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Syberia – Statement on Death Review

Syberia – Statement on Death Review

Is it possible to make a political statement—or indeed any nuanced statement—through the medium of instrumental metal? Today’s subject, Spanish post-metallers , believe so. On its fourth full-length, Statement on Death, I am informed that the band tackles “a very worrying issue in the United States of America: police violence against people of color, and each song narrates a specific case.

” This is a contentious and highly politicized subject, on which many people have wildly divergent views of varying validity. In all honesty, I am not sure how one sets out to tackle such a subject with no lyrics at all. While I am a big supporter of instrumental metal, it has its limitations. I would suggest these are found when one seeks to move beyond expressing a general mood or emotion, such as sadness or rage, or perhaps certain tangibles, such as the seasons. Can  make any sort of meaningful statement, let alone a Statement on Death?

Since 2019’s very good Seeds of Change has recruited a new drummer, Manel Woodcvtter, to the fold. Whether he has influenced the songwriting I don’t know but, compared to its predecessor, Statement of Death is both grander and heavier, leaning further into post-metal, where previous outings where perhaps better described as post-rock (although that dividing line is admittedly porous). There are also now hints of black metal woven into the fabric of Statement on Death in some of the guitar work (“Ain’t.Care.About.Bullets.”), while Syberia is also content to lean into a slightly more progressive and exploratory vibe in its use of guitarist JordiOnly’s synths and programming (“Nothing Inside”). Having, by pure chance, reviewed an instrumental post-metal album last time out also—Novarupta‘s great Carrion Movements—I find myself unable to avoid making comparisons.

Although both are post-metal, Novarupta and Syberia operate at opposite ends of the spectrum. Where the former ebbs and flows, with much of Carrion Movements‘ run comprising stripped-back atmospherics building toward a cathartic crescendo, Syberia play in a more fulsome and fleshed out style throughout. The moments of peaceful introspection and quiet, or pure atmospherics, are few and far between, with the band operating with a rich sense of grandeur for much of the record. Statement on Death‘s melodic edge is omnipresent, whether on insistent and ominous opener “Stolen Childhood,” or the melancholic and doom-infused “Breathe.” In this, there are parallels with the very good Hex by Toundra, albeit that there is, unsurprisingly, no levity or joy to be found here in the guitarwork of JordiOnly and Oscar Linares. At its most effective, this lingers in haunting and repetitive refrains (like around the five minute mark of “Breathe”). Album highlight “Nothing Inside” has a mournful heft to it that got me on each listen, feeling like it does indeed have something to say.

There is undoubted quality to be found and enjoyed on Statement on Death, and the production is also good, feeling rich and layered, with the melodic leads sitting nicely alongside Woodcvtter’s work behind the kit. The album suffers from at least two issues, however. First, it contrives to feel much longer than its actual 42 minutes and this is, I think, a songwriting issue. Syberia play at a relatively even tempo across the record, largely avoiding the sort of quiet-build-to-a-crescendo model favored by many post-metal acts. As such, the absence of vocals leaves Statement on Death feeling somehow one-note, lacking differentiation across its runtime, the skill of the four musicians notwithstanding (the exception to this is the excellent “Nothing Inside,” which I have listened to over and over). That one-note feel is only compounded by the fact the album just fizzles out, in a somewhat nothing two-minutes of synths, garbled electronica and barely-audible sampled vocals at the end of otherwise decent closer “No Frames to Remember Them.”

The second issue is a conceptual one, which bothers me but others may shrug off completely: if a band sets itself the lofty goal of commenting on something as emotive as police violence against ethnic minorities, then it had better deliver. And I’m afraid that, because of the medium in which Syberia works, namely instrumental post-metal, Statement on Death was always likely to come up short. It’s a good mood piece but, putting the suggestive song titles aside, it could be about practically anything. Compare this to Novarupta‘s aim of delivering an album based around the ‘wind’ element, and one was always going to be more successful than the other. I enjoyed my time in Syberia but Statement on Death is ultimately forgettable.

Dreya Roland

Dreya Roland who currently writes daily content related to videos and Entertainment newd for Fakazahits. Over the past year, she has interviewed the likes of Zeeno, Exdee, Jabosky, and even Acetune. Some of her work includes our first long-form investigative piece, Rap and Afro Pop Singers, as well as various pieces of Original Content centered around trending topics in amapiano.

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