REVIEW: GEMINI SYNDROME – “Memento Mori”
Birth, life and death. The most essential of trilogies and one that Gemini Syndrome have been determined to explore since their formation in 2010. The band are set to release their latest album which will be entitled ‘Memento Mori’, or “Remember That You Will Die” when translated directly from Latin, on August 19th. Having confessed that the upcoming release is indeed a concept album, as their debut album ‘Lux’ focused on birth and light, ‘Memento Mori’ shifts the bands focus on to mortality, life and the journey that comes with it. What may at first come across as a strict warts and all view of the ever spiraling anarchy that cannot go unrecognized in our world, something deeper lives beneath the surface on this record.
The introduction creeps its way through “Anonymous” before launching into an opening track Disturbed will have wished they had written. Tapping into the madness the 21st century has been enveloped by, the song still invokes a positive message in not allowing chaos to divide us as a society. Quick to follow is both the albums current leading single and a play on its direct translation, the monstrously powerful “Remember We Die”. Vocalist and group founder Aaron Nordstrom gives a powerful delivery throughout this album, giving his entire self to each word. However on this track fans will find a true highlight.
With each new song, Gemini Syndrome continue to push the boundaries of their writing and delivery likewise making each track memorable. On top of Nordstrom‘s vocals, the forever memorable riffing of guitarists Daniel Sahagun and Charles Lee Salvaggio leave only the desire for an equally impressive rythm section to bring it all together. Whether it be luck of the draw or prayers answered, this rhythm section is found in drummer Brian Steele Medina and bassist Allesandro Paveri and initially what follows is only positive. The album does hit a brief lull with an interlude of sorts “La Devastante Verita”, a minute and a half instrumental piece typically expected of most hard rock and metal acts. One might feel this piece is pure filler but to play Devil’s advocate, the benefit of the doubt should be given as this record (or any work by the band) does not seem to come to light without a great deal of thought behind it.The direct follow up “Sorry Not Sorry” is a clear standout not only on the album but as the the next choice of single should there be one.
The albums first single “Eternity” holds its own as a feature track but does not quite pack the same punch as the current single and other potential singles to follow. What is a fine example of this potential can be found in “Alive Inside” which feels as if it were moulded respectfully from bands such as Mudvayne and SOiL, particularly. Similarly, Gemini Syndrome continue to strike gold with the anthemic “Inception” that features the line that lives at the heart of the song, “you are not my God” which Nordstrom only bellows from the heart. Not enough good can be said about this gem that lies just over the half way point.
Another curious lull in “Mori Lucido Somnium” that leaves a lot to be desired as these brief instrumental pieces feel more and more like lazy filler when standout tracks such as “Say Goodnight” wait just ahead. If one can fondly imagine A Perfect Circle covering a ballad by a more main stream alternative rock band then “Say Goodnight” will come as a treat. As the album comes to its final moments in some riffing that verges on Doom Metal, there is yet another interlude. Made up of a person running through woodland, a scream and finally panting, we are left only with the album closer “Brought To Light”. The final words sang are “we will all be brought to light” which seemingly invites the listener in to what will be the final chapter of this trilogy. The song, thankfully, ends this part of the journey on a good note.
Unsurprisingly, death and the weight that comes with its inevitability is not a concept everyone is entirely comfortable with. However Gemini Syndrome do not share this fear in the same way. There is a deep well filled with a vast amount of grim subject matter that can be found on ‘Memento Mori’ but what shines throughout is a more potent force. Instead they embrace this certainty and use it to fuel their love of life and find reason for celebration. “Remember That You Will Die”, though direct, is perhaps an all too morbid depiction of what this album actually presents. Perhaps “Remember That You Are Mortal” would better suit.
Despite some questionable interludes that arguably break up the album and give the listener a chance to catch their breath, Gemini Syndrome have done an incredible job producing this record. Fans of the band coined a name for themselves as a collective and are accustomed to being referred to as “Synners”. So Synners beware and Synners prepare, ‘Memento Mori’ is not for the faint of heart. Its honesty is immortal and it is honest of its mortality. Yet at the center of it all there is a great sense of heart, hope and home.