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City of Souls – Synæsthesia

Review by Dave Borgioli-Jones
City of souls – Synæsthesia

Where to begin… heavy, powerful, beautiful, and straight up majestic in places, the debut album from CITY OF SOULS is everything you would expect and then some, from a band that’s essentially a New Zealand rock supergroup.

‘Synæsthesia’ is the result of each member bringing the best of their craft with them to create a recording that perfectly balances the heavy and the melodic. Enlisting Forrester Savell (KARNIVOOL, ANIMALS AS LEADERS, SHIHAD, SIKTH) for production, engineering and mixing duties, this album is a sonically captivating journey clocking in at over an hour and the best part, not a second of it is filler.

While CITY OF SOULS has a completely different line-up to Richie’s former band NEW WAY HOME, his vocal work here takes me back to the ‘Mirrors’ album at times. The soundscapes and production are almost like a new chapter for that band, with tracks like Whispers reminding me of Autumn off ‘Mirrors’. The bass chops at the start of Whispers also scream KARNIVOOL Simple Boy and I love it.

Cruelty’s opening synths are a nod towards DEVIN TOWNSEND – as may be the album’s title. The guitars are lightly tinged MESHUGGAH but they quickly relent to something more dreamy and post-rock-esque as the chorus comes in. Shimmer‘s chug is complimented by layers of keys and melodic guitars. Meanwhile the vocals on that track hit both ends of the spectrum from the deeply melodic to more guttural bellows like those of KILLING JOKE’s Jaz Coleman.

Heavy, melodic, and ambient – it’s the trifecta that will always win this reviewer over and ‘Synæsthesia’ ticks all the boxes. CITY OF SOULS have carved out their own sound with an album that’s well deserving of international acclaim. Fingers crossed they can get out there to tour it soon!