Album Review – SynlakrosS / Malice Murder (2018)

Get ready to be transported to a world of adventure with a good deal of rebellion in the brand new ass-kicking album by one of the most prominent names of the underground metal scene.

Formed in 2008 in the stunning city of Valencia, Spain by bassist Pablo “Roro” Fuentes and drummer Tiko Martínez, the unstoppable female-fronted Melodic Death Metal outfit that goes by the stylish name of SynlakrosS has just taken another amazing step in their (r)evolutionary career with the release of their third full-length installment, the creative, incendiary and utterly fun Malice Murder, cementing their name as one of the best bands in the Melodic Death Metal, Nu Metal and Metalcore scene all over the world, therefore being highly recommended for fans of bands such as In Flames, Slipknot, Butcher Babies, Arch Enemy and Lamb Of God, among several others. Injecting a considerable dosage of energy into our hearts and minds with their music and thematic lyrics, SynlakrosS will transport you to a world of adventure with a good deal of rebellion in Malice Murder, always moving forward but at the same time always loyal to their foundations and, of course, to their already huge fanbase.

In my humble opinion, what really stands out in Malice Murder, apart from its top-of-the-line production and endless electricity, are the insanely metallic and piercing sounds extracted by Pablo from his infernal bass, and especially all the experimentations and different vocalizations blasted by the band’s stunning frontwoman Patricia Pons. She sounds vile, demented, passionate and defiant with her wicked growls, roars and screams, taking her vocals to a whole new (and previously unexplored) level that will certainly please all fans of modern-day Melodic Death Metal. Add to that mix the crushing riffs and solos by the band’s axemen Iván Muñoz and Aarón Hidalgo, not to mention the sensational album artwork designed by Patricia herself, and there you have not only the perfect follow-up to their 2016 opus Death Bullets for a Forajido, but also a gargantuan avalanche of breathtaking metal sounds that will blow your senses mercilessly.

The opening track, titled Angel on Fire, sounds modern, electrified and vibrant right from the very first second, with its futuristic sounds and Patricia’s hypnotizing whispers kicking off a Melodic Death Metal party led by Pablo’s infuriated bass punches. Then in the fast-paced, heavy-as-hell extravaganza named Fatal Frame the band puts the pedal to the metal showcasing furious riffs and tones by the band’s stringed triumvirate, with Patricia growling and gnarling like a she-wolf while Tiko smashes his drums beautifully; followed by Dark Seed, not only the first single of the album but also the epitome of modern-day Metalcore, exhaling sheer madness and rage and with Patricia stealing the spotlight once again with her rabid growls and demented vociferations, as well as Aarón and Iván with their heavy and aggressive shredding. Put differently, this is the type of song that’s absolutely perfect for setting the crowd on fire during their live concerts. And let me remind you that the party is just starting, as in Alone in the Dark, spearheaded by Pablo and his thunderous, hammering bass, melodic guitar lines are flawlessly intertwined with moments of sheer lunacy, living up to the legacy of renowned Nu Metal acts like the iconic Korn.

Eternal Darkness showcases a classic song name for an explosive fusion of Metalcore, Melodic Death Metal and Groove Metal, breaking your neck in half to the precise beats by Tiko (which means it might become a fan-favorite if they add it to their setlists, of course), while Killing Diablos gets closer to their sonority from Death Bullets for a Forajido, but with a 2018 twist if I might say that. In addition, its background effects and tones nicely add an extra touch of madness to the music, while Patricia alternates between her rabid roars and demented clean vocals. Resurrection is another solid and well-crafted metal chant by SynlakrosS where the razor-edged guitars by Aarón and Iván shine brighter than the sun, also presenting a futuristic vibe and atmosphere and, as a consequence, being tailored for jumping up and down with the band; whereas in Morrígan it’s time for total devastation with this steampunk Spanish army, as the “Morrígan” is a figure from Irish mythology that represents a “great queen” or “phantom queen”, being mainly associated with war and fate, especially with foretelling doom, death or victory in battle. Does that remind you of someone? Anyway, I simply love how Patricia screams the song’s name from the bottom of her heart, making it impossible to stand still to this groovy and rumbling tune.

