SODIAC - Vendetta
This review was commissioned. However, it bears no weight on the score or decision. All reviews are written from an unbiased standpoint.
Helsinki, Finland-based artist SODIAC has been producing music ever since he was eleven. What set him off on his journey was Avicii’s “Levels” and the first time he listened to it; moved beyond words, he began to experiment with music on his own. He’s always been experimental, bouncing between a plethora of genres. But it wasn’t until recently that SODIAC settled down on synthwave as a focus. Releasing singles here and there, he’s worked on synth-based tracks such as the self-described, Beverly Hills Cop styled song ‘Yesterday’ (featuring American singer Shayna and released on Future 80’s Records), as well as a dream pop track called ‘Last Time’ (featuring Canadian artist Merrilee).
His most recent outing comes in the form of “Vendetta”, a six-track album released on Girlfriend Records. SODIAC described the creation of the album, citing his morning bike-rides to work for the 5am shift and the jams listened to therein as main influences. The likes of Genesis, Alex & Tokyo Rose, Gost, SebastiAn, and Rammstein major influences on the EP. SODIAC went on to say, “Rammstein’s chopping guitar, Alex’s modern synth sound, Genesis and SebastiAn‘s very smart and original way of using old samples was something I wanted to try to get into my music so I started with a bunch of ideas at the same time and they’d turn into what would be my debut EP, Vendetta.”
And what a debut EP it is, and what a shame that not more people are listening to it as I type. The hype train for the EP began for me with the cover art; a well-drawn portrait of a fierce-looking woman bathed in a crimson sunset. SODIAC’s logo dots her head, but it doesn’t detract; it seems natural with the image. A skeletal tattoo, or perhaps the glow of cyberware pumping through this character’s veins, also gives the portrait an animalistic, rabid sense. I don’t normally fall for cover art, but this is striking. What’s best is what’s on the inside, however.
The first song on the album is ‘Trust Only Blood’. This three-minute and forty-nine second track has all the hallmarks of a classic synthwave track mixed up to become not necessarily something new and revolutionary for the genre, but a piece that’s fun and exciting. More about atmosphere than it is about catchy dance beats, this is like a soundtrack to a training montage, a scene where a badass is equipping all their weapons, and preparing for the fight that’s ahead of them. The opening of the EP begins with gorgeous piano keys, flowing water, what sounds like spinners zooming through the sky, and radio chatter. Soon after, warm synths flow in until the song breaks open around the one-minute and ten second mark. Heavier but exciting lines take place of the melancholy, but there’s always a sense of hope.
The following song is a collaboration featuring Andreas R. Gregor as vocalist. SODIAC harnesses the power of synthpop and futurepop to create a catchy, energetic beat with a sense of urgency. As if at any moment something’s about to pop off – and perhaps not in our favor. Andreas R. Gregor’s performance perfectly fits the song and flows the beat. The clean vocals are accented but an ever slight echo, reverb, chorus, or what-have-you effect which gives his voice a update for the technology age.
We then move into the slow trickle of synth notes on ‘Where It’s Dark’. The forty-second introduction is a cyberpunk haven of deep, low bass and brighter synth notes. When we get past that, it’s all about dance beats straight out of darksynth territory. Again, while it isn’t ground-breaking, there’s a certain mechanical level to the track that has me jumping every time I hear it. It’s that mixture of cinematic ambiance and familiar beats that elevates SODIAC’s music.
‘Akari’ doesn’t waste much time with a build-up, only giving enough time to realize that we’re getting into something heavier thanks to the choppy guitars. When we get into the meat of the song, we’re listening to a chiptune inspired, crunchy guitar laden musical spectacle that I just can’t get enough of. ‘Azrael’ is a real haymaker, traversing from soft synth pads straight into harder dance beats mixed with SODIAC’s signature touch of cinematic pauses. The final song on the album ‘Opus Nocturne’ leads us out on a queer blend of mysterious beats that, for some reason, reminded me of the Unsolved Mysteries theme song.
If I haven’t convinced you thus far, then I’ll just say it bluntly; “Vendetta” is damned good and deserves a listen if synthwave is your jam. Eight out of ten.Oct 30 2022
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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