Svengali - Sayonara | Album Review

With members hailing from India, Iraq, Iran and Lebanon, Dubai based Metal quartet Svengali are the very definition of multi-cultural. Each member brings their own unique musical influences to the table and from that melting pot comes the new album Sayonara.

Serving as the follow up to 2015’s Theory Of Mind the band describe the album as “a representation of the last five years of our lives – which spans from being homeless and living in a car in one of the most expensive cities in the world, to building our own studio and recording the album independently.”

The first thing that you notice about Sayonara is that it feels real and it feels authentic. These are four guys who have struggled to be where they are today, and that sentiment underpins the whole album.

Straight from track one ‘Alcatraz’ the band make their intentions known. You’re not going to just hear this record you’re going to feel it in your damn bones. This track fires out of the gate, with a mixture of pure aggression and frantic guitar work, all smoothed out through a soaring chorus. This blending of hard as nails riffs and screams with clean towering hooks is a key component of the album and one the band enjoy utilising.

Thankfully the hard-hitting action slows with the arrival of ‘Better Off,’ the clean vocals is achingly emotive as the band head more into straight rock ballad territory. It’s quite the switch from the chaos which came before, but it’s pulled off effortlessly. Sometimes bands get lost in making heavy track after heavy track, but for an album to truly flow and be one enjoyable piece of work it needs balance. Pretty much all of the great Rock and Metal albums through history have done this, and it’s something that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Lead single ‘Freight Train’ opens with a classic Metal riff and then proceeds to demonstrate that when they really hit top form, these guys are a force to be reckoned with. The big chorus hits all the right notes, the riffs thunder and you can feel the drums in your chest. You can’t ask for much more than that. And just as you’re basking in that euphoria the title track hurtles into view and remorselessly runs you down. It is simply a brute of track, there’s no two ways about it.

‘Quicksand’ and ‘Shedding Skin’ are both solid if unspectacular, while closing track ‘Labyrinth’ is only brought down by a terrible ending. There’s no finesse, no grand finale, it just fades out. It’s so lazy and ends the album on a really flat note.

The important thing to note about Sayonara is that there really are no weak tracks on the entire record. However, on the flip side to that, there’s nothing that will make you lose your mind either. That track that has you turning up the volume, hitting up your mates, throwing yourself at social media to tell the world how good it is. Every song is a solid seven out of ten, and while that obviously makes it a good album, it also means that it does have a glass ceiling.

Svengali have come through some serious obstacles and had to claw for everything they have, so to stand here today having produced this album is a testament to not only their determination but talent as a band.

Next up, smash that glass ceiling.

Score: 7/10

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