(N) Syqem - Reflections Of Elephants Album Review

By Pagan Tordengrav
Question: What is more refreshing than a thunder storm?
Answer: SYQEM of course!!!!
Since 2002 Syqem – a four piece eccentric mix of rock and ambient surreal metal guys have been a very important part of the Hamburg music scene with countless gigs, awards (including 2004 winner SPD Band Battle, and in 2005 Promotion from the Erwin Baer Foundation) And in 2007 Syqem was selected from the internationally successful band Schandmaul from over 150 applications to be supported by an intensive workshop on tape. Not really surprising as these four guys are just top notch musicians who know their stuff!
They offer something incredibly refreshing, brutal and yet beautifully unique. You only have to look at the cover of the guys new album above. Intriguing! But what is contained within - you have to experience that first hand and hopefully this review will go some way to describing it in detail.
Well I can honestly say that when I clicked on the Syqem band page it stirred up some pretty deep emotions. I have never actually “cried” whilst reviewing an album before but this music just reaches into the deepest recesses of the mind and hit the emotional button with a very poignant stamp.
Never before have I been so moved in such an emotionally crippling way before. The tears just flow freely like the music. To say this is incredible is an understatement. My heartbeat is raised and I can feel the blood coarse through my veins at a rate of knots. It is all I can do to let the music wash over me like a new form of rebirth.
The band have based this album on the life and works of Salvador Dali, a Spanish eccentric who painted striking and downright bizarre pictures – that indeed gave me nightmares after seeing the Sommeil – a stretched distorted face and thankfully Reflections of Elephants is a lot more easier on the eye! But like Dali – Syqem can produce the most bizarre of tracks and then go on to produce something striking and beautiful with their unique sampling, riffs and beats.
This is new, this is exciting, this is just like nothing I have ever experienced or had the pleasure of listening to - before now that is!
In the bands own words “Syqem paints its own world - not with a brush but with sound waves!” “This allows our musical abilities, desires and influences to cover almost all the aspects of the musical spectrum” – Yes, in one gigantic rainbow. This is nothing short of sophistication and perfection.
It also mentions that Syqem place great emphasis on moods and boy have they changed mine! Eleven years this band has been together and if it were not for Facebook probably nobody outside Germany would have heard of them or have the pleasure of “sampling” their amazing work.
In 2007 they released an EP entitled “A closer look at yourself” which dealt with the question of whether human activity in the nucleus only follows in mans’ own selfishness. It’s quite a thought provoking little title and theme. Their earlier work was not as heavy as it appears now, but still worth a listen.
This album with its superb offering of 13 deliciously spellbinding tracks that will bring you out in a cold sweat and as you cool down suddenly you will burst into flames and spontaneously combust! It makes me come out in goose bumps and sends chills down my spine – the immense intensity carries on throughout the musical bounty of treasure contained within each epic track.
Syqem’s music allows one to disconnect from reality and float undisturbed through a rich inspiring ocean of astounding musical notes that carry the listener into tempestuous wave samples, blinding riffs and poly rhythmic drum beats topped off with great ambient bass from the wonderful Thomas Bernath and not to mention the profound and exceptional vocal chords of Danny Bernath (brother of Thomas) that can be soft and gentle one minute and unrelentingly brutal the next – just like an ocean you can’t tell what the waters hold from one minute to the next – but one thing is for sure it simply does not get better than this.
Be prepared to be poly perplexed, optimised and swathed in the unparalleled sound of Syqem.
Attack of the Elephants
The build-up on this track is like a rolling tidal wave that hits with a thunderous force of a humongous tsunami that sweeps you along into alluring catchy melodic riffs and believe me when I say there are so many of them you will be sure to drown in its crescendos. Beautiful and raw vocals spill out and if the beats don’t get you the vocals will. This is indeed one epic track of awesome that ends up going round and round in your head days after you have listened.
Fabric of my Mind
Beautiful chords and samples build up into such an amazing array of sound on this track. The exuberance in the vocals alone leaves you open mouthed. The Video that accompanies it on You-Tube is just as well produced as the track on the album. Intense and powerful this delivers the goods with resounding uncompromising quality! I particularly love the vocal arrangement it is spellbinding! The samples and synth are so cleverly put together and very temptingly delicious with those “G G G” samples – intelligent lyrics and unique sophistication abound. Danny and Benjamin do such an amazing job on this track with their strings of wonder!
No Se Si Riure...O Plorar
An eerie little flutter of beautiful keys and whispered voices...
Now the immensity of this album is again made apparent as this track starts. Perfect balance and a complete winner with a lot of the Syqem fans, according to their Facebook page. Vocals are naturally raw, and compelling. The melodious tones just melt into a crescendo of rapturous powerful wonder of severity and thrilling but punishing sound. The breakdowns are incredible! The unrelenting sound of Syqem continues until the very end of the track but not until it has reached its peak and then surpassed it.
A deeply thought provoking track. Danny’s vocals are beautifully mellow to begin with and it is like being touched with a feather. The thunderous beats and samples scream out in perfect balance. But yet this has superb quality attached to it – the twists and turns wind and intermingle with amazing ability that comes to these guys with ease. Powerful and dangerously intense!
Some motorbike samples amidst a running stream leading us into the next blinding track.
The Artist
A powerful opening kicks off and then levels out into a balanced harmonious and catchy blend of melodic riffs and beats – “Was it all worth it? “Was it all worth it when you were mine” Well we waited and what we got was more than the world bargained for is all I can say. Amazing to the last!
This has some choppy beats and more melodious vocals that you can shake a stick at! The synth samples are incredible! A superb anthem that offers sumptuous samples, hard edged bass and awesome vocals. Uncompromising, and relentlessly superb! The catchiness is addictive and it offers a more melodic beat and packs a punch with amazing harmonies amidst a damming wall of sound. Feel the magnitude of this track as it escapes from the speakers!! Blinding vocals that are really ferocious and raw with ritualistic content this is another auspicious winner!
Again, another promising track that opens with some amazing poly rhythmic drumming and stupendous vocals. A beautiful arrangement with crisp and beautiful keys and magnificent harmonies that balance perfectly with the plaguing vocals of Danny, it comes together in an immensely superb fashion.
The Machine
More terrific earth shattering dub step samples that lead us into the next track...
You Phone
Interesting lyrics that are sung over an earth shattering blaze of immensely superb synth and critical beats from the amazing Stefan Kopetsch. It is another remarkable anthemic track that gives the listener more to consider than just metal, the dub step samples and the little melodic chops are so significant in this track. Bone crushingly immense!
“Disconnect, Interact never again” the lyrics are soft gentle and intriguing as this little gem only last for thirty seconds but leads up to the final track.
Siamese (In Theory)
And then in a vast array of astonishing beats that flurry quickly from the speakers along with uncompromising bass the final track is upon us. I may be repeating myself here but this again is an anthem of epic proportion with classic melodies that are nothing less than crushingly beautiful! “I won’t ever let you go!” Hell no!
To sum up I will never ever get tired of listening to these tracks. They paint a new picture each time I listen and there is always something new to hear within the tracks - you well get your money’s worth here! But I am getting greedy and want more! How on earth will the guys top this album – I have no idea? They have surpassed in quality, production, themes and musical ability – it is outstanding!
I have lost count how many times I have listened to Syqem now and I still have a long way to go before I am truly satisfied, because for me the end is never in sight. I have heard every note, chord, beat, bass line and sample yet something in me reaches for the repeat button again and again to relive these quality moments.
I love the little snippets of samples on No Se Si Riure...O Plorar, Portlligat, The Machine and Disconnect a brilliant idea and unique.
Although there is a very serious theme contained within the album, the guys themselves share something in common with me – Bacon! Who says the Germans don’t have a sense of humour? But one thing is for sure without a Sense of Humour you have nothing!
I hope you people go out and buy this incredible masterpiece because Syqem should indeed be getting on a world tour and showing off their outstanding accomplishments. I intend to promote the hell out this album and the band because they are a deserving cause.
When I joined the band page a couple of days ago there was a measly 742 likes now it is up to 804 – come on spread the word and reward the band with your listening and liking capabilities. There are no duff tracks at all on this album it is pure unadulterated luxury – why have cotton when you can have silk?
My ears will never be the same again after listening to the awesome and exceptional unparalleled sound of the phenomenal SYQEM. Are you ready?
A big and special thanks to Danny, Thomas, Ben, and Stefan - for bringing this amazing music together - we are definitely NOT worthy!
Devil Horn Rating (Out of Five): \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/