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Here we have something quite different. The individual talents of guitarist/vocalist Erin Bennett, bassist Amanda "Fuse" Smith-Skinner and drummer/percussionist Jo Heeley combine to create music that is both uniquely original and sonically accessible in equal parts. The latter two musicians will be familiar to fans of innovative British rock/metal band Rockbitch (subsequently MT-TV in their Stateside guise), while Syren's American frontwoman is a newer name within the scene. The music on 'Dehumanized' is generically unclassifiable and I shall eschew pretentious labelling in attempts to describe its essence, although it could be loosely categorised as alt-rock. That is to say, alt-rock in a very progressive sense as Syren also incorporate elements of folk, jazz, funk and even country in their musical vocabulary, all wrapped up in thirteen tracks of catchy, melodically original songwriting. One of the album's strengths is Syren's ability to convey a powerful rock vibe without relying on the genre's traditional idioms. There are no distorted power chords or clichéd bass/drums rhythm section - rather, skilfully played acoustic guitar to the accompaniment of sophisticated, intricate drumming and affectively expressive basslines throughout. Amanda's virtuosic command of her fretless instrument is musically ingenious, adding inventively aesthetic depth to each of the songs. 'Dehumanized' is also vocally impressive as Erin adapts her wide ranging voice to the suit the changing moods of the music with her powerfully incisive quasi-rock delivery, although showing restraint as and when the songs require. The album is also incredibly well produced (by the band themselves) and skilfully mixed (by John Brandt) - very admirable for a debut, self-released effort. 'Dehumanized' has potentially wide ranging, cross-generic appeal to fans of many styles of music, and with their current heavy touring schedule in the UK (and sporadic Dutch dates), Syren's music is receiving the widespread exposure it deserves. A solid release from a talented new band. Buy this immediately!
Review by Mark Holmes
January 2008
1) Dehumanized
2) Seemingly Blissful
3) Seasons
4) Revenge
5) Treasured Ones
6) Sapphic Child
7) Take To The Stars
8) Tybalt Jones
9) Justice
10) Green
11) The Way That Lovers Do
12) Happy Valley; 13) Virginia
"...potentially wide ranging, cross-generic appeal to fans of many styles of music..."