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Album Reviews : Synthetic Breed – Perpetual Motion Machine

By on April 3, 2011

After the release of 2008’s Catatonic and a year spent in the wilderness (metaphorically speaking that is), Melbourne’s proggy, industrial death machine Synthetic Breed’s sophomore record has finally seen the light of day, and the fittingly complex and mechanically titled Perpetual Motion Machine

The brains behind the band is undoubtedlyVincent Zylstra, who astonishingly plays guitar, bass, programmed the drums as well as produced, engineered and mixed the record – hell he even created the album’s art work. Fans of Strapping Young Lad and Meshuggah will throw themselves whole heartedly into the album, whereas the more restrained and progressive moments conjure up more avant-garde acts like Cloudkicker, Animals As Leaders and SikTh. The opening “Resilience” is an outstanding way to kick off the record, with a fantastically off-time middle section and powerful clean vocal refrains, the chiming intro of “Oblivion” gives way to more mountainous guitar work, while the off wall solo of “The Quiescent Subject” shows what a talent Zylstra really is. Vocalist Callan Hughes might not have the most powerful extreme vocals, his cleans make up for it easily, as his strong singing passages cover the record. Meanwhile, it’s fairly undeniable that “Perpetual Motion Machine” would have been a much better sounding release sonically if it was recorded with a real kit, as opposed to the programmed drums on the album, but after a few tracks you get adjusted to the sound of the computerised fills and blast beats.

Instrumental piece “Narcissistic Indulgence” works a slight breather but “Scourge” has an air of ‘filler’ throughout it’s somewhat brief running time. One of the album’s winning points is the six minute plus “Afflictions Of Advancement”, and it basically sums up all the great aspects of this record, with walls of maniacal guitars fighting over one another to be heard, before pulling it all back for strong hits of Hughes’ great clean vocals. A common complaint that could easily tacked onto the entire record is that the band sound Meshuggah. At some points, they really sound like them. Of course, sometimes being able to write bloody good songs is a fairly decent trade-off for a little bit of a lack of originality, but it wouldn’t be too hard to see some potential fans put-off by the constant worship of the legendary Swedish nutters.

Even though it lasts a fairly comfortable fifty-five minutes, Perpetual Motion Machine is still a fairly weighty record, so expect to have to give it a few spins before it reveals all it’s secrets, but once it sinks in expect it to stay there for quite a while. Expect big things from this band in the not too distant future. 8/10

Band: Synthetic Breed
Album: Perpetual Motion Machine
Year: 2010
Genre: Progressive Death Metal
Origin: Melbourne, Australia
Label: Symbiotic Records

Track listing:

1. Resilience
2. Beyond The Sphere Of Reason
3. Oblivion
4. Convergence
5. Molecular Self Assembly
6. Narcissistic Indulgence
7. Scourge
8. Mirrored Reflections
9. Afflictions Of Advancement <- Reviewers Choice
10. The Quiescent Subject
11. Reciprocated Damnation


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.