To much fanfare comes “God is an Automaton”. This is Sybreed’s fourth album. With influences such as Fear Factory, Meshuggah, In Flames and Depeche Mode, their brand of music is termed “death wave”, which amounts to a mix of extreme and progressive metal with futuristic melodies.
What I heard here was a kind of video-game cyber metal, modelled on Swedish melodic metal but with silly voices. It strays into other areas and I guess you could compare it in style to Mnemic or even Mercenary at a push but it’s a very poor substitute. The problem is that throughout this album there’s no character. It’s completely derivative and the cyber thing seems to suck all energy out of it. The opener “Posthuman Manifesto” has an all-round sound but it’s very strange and very uninspiring with its synthesised noise and automated vocals. Such vocals work for Deathstars or Clan of Xymox but they’re Goth types, where this seems to be some sort of modern metal. The harmonic chorus is all wrong. There’s melody and a smidgeon of atmosphere but there’s too much confliction of styles.
“No Wisdom Brings Solace” is similarly all over the place. Yes, it’s fast and aggressive and breaks into a harmonious chorus but it doesn’t hit the spot. The irregular rhythm and darkness could be used to good effect but this track doesn’t go anywhere and inserting the synthesiser just doesn’t work here. Sybreed do manage to make this combination work later on the creepy “Destruction and Bliss”, but before that we’re subjected to a poor imitation of Swedish style melodic metal. The singer’s hoarse voice has no impact, and the output is false and tinny. The title track has a bit more drama but lacks interest and again is all out of sync. The drums blast away and the harmonised chorus seems to be de rigueur but it’s flat and there seems to be no meaning. If that’s bad, “Hightech versus Lowlife” is what I can only describe as a masterpiece of dysfunctionality. Triggering and dominant drums are not enough and in any case stand in isolation. There’s no structure, it’s out of key and the experience is of total blandness. “Hightech versus Lowlife” is just crass.
So you may gather I got nothing out of this album. No amount of growling, harmonies or over-played drumming was ever going to pick it up. “A Radiant Daybreak” threatens to break out of the blandness that the drums epitomise but the format is the same and even frustrating as any semblance of raw energy or aggression gets washed away in deathly tedium. I sense that too much compromise has been made between metal and harmony, resulting in an unsatisfactory combination of both and a constant watering down of what wasn’t very inspired or original to begin with. I quite like the “video game metal” on “The Line of Least Resistance” and “Challenger” but while these and other tracks threaten drama, ultimately there isn’t any. Blank after blank is fired, endings are poor and it’s just metal wallpaper.
I was glad when this album finished. I confess that “God is an Automaton” was completely lost on me. I found it unoriginal and stupefying. Some parts of it were more tolerable than others, but for something supposedly energetic and fresh, it just sounded tired and seems to be a case of all hype and no trousers.
(3 / 10 Andrew Doherty)