Did Goss dig her own grave with the all star release of "Beware The Heavens"? Because that's what this album really tells, doesn't it? Sure it'd be cool if "To Hell And Back" turns out to be great addition to any Metal-collection (which I'm not commenting on just yet), but that's not what most people are concerned with. Come on, admit it; you want to find out if SINERGY bombed out, now that the mighty Strömblad, D'Angelo, and Nordström are no longer among its ranks! You want to know if their fate has been sealed, and if they'll be forced to undertake peddling this album as coffee mug coasters!
Well, I'll spare you the suspense (or the trouble of scrolling down to check out the score - cheater!). "To Hell and Back" doesn't suck, but it has to be said that whatever it was (be it the production or song writing produced by the former three members) that made BTH the great album that it was, is of course not to be found on THAB. That brings it down a notch in comparison.
I will say this. THAB has balls. Not only am I referring to the made-to-air guitar-along-with songs that are the driving force behind this album, or the two under Kim's shirt, (Hahah, OK, that was low, and I apologize) but for SINERGY to come back to the inevitable frowning and displeasure of fans and critics alike, that takes guts. You've got to hand it to them for that.
On to the album. After cringing along with the intro to "The Bitch Is Back" it's all smooth sailing (sort of). Kimberly's vocals have made obvious progression through touring. Her voice ebbs with confidence and pride, and speaking of which, she even pulls off a cool Mustaine-approach on "Return To The Fourth World". The guitar work, I'm pleased to note, sounds fresh, and aside from the solos, there aren't many traces of CHILDREN OF BODOM, Alexi's other full time project. As I've indicated, the musical structure of the album is all around up-tempo from that of BTH, which may be a plus in the opinion of some fans.
Hmmm… to say that this album is all good would be… false. First, the production is not up to par. Kippo and Co. may be good for Bodom, but SINERGY needs Captain N back at the helm. Aside from the axes, everything sounds like it's left hollow and flat in left field, even the vocals at times. I know that I said this album had balls, yet there are a few points on here that cross over the area of confidence, and into the just plain cocky zone. To me, that is annoying. There was a subtle humbleness about the old SINERGY that I miss.
I guess that says it. In order to review this new SINERGY, we must compare it to the old. So, while this is an OK album, it is OH so pale in comparison to the power and majesty that was "Beware The Heavens". On its own, this album would have gotten a 7.5, but when I compare it to what it could have been… I think that as good as "To Hell And Back" might be, it's only fair to warn the fans who expect another masterpiece.