The last batch of songs from Malice Murder begins with Bloody Waltz, a dark an eerie “waltz” of contemporary Alternative Metal presenting elements from the wicked music by Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson, such as its uncanny background keys, sounding and feeling very theatrical, which means it’s perfect for Patricia to showcase all her skills as the amazing singer and performer she is. Then the number of the beast, the famous 666, names another furious and ominous hymn by the quintet where Pablo slams his bass strings manically, extracting beyond lancinating sounds from it and, therefore, supporting Patricia’s screams flawlessly; whereas in Under the Ice there’s absolutely no sign of the band slowing down or getting any softer. Quite the contrary, it’s time for total anarchy with highlights to the perfect sync between Pablo’s bass and the guitar duo’s crisp riffage, sounding even more modernized than all previous songs. In the short and sweet semi-acoustic bridge Undying, we’re treated to some sort of futuristic western-like sonority, before SynlakrosS come crushing one last time in Siren’s Bloody Curse, the perfect conclusion to such powerful album, feeling more melancholic and obscure than all previous songs, transpiring melody and displaying an amazing performance by Pablo on bass and Iván with his fiery guitar solo. Needless to say, Patricia once again slays our senses with her potent growls and gripping clean vocals throughout the entire song.

In case you’re not a “curly wolf” yet, you should definitely start following SynlakrosS on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and obviously purchase your copy of Malice Murder (available for a full listen on Spotify) from their own webstore in regular CD format or as a CD + T-shirt bundle (with the T-shirt also being designed by the unstoppable Patricia), as well as from iTunes, Amazon, or CD Baby. And if you’re already a diehard fan of SynlakrosS, you know the band is going places with their hard work, talent and extreme dedication, with the incendiary Malice Murder beautifully representing what their music is all about and pointing to an even brighter future for what’s in my humble opinion the best metal act hailing from Spain from the past decade and one of the best new names of the current metal scene worldwide.

Best moments of the album: Fatal Frame, Dark Seed, Morrígan and 666.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Angel on Fire 4:24
2. Fatal Frame 3:26
3. Dark Seed 4:03
4. Alone in the Dark 3:46
5. Eternal Darkness 4:33
6. Killing Diablos 3:50
7. Resurrection 3:54
8. Morrígan 3:38
9. Bloody Waltz 3:56
10. 666 3:18
11. Under the Ice 4:05
12. Undying 2:24
13. Siren’s Bloody Curse 4:26

Band members
Patricia Pons – vocals
Iván Muñoz – guitar
Aarón Hidalgo – guitar
Pablo Fuentes – bass
Tiko Martínez – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Patricia Pons

I am a mecha, eternal live. Everything dies while I’m still alive.

The summer might be almost over on the Northern Hemisphere, but here at The Headbanging Moose we’ll help you keep things warm with the fiery and multi-talented Spanish singer Patricia Pons, the frontwoman of Valencia-based Melodic Death Metal squad SynlakrosS, and obviously the chosen metaller to be our Metal Chick of the Month. Owner of a powerful voice and displaying a wild and flammable look by blending several styles such as Gothic and cyberpunk in her attire, Patricia is ready to conquer the world of Heavy Metal together with her bandmates through the uniqueness of their music, and I’m sure you’ll love to read about how she does that, how she prepares for the band’s live performances, among other fun topics. Are you ready to enter the cyberworld of Patricia and her SynlakrosS?

Born on December 10, 1984 in Valencia, a port city located on Spain’s southeastern coast and the third-largest Spanish city after Madrid and Barcelona, Patricia loves metal music, anime and arts from the bottom of her heart, and if possible she wants to have them all at the same time, just to give you an idea of how creative and talented our multi-colored hair growler is. Also a proud vegan, Patricia makes sure she spreads the word of veganism and its benefits anywhere she goes, again connecting that philosophy to her music and arts whenever possible. First, let’s talk about her career as the frontwoman of Spanish act Synlakross, which basically represents her life in heavy music since she entered the band in 2010. Actually, before SynlakrosS, she was part of a band named Kakuseisha, a project that didn’t last long (due to the departure of its Italian guitar player) where she played keyboards and was also responsible for the melodic and guttural backing vocals.

