somber piece "Resurface" with it's soft and subtle synths overlaying the still solid percussion. The somber piece "Drain" begins with some excellent spoken word samples featuring the dialog "Is there anything in this life but grief?", "There's hope, there's hope that you'll find something worthy that you're life will lead you to some joy..", "Is that enough? Is that enough to live on?". This is a perfect way to start to wrap up the album as we slowly move through this piece and then fading away with the aptly named "End of an Ending" which slowly builds with one layer of synths over another, then adding the vocals as yet another layer until it finally builds and includes new layers of percussions just building and building ever so slightly and then finally gradually fading out in much the same way it began to finalize the album in style.
There it is, another great work from this project that fans around the world should love and enjoy.
The Mourning Ritual - Review
This band has really grown on me since the release of Postscript, so I was very pleased to see the release of this album so quickly from them within just a year of their previous work. It was also immediately evident that they were sticking with their solid synth / EBM crossover sound with intelligent lyrics coupled with solid, clear and melodic vocals. With eleven solid tracks, there's plenty of great music here for electronic music fans ranging from the harsher driving EBM to the emotionally laiden melodic pieces.
Like the previous work, the album starts off with a driving force in the form of "The Isolation of a Realist". This piece remains a favorite even after listening to the album at least a dozen times because of the clarity, not only in the vocals, but the musical production remains clear and solid. Dropping off in intensity every so slightly is "Everything to Everyone" with some simple piano loops as a nice additional touch to the guitar and subtle electronics that match well with the message of the lyrics. This gives way to the heavy electronics and driving beat on "I Am Here" which also remains a solid favorite on this disc. This wraps up the driving introduction of the first three tracks as the pace drops off for the emotionally ripping, downtempo piece "Winter Current".
One thing that really stands out well on this disc are the vocals. Throughout each track they remain strong, maybe not a trained vocalist or dynamic tenor, but they're solid and clear and the talent becomes evident on "Stillborn" as it remains pretty much an acappella piece and introduction for "Blank". Unfortunately this piece drifts off into break-beats that makes the track lack any real movement until the chorus. While the electronics are cool and overall song is cool, these break-beats at first become a bit agitating. I think once these are left behind, I don't know that there's really anything else lacking on the album, another five tracks of excellent talent shine forth, from the experimental "Silent" with it's introductory static "noise" which fades to a beautiful electronic and piano piece that is accented and finalized with the excellent vocals. This gives way to my definite favorite on this disc "The Blind", with simple pulsating electronics building and accented by guitar and a steady mid-tempo beat, and wrapped up in excellent lyrics and vocals "shine the light into my eyes, show me color in this grey, paint a world around me picture perfect...", what more can you say?
After "The Blind" you would think it would be really hard to measure up, but the final three tracks continue in that same excellent way, maybe not the club-hit 130 bpm piece, but stellar nonetheless. After "Beneath The Sand" and "Exit", we're left with an excellent, almost electro-clash piece "The Other Side of the World" which wraps up the album in perfect System Syn style. Once again they've pulled it off with this disc and I look forward to many more...
Postscript - Review
While I was disappointed in Clint's side-project release of Fake, I was pleasantly surprised to hear this album. It seems that once again, amidst the numerous bands that Metropolis Records has picked up, they've found another great with this one.
At first I thought we were going to hear another album full of driving EBM like so many other similar recent releases. While I really enjoy the driving EBM of the first track "burning out", it gave me the feeling we would be set for more of the solid, yet overused EBM sound. But as the album went on I realized we actually had something of a gem here in this work. With eleven dynamic tracks varying from the hard-edged EBM, to melodic synthpop and analog-laiden electro-clash music.
After the powerful introductory track, "into my veins" shows the powerful emotional side of this band. The tempo slows down as we delve into this deeply tragic track where Clint really lays everything out for the listeners. But after this deeply emotional track we move into the dynamic moods of "if you never heal". The electronics and vocals of this track sound like a mix of Ladytron meets VNV Nation. That may sound strange, but it really does work on this album. A similar style flows out of "existence in neutral" for more dynamics on this album.
After the incredible dynamic nature of these first few tracks the album moves on back into the hard-driving EBM music and harsher moods. This overall style permeates tracks like the harsh and angry "all the human things" and others but mellows out for another emotional meltdown on "the saddest sound was you". This provides something of the climax for the album and leaves us with a couple more songs and the finale of "Judas kiss".
That wraps up the album and what makes eleven excellent selections. With the range of styles the band covers on this album, it's something that many people can really get into.
Label: Metropolis Records