Ok, so you may or may not know this band, but they aren't one to be overlooked (well they weren't when they made this). They were highly skilled and this was their last album before Roland Johansson left. Anyway, this album is full of great metal guitar riffs, drumming fury, and lots of face-melting vocals! I for one really like this band. I've heard other bands do this style and they can't pull it off. As another reviewer put it, "some bands THINK they can play in the metal playground" but obviously, they can't. These guys put all of the others to shame! These guys really have something special!
1. Encaged- From the distorted beginning to the fading at the end, this is a track that will make anyone's head bang along to the beat! Richard's screams come in and give you a blast of evil, but then Roland come in and makes it a beautiful song. The chorus is brilliantly done and I really enjoy this song! It is definitely one of my favorite on this album, and I recommend it more than all of the singles that they release off of this album! There is definitely passion in the lyrics and the delivery. I've never heard anything like this before. I listened to this and wanted to find more bands that did this kind of style, but none of them sound nearly as good as this band, particularly this song! This song is one of this band's ALL TIME BEST!!! GREAT JOB!!!
2. Hellgate Worcester- This one starts off way faster than the previous one and the riff is really intense! The verses are really aggressive and in your face and then the chorus is slower and is like a metal pop song, but then the verse comes back and it's a thrashy metal frenzy again! And the flow is EFFORTLESS!!! There's no gaps, no trips, no stumbles, and it doesn't sound forced at all! This genre crossing is something they can do easily on this song (and lots of others on that note). I enjoy this song a great deal too! Definitely another high point of this album!
3. Jack of Diamonds- Well this is the big single from this album. This is the one that I heard first and it got me into this band. My friends and I were just driving and they put this song on and I wasn't really into metal back then and I just really loved this!!! Again, because I wasn't into metal back then, I thought it was Disturbed or some well known band like that. Nope! Sonic Syndicate! I had a blast jamming to this song in the car and it's still as catchy now as it was back then! Richard and Roland do such great vocals throughout this song! I really like the chorus and the opening guitar riff! This song sounds like the power metal I love, but with death growls! It's a great song, especially for a single, but not even close to the best song on here!
4. My Escape- This slows things down a lot. It's a beautiful ballad with lots of string synths and showcases Roland's vocals! He is the voice of Sonic Syndicate! Like, usually, I don't really care about when a band changes vocalists, they usually continue making music and I get used to the change. Not this band. When Roland left, so did their signature sound. This isn't even close to their best ballad, but it is still a reminder of how good they were when they made this one! The song is so perfect, yet it is their worst ballad with Roland on vocals! And that's saying something! Track 7 on this album is a much better ballad in my opinion, and Enclave off of their previous album, Only Inhuman, is their absolute best ballad! This one is good and relaxing, but it drags on just a slight bit at the end. Still, it is very beautiful, though. Good song!
5. Fallout- This is a rocking song! I like it slightly less than the others, but it does have a good beat! This one features Roland more prominently on lead even though it is a faster song, but Richard does have his presence alright! I do like the dual lead vocals this band does, but I do appreciate the songs that have Roland more in front, because it reminds me more of power metal :D This song is just awesome!
6. Power Shift- This song is instantly catchy and a little more chill...and then the guitars come into the forefront of the mix and it just becomes aggressive and extremely catchy! I really love this song and it ranks up there with Hellgate Worcester as one of the better songs on this album, but it's not in the category of "THE BEST" with Encaged. This one though has a very catchy element to it and the synths, while being only in the background, add a load of power to this song in my opinion! The drumming on this one is more laid back even though it's still pretty intense. The guitars are more chill as well. It's a nice midtempo rocker! Great song!
7. Contradiction- This is one of THE BEST songs on this album! The first time I heard this song, I was BLOWN AWAY!!! Roland's voice is golden! The rest of the band really does this song justice too! Even though this is a ballad, there are some pretty intricate guitar parts and the drums have some good fills and beats in there too (even some double bass?). Needless to say, I really love this song! I can along to this one time after time and I will always love this one! It never looses its beauty! This song showcases this band at its peak. Phenomenal song!
8. Damage Control- This one starts off in your face with the drums and guitars just shredding off some midtempo fury! The synths add an eerie layer to the already blistering guitar parts and then Richard is still alive! Richard comes back after having less presence on the previous few songs. Roland and Richard do lots of edgy vocals over some very thrashy guitars and some very heavy drums. The chorus of this one is also one of my favorites on the album! While I don't rate the song as high as the others, I do find the guitars and chorus to be very good! This band definitely knows how to make songs with edge on them! This one and Hellgate Worcester are the heaviest ones on the album! And they are great!
9. Red Eyed Friend- I've heard the song on their previous album called "Blue Eyed Friend" and this one is better. I don't know if they're making a series with that, or if it's just a coincidence that they have similar names, but this one has great emotion, passion, and lyrics. I really enjoy this one! Sonic Syndicate have managed to make a perfect album up to this point and it just keeps going! This one really rocks and has a great melody! Love it! Richard has lots of presence in this one and the guitar interlude/solo in the middle is GREAT!!! And then Roland comes in and sings with that beautiful voice of his! AWESOME!
10. Affliction- This one starts off with a keyboard back ground with some grooving guitars and then Richard and Roland come in. This one is the longest song on the album and it is noticeably longer: The others are all 3 & 4 Minutes and this one is 5 minutes. This one is also another great song! The main riff may be the best one on here since Jack of Diamonds. The vocals on this one are some of the most passionate of the whole album and I really love this song! I'd say that for those unfortunate souls that have the regular edition of the album, this would be a great finale, but I'm so glad that the album doesn't end here for me, because this one makes me want more Sonic Syndicate! I highly enjoyed this song too :D
11. Ruin- This one starts off really fast! Richard starts screaming as soon as the song starts! This song is good, but sadly, I don't like it as much as the rest of the album. I find it overall slightly bland. I like it, yet it doesn't stay in my head like most of the other songs or songs from their previous album. It's a good track though. If this was a bonus track on Only Inhuman, I would've liked it more, but on here, it just doesn't stand up to the rest of the album.
12. Dead Planet- This one is GREAT!!! This one makes up for Ruin being less that par. I really like this one! Roland and Richard do some dual screams over one of the best guitar parts of this album! Roland then shines in the chorus of this one and I really do like the message of this song! That if we don't do something about the state of our environment, we will be living on a dead planet and all the damage will be too late to repair. I really liked this one and I think the album ends a lot better with this song! It has more passion than a lot of the other songs and I would put this one up with Contradiction and Encaged as one of the Essential tracks off of this album. If you get the regular edition and don't have this song, you have an incomplete album. This song really should be part of all the editions. It's just that good! Great song!
Overall, this album is very relevant to metal today! If you listen to melodic death metal, but you don't listen to Sonic Syndicate, then you really don't know what you're missing! In Flames should be proud of what they influenced! This band might have replaced In Flames as the better Melodic Death Metal band from Sweden...but Roland left. If you haven't heard Sonic Syndicate, get this album and then get Only Inhuman. If you have heard of Sonic Syndicate and have all of their stuff and are sad that they aren't the same anymore, get HellFrost by The Unguided (see my review for that). The Unguided is the new Sonic Syndicate! It is Roland, Richard, and Roger back and heavier than ever! While The Unguided are good, they probably won't ever make stuff like Sonic Syndicate made. But Sonic Syndicate will never be as good as the Unguided! The Unguided has a much heavier sound and more guitar fury! Check them out! Overall, this album is great and if you like it, I encourage you to check out The Unguided and more of Sonic Syndicate's small (sadly) catalog of albums.