According to the band itself, SynlakrosS (stylishly spelled with capital S at the end) is a “storytelling” Melodic Death Metal band formed in 2008 in Valencia, Spain “whose proposal seeks to inject a good dose of energy through songs that transport your mind to a world of adventure with a good deal of rebellion.” Although the band was conceived in 2008 by bassist Pablo “Roro” and drummer Tiko Martinez (who by the way played together with Patricia in Kakuseisha), it was only after 2010 when the band reached its desired shape and form that things started to take off for those Spanish metallers, having already released a self-titled demo in 2011, their first full-length album Melodichrome in 2013 and more recently the full-length Death Bullets for a Forajido, in 2016. In 2015, SynlakrosS won the metal award at the Granitorock Festival, receiving national recognition and opening the doors for the band to share the stage in 2016 with Canadian metallers The Agonist. Patricia herself describes the music by SynlakrosS as “Passionate Metal”, or even “Killer Metal Music”, because they simply love what they do. If you want to see and listen to Patricia kicking ass with SynlakrosS, there are several official videos and fan-filmed footage from their live performances. For instance, you can enjoy the official videos for the songs Billy The Kid and Paper In A History, the audio for their excellent cover version for Nightwish’s classic Wish I Had An Angel, the playthrough video of the song Beauty From The Deep, as well as excerpts from their amazing live performance at Granitorock Festival in 2015 with the songs On The Bridge TV and Dragon Egg.

Apart from SynlakrosS, Patricia has already lent her powerful voice to a song named The Great Heresy, featured on the 2015 album Fuck Your God by Canadian Black Metal one-man army Episcopal Holocaust, sounding very different from her regular work with SynlakrosS, as Melodic Death Metal and Black Metal, despite being both part of the overall concept of extreme music, are not usually associated and have very little in common musically speaking. And, by the way, it’s amazing for The Headbanging Moose to see she has some sort of connection with Canada. In addition to that, she’s also more-than-ready to join Spanish Melodic Thrash Metal band Keldark as a guest vocalist on the song Fear the Fear, which will be part of their upcoming album The Brotherhood, to be released later this year.

Patricia’s main influences in music might sound very different from one another, but if you pay good attention to the details of each one of her favorite artists you’ll see her own voice is some sort of amalgamation of all their styles with her own personal twist. Among her biggest influences, we’ll find names such as Floor Jansen (After Forever, Nightwish), Dani Filth (Cradle of Filth), Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Anders Friden (In Flames), Dez Fafara (DevilDriver, Coal Chamber), Jonathan Davis (Korn), Sandra Nasic (Guano Apes), Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil) and Liv Kristine (Theatre of Tragedy, Leaves’ Eyes), and their respective bands, as well as other bands like Nobuo Uematsu, Koji Kondo and Dream Theater. For instance, the first album she bought with her own money was the classic Fallen, by Evanescence, and the first concert she’s ever attended as a fan was In Flames. In one of her interviews, Patricia made sure she explained a little about her main influences, saying she never listened to them singing just as men or women, she focused on the voice itself and enjoyed every part from their performances.

She’s also influenced and inspired by a ton of other non-music stuff, including books, videogames, films, anime and manga, with her favorite movie being The Matrix, her favorite book being Clive Barker’s 1988 horror novel Cabal, and her favorite writers being Edgar Allan Poe, E. T. A. Hoffmann, H. P. Lovecraft and Mary Shelley, among others, all present not only in her music but also in her stunning looks. In addition, Patricia mentioned in one of her interviews that her personal visual trademark is also highly influenced by the fact that she’s a woman proud of being in Heavy Metal (and proud of being a woman, of course), and she wants people to see that when looking at her. That’s also visible in her hair style, always showcasing unique, vibrant colors by Manic Panic España, the iconic hair coloring company that works with 100% vegan dyes with zero ammonia, such as Siren’s Song and Psychedelic Sunset, two of her favorite colors.

Regarding her live performances with SynlakrosS, as aforementioned they had the pleasure of opening for Canadian metallers The Agonist during their Spanish dates in Sevilla, Madrid and Bilbao in 2016, but they’ve also played in several other locations in Spain like Avilés, Barcelona, Valencia, A Coruña, and so on. However, Patricia wants the music by SynlakrosS to reach new heights, allowing them to play all over Europe as well as in many other parts of the world. In order to provide the audience the best experience possible with the music by SynlakrosS, Patricia said she not only does a series of vocals warm-ups, just like any other vocalist, but she also works on all types of physical warm-ups and stretching, as she’s a very dynamic musician with a flammable stage performance.

