Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Live Review and Album Review: Sintax: Sway For A Better Day release show @ Gargarin, Tel Aviv [30th May 2015]

   Although there was a show at Koro tonight I could have gone to review (my apologies to both Jeronimo and Krokodil Popular, whom I was hoping to give support to, and Regel Sabres, who I don't really know), I have ended up tonight at Gagarin in South Tel Aviv for yet another metal show. Tonight celebrates the release of Jerusalem Metal band Sintax's new album, Sway For A Better Day. As most of the set consists of songs from the new album, I shall be doing my first ever 2-in-1, reviewing both the show and the album.

         Photo by Sharon Shapira

   I have seen Sintax once or twice (I can't really remember) over the last few years and never really paid proper attention to them. I always thought they were good but never all that memorable. Tonight, I have come to check them out with the proper attention deserved and also give support to the two Sintax members I know from hardcore band "03" (Efes Shalosh), Lemmy and Misha. Misha has even turned up in a No Turning Back shirt, which has to be a first for out here.
    There were two supporting bands, Mechanigod and Sinnery, who I missed due to tardiness, but managed to turn up just in time for the main act. Ascending the stage to the sounds of sirens and under quite blinding lights, it is quite an epic entrance despite a low turn out. The band then kicks in to the set opener, the weirdly named Fine Line To Sodomy (track 5 on the album). The song has an amazing opening riff with thrash drumming and basically stays pretty old school throughout the song. The chorus is very headbang inducing, although I'm not really seeing much of that amongst the crowd. The band are putting a lot of energy into the performance. I already know that Lemmy (rhythm guitar) and Misha (bass) are great performers from their 03 shows. Lemmy is jumping every chance he gets as Misha strums his bass with gusto and an aggressive (although incredibly content) expression on his face. Lead guitarist Roi (ex-Shworchtsechaye) keeps reminding me of Shane Embury of Napalm Death; he's a mature (in age) fellow with big hair and a goatee (technically, Embury has a Van Dyke) who plays standing quite still but still oozing coolness. Frontman Yehi (frontman of Caveman King and owner of Blaze Bar in Jerusalem) has great vocals and a proper metal presence but sometimes lacks on the enthusiasm and energy that the rest of the band shows.

    Photo by Sharon Shapira

Next song, Up For The Physical (track 8), is quite classic metal in style, especially with its long and haunting melodic intro. The "Stop wasting my time" refrain is infectious and can be used in any pissed off situation. Throughout the song, the style switches from the more classic metal sound to pure thrash, ending with an amazing thrashy climax. Drummer Nir, who, from where I am standing, is pretty hidden in darkness, seems a bit off in this song. The cymbal crashes didn't seem to be in the right places and the fills often seemed like he was squeezing too much in. Despite that, he continued to play spot on throughout the show. 
    Shooting Starts is a very new song which is set to be put on the next record. It's a heavy and groovy track. The vocal rhythm and general feel of parts of the song reminded me of the heavy parts of a song called Fundamental by PUYA. It's almost on the verge of rap metal and I for one am not complaining. Lemmy is encouraging the crowd with all his might like some sort of knight leading his men to victory. He's so metal, it's not even cheesy...just brilliant. The band then invite Orel from Mechanigod to join in on guitar for I Get It Now (track 7). The song has a frantic intro, with fast paced riffing and chaotic drumming. The song stays pretty thrash throughout and causes major headbanging. At the show, the sound was a bit muffled so everything was a bit unclear. On record, however, the song is clearly a banger with an awesome ending. 
   Title track Sway For A Better Day (track 2) takes us back to a more old school vibe with some solid standard 4/4 drumming which then switches to 6/8 at around the 1:30 mark (yeh...I'm getting all technical on your asses right now!) and back to straight up metal. There's a more modern metal groove near the middle of the song which, at the show, got me swinging my head as Lemmy bounced over the place. Let's Get Mental (track 3) starts slow, heavy and demonic. The guitar melody could easily be summoning Satan [Punkalovich does not endorse Satan worship or the black arts in anyway...although The Craft is a great movie]. The pace then picks up and the "pit" here tonight eventually opens up, although there's still not a lot of people. The song is a great thrash number with changing drums patterns and interesting breakdowns. The "Let's get mental" refrain near the end of the song is something that, with time, all fans will be throwing their horns and shouting along to. 
  The following few songs in the set are newer songs lined up for the next release. Moti (Spawn of Evil vocalist) joins the band for a song entitled Pen Sword, which starts off groovy and then goes full on thrash. Finally, there's a bit more excitement on stage as Moti is properly engaging the crowd with eye contact, hand gestures, a lot of hair swinging and an evil yet incredibly pleasurable smirk. I already liked Moti from when I saw Spawn of Evil first time I came to Gargarin so I'm not really all that surprised. Both Hate People and Most Hated Man In The Universe give us a dosage of both thrash and groove, with the pit opening up again during the latter. 
     The Answer...The Name... (track 6) marches itself into thunderous double kick and chugging guitars followed by blast beats and fast riffing. The song itself, especially on record, sounds a lot like classic Metallica, which isn't a bad thing at all. I didn't really get that feeling live; it just came off as raw death metal. Either way, it's good old fashioned fun!

