Recommended Aussie Band:Tamerlan Empire | Sydney Symphonic Black Metal | Listen

Album Reviews : Mnemic – Sons of the System

By on July 14, 2010

Mnemic have always seemed to be a band that had some promise, but never quite got there. Their interesting form of groovy industrial metal has always had a lot of potential, and many times they get there and nail a really good song, but throughout their career they have always seemed to drop the ball and fall short of creating a great album. In short, Sons of the System (2010) is another such album. For those unfamiliar with the band, musically speaking, Mnemic kind of sound like what Meshuggah might have if they hadn’t decided to be insanely technical, primarily due to the pounding 7-string chug-heavy riffs. Add in the entertainingly diverse vocals and you have kind of a hybrid between Mudvayne and Meshuggah. Sons of the System is the fourth album by the Danish outfit, and the second to feature vocalist Guillaume Bideau after the much-mourned loss of star singer Michael Bøgballe.

Upon first listening through Sons of the System it seemed that Mnemic had finally got the formula right, for the first several tracks were quite catchy. Unfortunately, by the album’s end it was clear that Mnemic had made half a good album. Indeed, this is precisely what seems to be the case: the first six songs of the album, from the thrashy introduction of the title track through to the close of the more morbid “March of the Tripods” provide some very quality metal. These tracks feature plenty of groovy riffs to bang your head to, some nice melodic feel courtesy of the keys and synths that successfully complement the sound rather than destroying it (as results from some industrial outfits) and a wide variety of both heavy and clean vocals. However from there the album rapidly falls downhill. The second half of the album seems to reflect exactly the sort of problems that have plagued Mnemic in the past: sung choruses that are irritatingly poppy, guitar riffs that just go nowhere, and long passages of bland metal. What’s worse is that these tracks, ranging from barely average to quite irritating, come after such a good run of songs, easily some of Mnemic’s best.

That being said, in all fairness the first half of the album had some good quality metal. The quasi-djent riffage of the band’s guitar duo ranges from thrashy to good mid-paced groove metal, plenty to keep the head moving, though their simplicity may fail to appeal to the technically-appreciative metalhead in the long term. It is in the vocal department however that Mnemic’s true strength has always lied. Former vocalist Michael Bøgballe (aka Brad Pitt- seriously, check out the video for “Door 2.12”) had an impressive vocal range, capable of a collection of high and low shrieks before moving seamlessly into sung choruses where he could easily hold his own against some of the best. His replacement first came on 2007’s Passenger in the form of Guillaume Bideau who clearly showed potential on many songs but unfortunately came off as poppy and cheesy on too many. Sons of the System showed a clear step forward in this regard,with Bideau actually sounding much more like his predecessor,to good effect,  with the powerful sung choruses often being the highlight of the songs, most notably on “Mnightmare”, “The Erasing” and “Climbing Towards Stars”- in fact these three are probably the highlights of the album.

However, despite some impressive vocal performances on a few good songs at the album’s start, there is no escaping what Sons of the System truly seems to be: half a good album. If you have liked Mnemic’s music in the past then their latest release is worth a look, but if not then half a good album is probably not worth your money. Understandably I hope, half a good album gets an obvious score. 5/10

Band: Mnemic
Album: Sons of the System
Year: 2010
Genre: Industrial Metal
Origin: Aalborg, Denmark
Label: Nuclear Blast/Riot! Entertainment
http://www.myspace.com/mnemic

Tracklisting:

  1. Sons of the System
  2. Diesel Uterus
  3. Mnightmare <- Reviewer’s Choice
  4. The Erasing
  5. Climbing Towards Stars <- Reviewer’s Choice
  6. March of the Tripods
  7. Fate
  8. Hero(in)
  9. Elongated Sporadic Bursts
  10. Within
  11. Orbiting

About

Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.