Sometimes it must appear that I write these reviews primarily to abuse them for some or other reason. Indeed that is going to happen here as well. I am going to rant on a bit about the good side of p2p file sharing. If you want to skip right down to the nitty gritty (i.e. the review), skip the next few paragraphs.

The music industry will have us believe that p2p file sharing applications ("Grokster" and "Kazaa", and formerly "Morpheus" and "Napster") are really barely disguised manifestations of Satan Himself. The bands lose out on thousands of dollars, the labels miss out on even more. Metallica made perfect asses of themselves by taking on "Napster". Those who defended them, those who claimed they hadn't 'sold out' with the musical direction of "Load" and "Re-Load", could now only admit that Metallica had indeed sold their souls to money. To quote Zimmershole: "Napster, Napster, where's the money that I've been after?"

I am myself a frequent user of "Grokster". I download music all the time. I download movies all the time. I have several different kinds of "Grokster" downloads: Old classics (from 50's to 70's a lot of stuff has never been released on CD) and tests. I download music to check it out. It has replaced listening to CDs in a music store. This makes sure other people don't have to wait for me until I've finished hogging up the CD players in the music store. Surely there is only benefit here, for all parties involved? If I download music I like, I buy it. If there is only one track I like, and all the other tracks are crap, I don't buy the whole CD but I keep that one track. In this case, the band should have made a more consistently good album.

Now I do realise that not everyone has my kind of, well, values. A lot of people download music, burn it on CD and never buy the CD, ever. But I wonder, would these people have bought those CDs if it hasn't been for p2p file sharing? Suppose John Doe has US$ 100 to spend. He buys a handful of CDs and downloads shitloads more. My point is, he would not have spent more than those US$ 100 on CDs in the first place. The bands that John actually appreciates very much (say, um, Dream Theater), he will buy anyway because he wants the lyrics, the artwork, and the somewhat better quality that CD offers.

p2p file sharing has more advantages. Unsigned artists, for example, can get their music out to the masses without the intervention of record labels. I think this is a fact, more than any other, than frightens the pants off the record company moguls. The records companies stand to lose most. The bands only stand to lose a little. I heard somewhere (and I readily believe) that about 2% of what you pay for a CD in a shop goes to the recording artist.

The thing that record companies miss out most on is compilations revenues. At various parts of the year, they release "Best of Summer Hits Volume 37", "Rock Ballads Volume 23" or "The Ultimate Rave and Dance Orgy Volume 3521" type compilations. Who will buy these compilations when you can simply make your own compilations, tailor-made just for you, from any of the p2p networks? Right, no-one. But consider the fact that these compilations are very easy, low-cost attempts for the record companies to earn an extra buck. And consider the fact that we're nearly exclusively talking, um, 'contemporary pop music' here. I have to say that I wouldn't feel in the slightest bit guilty about downloading the latest R&B rehash of an 80's classic by whatever trendy MTV artist. Not, that is, until I have to confront my own innate sense of taste, which is a whole different story altogether.

Have you ever considered the huge relief on the earth's resources when there will be no more useless compilations of this 'contemporary pop music', flogged on gullible youths who are far more concerned about 'fitting in' than with the actual music? Contemporary pop music is just the wallpaper in the background of a just-developing social life, force-fed by MTV and popular radio stations. It's just easily digestible music, flaunted by barely-clothed females and cute-looking boys whose talents do not extend much further than their ability to do an attractive little dance in front of the camera.

It is my firm belief that most of contemporary pop music is conceived by adults according to some Stock-Aitken-and-Waterman type formula of sorts, to be delivered by young, good-looking adolescents who show just a little bit more naked skin than is considered strictly decent at any given time. I believe that it's made with the sole purpose of giving todays youth a feeling of belonging, in exchange, obviously, for the bit of their weekly allowance that isn't spent on mobile telephony. I believe that p2p may hurt that one-day-fly, fleeting market for the gullibles whose tastes change every other month. However, I do not believe that any form of p2p file sharing will hurt any genre of quality music, whether that be metal or jazz or classical or, for all I care, fusion greengrass country and western punk.

Hm, right. And the reason why that rant came out was the fact that I decided to download Sinergy's "Suicide by my Side" and, upon listening, concluded that I wanted to have that album. In this case, as with quite a few that I shall not elaborate upon here, the principle of p2p networks actually caused a few extra CDs to be sold...

Below is where the review starts. Apologies to those who waded through the above and considered it way too much to wade through but, upon having waded through most of it, decided that they had to wade to the end.

A couple of years ago I bought Sinergy's "Beware the Heavens", more or less on a whim. If memory serves me correctly I reckoned it was a "nice metal" release, lacking the actual balls to be more than "nice". I don't know what the band did on "To Hell and Back", their second release, though I suppose they must have gone on to heavier pastures what with that title and all. With "Suicide at my Side" they have definitely switched into the heavier side of things. Although it is still recognisably Sinergy (i.e. a bit of a cross between Children of Bodom, In Flames and Nightwish), they have taken their trademark sound and thrown in more chunky riffs. And riffs there are by the wagonload. Guitar work, as usual, is pretty good. The drumming is at a high standard, too. I think not only the original Sinergy fans will like this, but also those who reckoned their debut was a bit too much on the pop side of things.

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Written December 2002


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