Syrant - Coming back 3.5/5

Reviewed: 8-7-09


1. All talk
2. Coming back
3. Ride
4. My brother
5. Start a fight
6. The war inside
7. The kings entrance
8. The hour of the king
9. Doomed
10. In darkness
11. Always a price
12. Truth becomes a lie
13. Wake me when it's over

Armed with a pedigree that's 23 years in the making, no one will confuse Syrant with being metal newbies. This quartet has paid its dues in full in the dank, sweaty nightclubs of Detroit, Michigan. Despite recording a pair of demos in the late 80s, Syrant did not succeed in attracting an elusive record contract, so they soldiered on in obscurity. Numerous line-up changes ensued, including most notably the departure of original vocalist Steve Pirrone, who was seriously injured in an automobile accident in 2006. Determined to continue despite this tragedy, Syrant found a suitable replacement for Pirrone in Brian Thomas, whom many will recognize as the longtime frontman of legendary Motor City shock rockers Halloween. Finally, in 2009 Syrant's full-length debut CD, 'Coming back', has seen the light of day of Motor City Metal Records, the same label behind Halloween.

This one's for the faithful, old-school headbangers. Indeed, 'Coming back' consists of 13 tracks of no-frills, unapologetic, pure U.S. metal. Tempos stay almost exclusively in the mid-paced realm, with simple but effective riffs, good vocals, and memorable choruses. A fair comparison might be to 'Sirens'-era Savatage, with the meaty riffs and the raspy snarled Oliva-esque vocals. I'm also reminded of acts like Rychus Sin and Saint. The opening 1-2 punch of "All talk" and "Coming back" gets things off to an impressive start, with quality songwriting and fine performances. Elsewhere, cuts like "The hour of the king" and "In darkness" shine through as well. To their credit, Syrant do attempt to expand their sonic pallette with longer power ballad-esque song forms in a couple of spots, specifically the 6-minute "Ride" and 9-minute closer "Wake me when it's over". Very occasionally, Syrant conjure up theatrical elements of Thomas's other band, such as the swelling keyboard intro of "The kings entrance". For the most part, however, 'Coming back' unleashes a steady diet of mid-80s sounding midtempo meat'n'potatoes metal numbers.

All of that said, it must be emphasized that Syrant can expect to find favor in only a specific segment of this site's readership. Those of you who yearn for speed galore, symphonic flourishes, and big melodies may not find 'Coming back' to scratch your metal itch. Nay, Syrant are much more stripped-down and old-school in their approach. If you're cool with that kind of mid-80s purity, then this CD is recommended, because it is well executed and very enjoyable. My only constructive criticisms are that I think 'Coming back' would have benefited from the "less is more" concept and the track sequencing could have been tweaked. As to the former point, it's difficult to expect even a devoted metal listener to sit through a 13-song, 63-minute marathon of largely similar-sounding material played at the same speed by an unknown act. Maybe it's my short attention span, maybe it's the ADD information-overloaded quick-cutting era in which we live, but I think most bands are maxing out their listeners' patience at about 10 songs and 50 minutes. I'm not saying that 'Coming back' is larded with fluff and filler, because I don't think that's true. The material is good, there's just too much of it. As to the latter point, I thought it was a major tactical error to have perhaps the least exciting ballady track on the whole CD, "Ride", slotted as track #3. It's my least favorite song on 'Coming back', and it just sucks all the momentum and energy out of the thing, which is a shame given that Syrant were on a roll with cuts 1 and 2. Move something like "Always a price" into the track #3 spot, and the overall impact of 'Coming back' would grow exponentially.

I tip my cap to Syrant for slugging it out in the trenches for all these years. The blood, sweat and toil they've invested in 'Coming back' has paid rich dividends. They may not have revolutionized the genre, but they have made a strong CD in the classic, unadulterated metal style of which they can justifiably be proud. It is my ardent hope that this recording isn't just a one-off, and that Syrant will find their way back into the studio to stitch together a follow-up before too much more time passes.




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