Synaptik -
Justify And Reason

(CD 2016, 60:28, The Snakes Of Fire Records TSOF003)

The tracks:
  1- The Incredible Machine(6:13)
  2- Human Inhuman(6:27)
  3- Conscience(8:45)
  4- White Circles(6:18)
  5- Esc Ctrl(7:17)
  6- A Man Dies(5:29)
  7- As I Am As I Was(7:19)
  8- I Am the Ghost (Intro)(1:00)
  9- Your Cold Dead Trace(5:13)
10- Your Cold Dead Trace(6:13)

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A bit of a confusing release is this second album of the UK based progressive metal band Synaptik. Their debut album hails from 2014 and is called The Mechanisms Of Consequence; just for the record, an album I never got to listen to. Something that I regret missing after listening to Synaptik's 2017 release Justify And Reason. But the confusing part is the fact that this second release holds ten tracks, which include four that were already featured on their debut and one track is featured in two different versions. Now I don't have the information if those tracks are re-recordings or used to make this album a full album. Either way I still am very pleased this album has come along for a review and it will be judged as a full album just for the reason that I am not familiar with the returning tracks.

Synaptik is a UK progressive metal band that adds a nice portion of trash in their music, jumpy, nasty guitar riffs can be found right along nice melodic parts, creating a surprising atmosphere. The vocals also take you back in time to the heydays of trash, but also easily can compete with the best progressive metal vocalists. Founders are vocalist John Knight and his brother and guitar player Ian Knight. Other members are lead guitarist Jack Murton, bass player Kev Jackson and drummer Pete Loades.

The album kicks off with a fast and powerful track; The Incredible Machine, a song that combines the trashy elements with progressive metal. Vocalist John Knight gets assistance here from the album's producer Meyrick De La Fuente, What really stands out on this song is the way the band shifts from the powerful riffs to more delicate melodic parts, creating an interesting balance of styles. During this first track there is constantly something working in my head, because of some kind of recognition, but due to the two vocalists it gets to me only close to the end of the track. John Knight's vocals are the closest I have ever heard to Damian Wilson, regarding his melodic and softer parts. The continuing tracks will confirm my thoughts and although Human Inhuman kicks off as a high speed track, the resemblance to and anabolic Threshold comes to mind, when John takes the lead with his fine voice. Even the riffs and solid drums refer to a nasty version of Damian Wilson's previous band. Iron Maiden riffs lead the next track in; Conscience fuses not just the aforementioned styles, but also embeds the smoother parts of Iron Maiden, Shadow Gallery and Myrath to end up with a brilliant progressive metal song. I guess the track that shows the finest combustion of a melodic progressive start and filthy trashy riffs and shouts is White Circles. Just love those nasty guitars, screaming from anger! A bit weird perhaps, but after the references of Threshold, Esc Ctrl musically tends to be more straight forward music like that of of Johanne James band Kyrbgrinder. The intensity of the track, the guitar's disharmonic tones and solid drum parts sound like Damian Wilson would have lent a hand to his former band companion. With A Man Dies, the songs that appeared on Synaptik's debut kick off. There is clearly a difference between the older tracks that follow and the first five on Justify And Reason, the songs are less complex, still incredible good, but they do show what kind of progression the band went through. As I Am As I Was definitely has less of a progressive metal song and tends more to regular hard rock. The reference to Damian Wilson is less present here and John 's high pitched screams are referring to the eighties metal, which doesn't really appeal to me. The guitars show some nice, close to neo-classical metal soloing over the trashy riff. The rest of the album basically is just one song; I Am the Ghost is the intro for Your Cold Dead Trace and the final track is a combination of those two tracks. Let's just see that one as a bonus. Nevertheless the final track is one where Alan Tecchio of Watchtower fame guests as lead vocalists. Progressive metal with an Iron Maiden touch is how I would categorise this track.

Like I wrote before, Justify And Reason is a bit of a weird release and even if you are unaware of Synaptik's debut album, you will notice the change that arises halfway the album. Personally I totally love those five newer tracks and think an upgrade of the other ones would have made the difference for the final score. It is good the band chose to show the progress the band has undergone over the years, which makes the first half even more interesting to listen to. All in all I would grant the two parts different grades, add them, divided by two, we get...

**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Dave Smith)

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