Release date: 15 October 2021 Label: Century Media
Gemini Syndrome sit comfortably in the genre of “radio-friendly” metal. Acts such as Seether, Shinedown, and even Slipknot fit this description. Solid riffs and a slower, steady drum beat drive the music, creating not a wall but a cushion of sound. Vocalist Aaron Nordstrom has a nice range, finding balance between clean, melodic vocals and something with a rougher edge. Seasoned vets of the metal scene may think that Gemini Syndrome are nothing to write home about. At this point, most are used to something harder, or are already well-acquainted with their brand. However, for someone just starting to try out metal, Gemini Syndrome is a great place to start.
Gemini Syndrome have the energy and accessibility of other bands that rose in popularity during the aughts and 2010s, but without the attached cringiness that comes with age. If anything, their time in the studio has only made them better and better. Their breakout album, Lux (2013), is an excellent offering and also boasts the show-stopping Stardust. Their sophomore release, Memento Mori (2016), is harder, tighter, and shows writing growth, both lyrically and melodically. Djent influences become more obvious, and Nordstrom’s vocals blend hard and soft beautifully. After a five-year break, Gemini Syndrome have now released 3rd Degree – The Raising, the final album in their musical trilogy.
The album slowly whirs to life with Reintegration, a previous single and a track that is as hard as it is beautifully harmonized. Nordstrom is already showing off that his five years away haven’t made him rusty. Meanwhile, drummer Brian Medina nearly steals the show with hard-hitting beats. The next track, IDK, is another previous single and scoffs at the warm-up that the previous track was. Nordstrom’s harsh vocals are at a perfect pitch, not even a moment’s pause between these and his softer moments. A brief break in the middle gives the listener time to catch their breath before the track shifts into a harder beat that continues through to a satisfactory end. Die With Me is another previous single and relies on the more traditional “radio-friendly” sound with an easier to follow rhythm and vocals that never go too hard. This is one of the most solid tracks on the album, Medina providing a slow but powerful beat while Meegs Rascón and Alessandro Paveri compete on guitar and bass for time to shine.
The next track, Baptized in Fire, changes the mood with a slower pace and an interesting series of melodies from everyone. Djent influences are prominent here as well as something dark but playful lurking underneath. The pace of the track makes it feel longer than it really is, but every second feels profound and heavy, making for a personal favorite. Children of the Sun keeps the slower pace rolling, this time mixing in an assortment of melodies and mood changes that keeps the listener on their toes. It’s a little difficult to keep up with this one, and the guitar and bass take a bit of a backseat for Nordstrom’s vocals and his work on keyboard, but it’s not a bad song. Abandoned, another previous single, then takes the floor, taking the lead-in from the previous to allow its rhythms to take even wilder turns. This track feels like a hodgepodge of other forgotten riffs and verses, and it’s a treat wondering where it will go next. Nordstrom’s vocals are harder than ever on this one, a rather impressive scream near the end held up by a swirling riff from Rascón.
Halfway through, Broken Reflection is the last previous single on the album. Compared to the last few tracks, this one is surprisingly easy to digest with a simpler rhythm and mid-range vocals. Sum Quod Eris is the true interlude, a brief instrumental that only has a few lingering notes on guitar. After this, Best of Me makes another surprising turn, this time by how peaceful and emotional it is. The drums are simple and the guitar and bass are mostly quiet, giving the stage to Nordstrom’s gorgeous harmonies. The break in the album ends once Absolution comes in, bringing life back to the party. Still not as hard as earlier tracks, this one relies heavily on Nordstrom’s mastery of melody in choruses. Behind him, Rascón and Paveri rip the song apart with competing riffs that only egg Nordstom on and make for a fantastic track that gets heavier over time.
Softness returns with Hold the Line, which is a bit disappointing compared with the taste of heaviness that the previous gave. This is a lovely track, the focus on Medina and Nordstrom, but Paveri insists on making the bass’ presense known. Where We Started From feels like the other half of Baptized in Fire, that playful darkness and djenty sound almost like a leitmotif. Played back to back, they seem to tell a whole story and are very satisfying to hear in either order. The lyrics seem to allude to this, referring to a song “just beginning” that “plays on and on and on”. The last track on the album is Fiat Lux, which is more of a narration than a song. Strange, almost mechanical sounds are played over a creepy melody while a robotic voice casually talks about an imprisoned alien as if they were guiding a tour for a school field trip. A dramatic, curious turn from the rest of the album, this track can be skipped unless you’re into the lore.
A Final Word
Gemini Syndrome somehow avoided major notoriety, adjacent to the bigger names but never making a huge name for themselves. Over time, they have become more popular, and luckily the fame hasn’t decreased the quality of their music. Nordstrom’s recognizable vocals are a signature on every song, even when dabbling with roughness in tracks like Abandoned and Absolution. 3rd Degree – The Raising is an impressive album, each song carefully crafted to create a series of diverse, distinct melodies. This release is definitely worth a listen or two, as well as the rest of Gemini Syndrome‘s humble but excellent discography.
- Aaron Nordstrom – Vocals, keyboards
- Meegs Rascón – Guitar
- Alessandro “AP” Paveri – Bass
- Brian Steele Medina – Drums, programming
- Die With Me
- Baptized in Fire
- Children of the Sun
- Broken Reflection
- Sum Quod Eris
- Best of Me
- Hold the Line
- Where We Started From
- Fiat Lux