In December of 2012, one of my favorite bands, In This Moment, posted a video from some band, Gemini Syndrome (?), on their Facebook page. Who?? Hmm, let’s check it out. Kevin Churko’s producing, so it can’t be bad, right? This led to me playing that video for the first single “Pleasure and Pain” some 47,000 times over the course of that weekend. I became a Synner. Two singles, and, “Where the HELL is this album, already?” later, it has finally arrived. Or should I say landed. Like some otherworldly entity, the Metal Gods have seen fit to give us LUX, the debut album from Gemini Syndrome, out today via Warner Bros. Records.
“Pleasure and Pain” is the perfect opener. It is the type of song that if every football team played it in their locker rooms before games, there would be absolute blood and carnage on that field. It is so visceral, and so primal, you just can’t sit still. “Basement”, a deeply personal song for singer Aaron Nordstrom is next, and it is hard-hitting musically, lyrically, and emotionally. For these reasons it is one of the best the album has to offer. The guitar riffs on “Falling Apart” are a musical knuckle sandwich, and the irony of my words is not lost on me since it is a song about an abusive relationship. The rhythmic give and take, coupled with the clean and harsh call and response of the vocals on “Resurrection” make this another standout track, especially when taking into account the lyrics.
My absolute favorite is “Stardust”. It’s a bit faster than the other songs, and its uplifting sound is downright anthemic. Much like the opener, I had to repeat this a million times before I could move on. It’s one hell of a song, and expect to hear a lot of it in the future. “Mourning Star” is fucking scary at the beginning, before transforming into one of the most beautiful choruses on the album. A seriously out-of-this-world guitar sound is all over “Left of Me”. Kevin Churko has coaxed sounds out of this band that I’ve never heard in my life, and I’ve been listening to music a LONG time!
“Pay for This” is another killer track. It’s all about winning without fighting. Very profound. But the song itself is a musical beat down, beats and riffs swirling about in some kind of whirling dervish before “Take This” changes up the pace. Emotionally, it’s a heavy song, despite the inauspicious beginning, and really showcases Aaron’s voice, as does “Babylon”. There’s a real push and pull in this one, and as it builds up steam, you can feel like the city is gonna come down at the end of it.
And the award for Best Guitar tone/sound/riffage of 2013 goes to Gemini Syndrome for the beginning of “Syndrome”, without a doubt. Drummer Brian Steele Medina explains the song like this: “‘Syndrome’ is an anthem. It holds a special meaning for us. It’s a song that really does explain the duality of the band. The music paints a perfect background for that journey. The verse gives space in it to tell the story, and it opens up to a chorus that’s very driving and forceful. Then there’s just a big, fat, heavy bridge that smashes you.” All I know is that this is one sledgehammer of a song, on one piledriver of an album. “LUX” serves as an epilogue/outro to the album, to the journey, to this physical and spiritual ride we’ve just gone on for 12 songs.
Look, I don’t profess to know anything about duality, or anything like that, which is a recurring theme in Gemini Syndrome’s music. Here’s what I DO know: This band is 100% USDA Prime the future of heavy metal as we know it. They have depth, talent, riffs for days, and amazing songs. They have made a Synner out of me. I already know where LUX going in my Top 10 Albums List of 2013, and if it isn’t, at the very least, in your Top 3, then something is wrong with you.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM