Review: “3rd Degree – The Raising” by Gemini Syndrome

There’s something deeper under the surface of our music, and it’s designed to allow the listener to resonate and wake up to their potential. See, when an initiation is done properly, who the person was before, and who they are after the initiation, are two different people. Essentially being Raised to a higher degree of consciousness. So when you listen and actually attend to our music, and understand the intention, the same principle applies. Who the listener was before they hear the album, and who they are after, are different. They become a changed person. They’ve transmuted to a new state of being, and the lyrics that they carry with them after the fact become a mantra, which allows them to sustain that new state of being. Looking back, I recognize that music has always sustained me. It’s been a constant and transformative alchemical force, and it continues to save my life, even today.” ~ Brian Steele Medina

It’s been five years since their last confession and 2021 finds Los Angeles Californian Alternative Metal quartet Gemini Syndrome releasing their third studio album with their fifth different guitarist and one who would be a be a familiar face to a lot of Metal heads of a certain age as Miguel “Meegs” Rascón was of course a mainstay of Nu-Metal Kings Coal Chamber. He’s been in the act since 2017 however for one reason or another this is marks his first recorded work with the group who comprise at their core Aaron Nordstrom (Vocals, Keyboards), Brian Steele Medina (Drums, Programming ) and Alessandro “AP” Paveri (Bass) although live they play as a quintet with Nicholas Paul Arnold as a touring guitarist. Following the band’s 2013 debut “Lux” and 2016 sophomore LP “Memento Mori”, the band consider this new record the closing chapter in a trilogy of song and narrative…

As a band the offerings of Gemini Syndrome have always been confident, focused and purposeful while also having that nagging sense that if they had appeared a decade earlier that they could be so much bigger. Their debut is a huge album and despite the commercial success of their sophomore effort, it lacked a certain punch in the mix, the energy and heavier aspects not fully translating, like a prize fighters punch that doesn’t quite make contact. This time out that issue has been resolved immediately with producer Matt Good (Asking Alexandria, Butcher Babies, Hollywood Undead) and “Reintegration” sets things off perfectly. The industrial tinged sounds that augment the instrumentation sound huge under his stewardship with “IDK” having moments at sounds like they belong on “Alien” by Northlane as Nordstrom plays off the lyrics “IDK / I Don’t Know / I Decay” while demonstrating supreme vocal power. The hooks and grooves are as huge as the choruses and the band have created something with instant sing-a-long ability and festival appeal, while still having dark edges and deepening meanings held with the lyrics. What they’ve done particularly well is not allow the embellishing orchestrations of cuts like “Children of the Sun” to overpower their guitars, something which may seem like a small thing but makes a huge difference.

Introspective and cathartic, “Abandoned” goes straight Nu-Metal ranks among the heavier cuts as Nordstrom screams “I’m not angry anymore” with the kind of brutal force that will resonate with anyone who has gone through that kind of pain as arguably the most emotive piece of this jigsaw puzzle. For the most part, bold and bright clean vocals are the weapon of choice but here its full on aggression and its the kind of change up that helps the dynamic of the record considerably. On the opposite side of that coin “Best of Me” is the bands ballad of sorts, trading the heavier sounds for a slow burn acoustic build with electronica and orchestral soundscapes that allow the vocal melodies to take centre stage. It could be considered an obvious radio song if it wasn’t for the lyrical narrative which grows on you with each repeated listen and has a captivating nature. As the album tails off the lyrical clichés a more straightforward chugging guitar work creeps in with parts that sounds slightly unfinished with “Absolution” being a prime example before the heavier mid section of “Where We Started From” saves it from the same fate. At 50 minutes, there is fat to be trimmed in the final third but the first nine tracks are very much on the money [7/10]

Track listing

1. Reintegration
2. IDK
3. Die With Me
4. Baptized In Fire
5. Children of the Sun
6. Abandoned
7. Broken Reflection
8. Sum Quod Eris (Instrumental)
9. Best of Me
10. Absolution
11. Hold the Line
12. Where We Started From
13. Fiat Lux

3rd Degree – The Raising” by Gemini Syndrome is out 15th October 2021 via Century Media

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