REVIEW: Concealed Reality – Synapses [EP/2017]

Artist: Concealed Reality 

Album: Synapses – EP 


With every innocuous thought and movement, our brains are ablaze with neural activity. From the twitching, lightning-fast saccades made by our eyes to capture movement in the periphery of our vision, to the daunting task of hippocampally-mediated retrieval of long-term memories—and the amygdalar sting of those memories related to loved ones we’ve lost (or who have lost us)–our heads are a lightshow of neural activity. Each one of these use hundreds-if-not-thousands of connections mere microns in length between neurons. 

These are called Synapses, and they, like our minds—and like us—are in a constant state of flux. 

This immense energy and capacity for broad-spectrum emotion and feeling are excellently captured in the emotionally-charged, energetic and aggressive EP by Concealed Reality; a band whose hum-drum name is simple a misnomer for how ferocious and relentless they truly are. A combination of crushing grooves, eerie moments of atmosphere, heart-felt lyrics and horrendously heavy breakdowns, Synapses is as diverse and technically intricate as the inner workings of the brain itself—making it a fun, raunchy and rambunctious listen from front to back and all over again. 

Instrumentally, Concealed Reality are not nearly as tactful as their name might imply. While there are moments of scant ethereality, much of Synapses is electrifying and intense, loaded to the rafters with ruthless aggression and technicality both. Songs like the booming introduction, “Abiogenesis,” are evidence of this—as percussionist Jonathan Dils lights up the listener’s head with erratic patterns and pummeling, fleetly-footed kick drum segments that bounce between bombastic brutality and bouncy groove. This continues throughout the gloom-tinged track “Man’s Grief,” and the riveting “Oblivion.” While Synapses might be short when it comes to veritable content, Dils’ drumming makes up for it, using every second he plays to allow for a firm, furious foundation atop which bassist Frederik Bronckers can roam, adding heft and depth to the crater-creating breakdowns and earth-splitting grooves that Dils’ drops. Bronckers—while not necessarily a sonic powerhouse—serves a crucial role in the structure of Synapses, adding plenty of beef to even out the topsy-turvy, tedious and technical segments. All of this is a stomping ground for the immolating, furiously fretted leads and lacerating, skin-peeling segments slathered in groove that guitarist Bertolino Zackia proves aplenty. Zackia’s occasionally zany abilities add an intelligent, perspective twist on songs like “Man’s Grief,” where his work helps put you inside a manic, depraved state of mind implied by DIls’ driven drumming. During other times, Zackia takes it easy—ebbing and flowing with subtlety to transition into the next uproarious display of power. Such is Synapses—an electrifying, bright sequence of blindingly brutal tracks linked by transitions to help them go down smoothly; even if, at times, they still find themselves rough around the edges. 

With a dynamic and fluid instrumental canvas to work from, the vocals that define Concealed Reality’s Synapses bear the brunt of the emotional storytelling that makes the record so engaging. Fortunately, frontman James Barbosa is up to the task and then some, using a variety of belted, burly bellows and shrill screams to bring a very organic and intense perspective to the EP. “Abiogenesis” kicks this off in excellent fashion—but truly each song Barbosa yells on adds something new to his arsenal. However talented an intense Barbosa is, there are portions where he strays a little too far out there—using odd, whispered tones in certain tracks where there’s a relative break in the musical maelstrom; while what he and Concealed Reality are going for is obvious, it just misses its mark, feeling a little more corny than creative and eerie. These are rare occurrences, however, as a vast majority of the band’s monstrous vocal talent—spearheaded by Barbosa—is excellent and nothing less. 

Synapses is bound to trigger biochemical processes and cortical rearrangements abound—most of them good, maybe a little not so much—but for the most part, Concealed Reality use their debut formal release to make a markedly good impression on the listener. Heavy, groovy, catchy and ultimately invigorating with very few moments that break the listener’s focus, Synapses is just short of stellar, giving an excellent hint at what Concealed Reality might truly be capable of in the near future. 



For Fans Of: Yuth Forever, Structure, DAMNED SPRING FRAGRANTIA 

By: Connor Welsh