Photo by Sharon Shapira

   The band then treat us to two covers. The first song turned out to be You Can't Teach An Old Dog New Tricks by Seasick Steve. Unexpected and interesting cover song choices are always a thumbs up in my book. Even though I had a feeling the original was not even a metal song (the slide guitar was a bit of a giveaway), they still played it their own way which had me far from thinking it was a Seasick Steve cover. This song was then followed by a proper hardcore bassline from Misha. As soon as it started I thought to myself "Don't I know this?" Ex-Instinct frontman/current 03 frontman/current Best bassist Jenia who was standing next to me then asks me "This id Pro-Pain, right?" Pro-Pain are one of my favourite bands so I was going to kill myself if I didn't recognise this. It wasn't until the "Outta my way! I'm coming like a freight train right on through ya" part of the chorus that I realised that this was Don't Kill Yourself To Live and my wish for a band out here to cover Pro-Pain is actually coming to fruition. I thought it might be one of the more hardcore or crossover bands so this is a great surprise. I of course move from my comfy spot at the bar to try and put some life in the empty space by singing along at the front of the stage. Even Lemmy coming down into the crowd for the whole song didn't really get anyone excited. THIS IS PRO-PAIN, PEOPLE!

   After a new, more hardcore sounding song entitled Lunch Time Funeral and the fairly progressive and melodic Four More Years (track 4), the band treat us to yet another new song which doesn't even have a name. The song itself reminds me of the Stampin' Ground song Officer Down. The vocals seemed to run the same and had a very similar groove (I'm using "groove" a lot in this, aren't I? I need to find a new word...) 

   All in all, I am glad I came tonight to celebrate with the band and see and hear them properly. They both surprised and impressed me with there mixture of classic metal, hardcore and thrash. The newer songs sound great and I am now very eager to hear what is yet to come. Sway For A Better Day is a great listen. The fact that it's mixed, mastered and partly recorded by the legendary (in my eyes) Mark Mynett of long forgotten Manchester electronic metal band Kill II This in itself is pretty cool. Everything is played to perfection and Yehi's vocals sound immense, sometimes even more heavy on certain tracks than others. The only thing that bugged me at first were the toms. Maybe it's because I am a drummer and I pay more attention to these things, but the toms are incredibly high pitched and also quite high in the mix. After a while, former drummer Rom's impressive musicianship trumps the actual tom sounds and it all seems to work. Although this album didn't make me jump for joy and isn't breaking any boundaries, it has it's moments and will please many a metal fan.

Live: 4/5
Album: 3.5/5

Thanks to Sharon Shapira [Facebook] for the photos. 

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