The best records are like the best films. They create tangible worlds in which a story is told. And a great story is marked by asking the big questions. The ones we all sweat the most.
Consisting of sole member (songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist) Jason Pearson, Syd.31 is based in Manchester, UK, releases music under Pearson’s own Dys.13 Records label, and loosely operates under the moniker of “horror punk”, though that seems reductive. Across it’s twelve tracks, Syd.31’s vision takes us through a dynamic ride. Pitchshifter-inspired punk anthems that utilize drum and bass beats, powerful guitar chords, and Pearson’s inimitable scream are merely the gateway to an incredibly diverse album that unites it’s influences brilliantly with the one constant that matters: the human soul.
“Broken Blank” and “It Came to This” are full-on attack mode for the most part, but certain small detours in those tracks warn not to get comfortable if you really listen. Elsewhere, “Collapsing New Stars” marries a beat that recalls early RevCo with a new wave melody. Syd.31’s own admitted Billy Idol influence pops it’s head up beautifully here.
“Demon Night” tells the tale of a childhood “visitor” Pearson used to receive on a nightly basis at the side of his bed. The terror in the track is palpable. The song is aggressive, yet paranoid, and it’s worth noting that as someone who has had similar experiences, this writer can not listen to this song with the lights off.
One of the true gems of the album is “Imitating Art”, where we are privy to Jason’s emotive and soulful croon, and a soundscape that is every bit as devastating, icy, and existentially terrifying as the story it tells (of Pearson’s own experience being lost in freezing woods for hours). Immediately following is my other favorite track, “Disassemble Me”. The grief and subsequent depression it touches on is universal, and I was immensely affected by it.
“We Turn The Lights Out” is the album’s last proper song, and definitely scratched the same itch that early dub-inspired KMFDM tracks do for me. It’s catchy, fun, but pointed. The relaxed nature of the track belies the warning of it’s message. “(Outro) A Visitor Departs” marks the departure of that night-time visitor mentioned earlier. You can actually feel the relief in the room, as if something haunting has left.
In Syd.31’s own words, if there is a message to this brutal, eclectic, emotive, and yes, at times totally terrifying industrial metal record, it is simply to keep being human. Keep hurting. Keep loving. Keep creating. Keep healing. Our tragedies, triumphs, and ability to intuit and feel is the one thing we can never lose unless we give it away ourselves.
Check the punishing title track’s video below: