SML8 - Surreality Review

By Pagan Tordengrav

Formed in 2009 by Scott Van Horn and Adrienne Noyes who reside in the Daytona Beach area of Florida, SML8 offers everything from and I quote “Heavy metal guitar riffs, distorted electronic beats, hypnotising synth mutations, screaming thrash vocals, operatic angelic female vocals, assault of acoustic drum beats and ripping bass lines with diverse modulation... and is an IN –YOUR – FACE experience!”
This genre has always been a favourite of mine as it is offers some of the most purest of extreme vocal sounds but still yet manages to hold a beauty all its own although the operatic female vocals somewhat disturbs me, but we shall see.

The cover is very Cyber influenced and immediately grabs the attention. Inside the CD case offers a booklet which contains the lyrics, tastefully done in an electric blue colour that is extremely eye-catching and screams Industrial at you. There seems little or no bands around Liverpool that can offer industrial in this calibre which is a shame, although we do have our fair share of metal – but the Industrial element is sadly lacking.

The sophistication and musical quality reaches new highs with this surging instrumental that lightens the mood and heightens the senses.

Deeply profound this track spins you into an eternal abyss, haunting melodic keys, and a very hypnotic drum beat then the scourging vocals begin and then following is the female angelic voice of Adrienne. Personally I feel that the female vocal content subtracts from the extremity of the track but the harmonic content from Adrienne is however superb.

Choppy synth mutations with hooked melodies are rife as the track comes into being with a real cacophony of electronic sounds intermingling with some awesome screaming vocals – don’t fight it, just feel it! Ambience in abundance it brings a kind of dark and foreboding mood forward containing some superb jangles of eerie sounds.

Begins with something that sounds similar to an EVP or (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) captured from a haunted house with some equally haunting synth although the operatic vocal somewhat disturbs this formula. The evil chanting type of vocals however, brings it back on track with the melodic content being superb and unrelenting.

Define Design
A damming beat sets the pace and fiery vocals burst into life giving it a nice creepy feeling. Atmospheric synth and predatory beats usher forth but still not really sure about the operatic vocal content which for me again removes the extremity although it does add a haunting quality.

Pulsing rhythmic tones and a hungry beat open this track with gusto and assault on the senses. The vocals are really superb and as it builds to anthemic proportion it batters the audial senses with impressive speed. With lyrics like “Hate me, Assassinate me, you can’t escape me ‘cos I am the Master!” Gives you an insight into what the track is about, and will have you singing along to it in no time - Reminiscent of the fantastic Psyclon Nine and definitely my favourite track on the album.

Awesome beginning which wouldn’t be out of place in a sci-fi movie. Its swishing ambient sounds are complex and enticing and the beats are immensely inspiring. Adrienne’s haunting vocal starts and immediately I feel disappointed although the harsher almost whispered vocal compensates and with it brings new hope.

An array of squelchy synth and serious beats come into play with the most evil of vocals and a wall of sound literally takes your breath away. Beats that literally batter the skull with a resounding madness and are immensely superb!

Cross Conscious Phenomena
Dark, Deep and intriguing the synth takes you on a journey but you soon want it to stop when the female content starts – it just doesn’t motivate me I’m afraid, not that Adrienne can’t sing she has an enchanting voice and offers some diversity but not for this style of music as it once again offers a distraction for me. I feel this kind of sound needs more extremity behind it – this may sound a little negative but it is only my opinion – A weak track in comparison to the previous ones on the CD.

Brilliantly executed evil vocal content with distorted electronic voice offers an intriguing quality and mixed with the choppy little melodic undertones it is exciting with nice heavy laden beats and would be ideal to listen to in a darkened room with headphones on so you don’t miss anything.

A reflective track that superbly executes the music quality and is hugely enjoyable as an instrumental offering some haunting and majestic melodies intertwined with a nice assault of beats, Dave has done a great job here. It gives the listener some sophistication and is ideal meditation music – it will relax the most tense of muscles and carry you off onto a new harmonious level of subconscious.

To sum up - A highly sophisticated CD musically but disappointing as the extremity of the tracks get somewhat lost when the female vocal is added although if it were to be added as harmonized content I feel the tracks would benefit and compliment greatly but this would mean a change of direction for the band however it would still be interesting to see what would emerge if the band was to do this.

I particularly love the spelling for the track Hollow Sin 8 - it is very cleverly thought out as indeed the name itself SML8 and adds a bit of unique quality to the CD. Maybe the female vocals will grow on me after a few more listens - I was expecting a more extreme and grisly content but no doubt it will appeal to a lot of the male population as girls in bands is something of a rarity these days.

This CD is however a musical master-piece and Adrienne’s synth playing has added to the quality of it. But I am sure it will no doubt be well received within the electronic/industrial community. It is certainly not a bad CD even with the female vocals and definitely worth a listen as the production alone is amazing in itself.

Devil Horn Rating (Out of Five): \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/