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When asked about the metal scene in Spain, Patricia believes that, although Spanish Metal is underrated, the only thing musicians and bands like SynlakrosS can do to change this situation is to work hard, creating high-quality music and touring as much as possible until people see the true value of their music, as well as understand the importance of learning English, as in Spain that’s their pending subject. In addition, she mentioned that the support underground bands have from the media is almost nonexistent, as big magazines and radio stations only talk about international (and sometimes national) big old bands, also saying that unfortunately if you’re a small band and you want promotion, you have to pay for it no matter how amazing and well-done your music is. When specifically asked about the Valencian Metal scene, Patricia said that although they have some amazing bands in the region, the scene is not a popular one. In her opinion, bands and metalheads in Valencia aren’t united and there’s some sort of competition between them. Lastly, when asked where the music style by SynlakrosS is more accepted, if it’s in the north or south of Spain, she said the reception from metal fans has always been great in both regions, mentioning cities like Bilbao and the whole region of Galicia as good examples of places where their experience was very positive in the north, and Seville in the south as having a very warmth and welcome attitude from the fans towards the band.

One topic that’s always discussed in heavy music is the growing presence and importance of women in heavy music, and of course Patricia has been doing her part in opening more space for women in a style usually dominated by men. She thinks that, although most women in metal are vocalists, there are more and more excellent female guitarists, bassists, drummers and other instrumentalists appearing in the scene every single day, all linked to the increasing interest of the society for metal music. However, one of the biggest problems for her is that, no matter how talented a female musician might be, there’s always an unsuitable question or comment from a sexist male fan directed to that female artist, such as “take off your shirt!” or “do you have a boyfriend?”, things that are completely off topic and add nothing to the music being presented. Even when she’s facing that type of situation, she keeps the atmosphere light by saying that when a man screams she’s beautiful, it’s because he hasn’t seen her at 8am with no makeup. That’s a very polite way to say “fuck off” to those inconvenient guys, don’t you think?

Patricia also said that instead of pointless questions like that, she would love to be asked why she became a vegan and why she doesn’t drink or smoke. She said that becoming a vegan was a spiritual change for her, while stopping drinking, smoking and using drugs started when she decided to focus on her voice and on being more professional as a musician. She said there was a case in her family where a person had issues with drugs, and that made her think about it, that it wasn’t what she wanted for her life. Regarding alcohol, she said no one in the band drinks before going out or playing live, being an example to other metalheads that you can still be crazy and have a great time without being drunk or high.

If you’re already a fan of SynlakrosS, what I’m about to say won’t be a surprise to you, but if you’re a newcomer to their world of Alternative Metal I’m sure you’ll be impressed by the fact that Patricia is a professional illustrator and designer, having graduated from EASD Valencia (or Escola d’Art i Superior de Disseny de València) in 2009 in Fashion Design, and doing merch for different metal bands and her own art with manga style with macabre, Gothic and fantastic inspiration. She’s, for instance, the designer responsible for all the graphic art found in SynlakrosS’ 2016 album Death Bullets for a Forajido, including the cover art, inspired by the Wild West concept mixed with the band’s metal essence. You can check a few pieces designed by Patricia on her own DeviantArt page, such as this amazing “Demon Girl”, and who knows, maybe if you have a band she can be the next artist to provide her lines and colors to represent your music.

Last but not least, it doesn’t matter if you understand Spanish or not, there are several interviews on YouTube with Patricia and the other guys from SynlakrosS where they talk about the band’s current status and future plans, their inspirations in music, the metal scene in Valencia and in Spain in general, the evolution of women in metal, among other topics. You can check for example the videos Keep Calm And Listen Synlakross con Entrevista!, 2 Rockeros Entrevista con SynlakrosS, and Tertulia con Synlakross, all showing a very relaxed and uncompromised side of the band, and all a good inspiration for lovers of rebellious and electrifying metal to learn one of the most important languages worldwide. In other words, wouldn’t you love to understand what the charming and skillful Patricia has to say about all kinds of topics?

Patricia Pons’ Official Facebook page
Patricia Pons’ Official Twitter
Patricia Pons’ Official Instagram
SynlakrosS’ Official Facebook page
SynlakrosS’ Official YouTube channel
SynlakrosS’ Official Instagram
SynlakrosS’ Official SoundCloud page

“In Spain, if you want promotion, in general, you have to pay, no matter how amazing and well done is your music.” – Patricia Pons