Sinoptik – The Calling
Ukrainian band Sinoptik released their first album back in 2014. In the same year Russia annexed the Crimea and later Russian-backed militants occupied the Donetsk Oblast administrative building. From here they declared independence from Ukraine. This is the region of the country where Sinoptik were originally based, along with fellow metal band Jinjer. A war followed and Donetsk fell to the insurgents. Those are not the most ideal conditions for a band to grow. But grow they did and 2021 sees the release of their fifth album “The Calling”.
The conflict did not deter them, but they had to leave their homes and ended up in the capital, Kiev. Here they hoped for a better and safer life. However, although they are Ukrainians, they were treated as second-class people. The band were marginalized and oppressed just because of their hometown. They were told that they were different and that the outbreak of war was their fault. Almost daily they were faced with radical social exclusion and inequality, in their own country, by their own compatriots.
The trio quickly learned to adapt to their environment and acquired a strong DIY attitude. The band has already performed countless concerts in their home country and even won the ‘Best Band in the World’ award at the ‘Global Battle of the Bands’ in Berlin in 2016. They are now ready to conquer international territory. If only there wasn’t a pandemic going on.
The longest tracks on the album start and finish proceedings, ensnaring listeners like the jaws of a Venus flytrap. The first of these is the opening number ‘Le Menteur’. There’s plenty of variety in this track with influences old and new. Heavy crunching riffs punctuate mellow serene passages. The album has a concept, but not strictly a story, more like chapters in the life of a man.
It’s possible to pick out styles dating back to the 1970s. Indeed, the band cite some of their influences as Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, and Pink Floyd. The effect of these and others on the band’s music can be heard in ‘Granny Greta’ and ‘Young and High’. These are followed by a one-minute instrumental interval called ‘Inception’, featuring Dmitriy Afanasiev on acoustic guitar.
The band describe ‘Apple Tree’ as an optimistic rock anthem. It doesn’t come across to me like that, as its fairly laid back. However, it livens up later with Hammond organ style keyboards that are reminiscent of Procol Harum or Argent.
“The Calling” was recorded and produced in the band’s own studio by singer / guitarist Dmitriy Afanasiev. In their first single ‘Black Soul Man’, the band deals with the strange paradox of being a stranger in their own country. The song has a classic rock vibe with an anthemic chorus. It tells of the oppression and constant conflicts the band has to deal with every day.
Sinoptik – Black Soul Man (click here if the video does not play)
‘Sell God’s Number’ – has an accompanying video that was made at Korostyshev boarding school for children with mental and physical limitations. It is one the heavier numbers on the album and is about choices. The band elaborates thus, “We frequently make choices recklessly and after choosing, go towards the goal just to abandon it as soon as obstacles arise”.
Sinoptik – Sell God’s Number (click here if the video does not play)
Another short instrumental interlude follows called ‘Absolution’ that sounds suspiciously like ‘Inception’ being played backwards. Then we come to the final track, and I think they have saved the best until last. There are lashings of Pink Floyd influence in the first part of ‘The Call’. This morphs into a sumptuous soaring chorus that is a real earworm. It then becomes an infectious hum-along before returning to that powerful chorus. It finishes its 9:34 minutes in the Floydian style it began in.
Sinoptik – The Call (click here if the video does not play)
As a result of the traumatic times, lyric writing for the band has become emotional and personal. Sinoptik admit they are not trying to re-invent the wheel, just produce a great sounding and technically sophisticated album. In that, I believe they have succeeded. Mixing influences, genres and styles has made for an enjoyable and interesting album. These guys have to be applauded for their bravery and determination in the face of adversity. They’ve been made to feel like the underdogs but have the bark and the bite to come out on top.
- Le Menteur
- Granny Greta
- Young and High
- Apple Tree
- Black Soul Man
- Sell God’s Number
- The Call