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Synth Album Review: "After Everything" by SoundEngine

Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.

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Overall Impressions

SoundEngine’s After Everything is an enjoyable mixture of intense guitar riffs, intricately interwoven synth layers and surging power. SoundEngine explores synthscapes that are full of darkness at times and bursting with retro ‘80s energy at others, but ties them all together with superb musicianship and well-crafted audio.

One of the most successful elements of After Everything is SoundEngine’s guitar playing. He’s got real ability and he weaves melodic, emotive patterns with his flying fingers. I enjoy his attention to the different timbres and tones of the guitars that result in each track being imbued with unique feelings that suit it individually.

I find SoundEngine’s approach to combining different synth sounds quite compelling too. He draws from a richly varied palette that can generate everything from aching melancholy to surging power. After Everything combines all of these elements to explore wide ranging emotional and sonic territory in an engaging, ear-pleasing way.

There’s also good melodic writing on display here. The melodies are strong, bursting with expression and clear as SoundEngine spins them out through the music. I find myself wanting to hear them again so that I can enjoy the journey on which they take me.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

“Commence” starts off with a deep, devious synth oscillation that ripples through the track as a steady kick drum thumps and slowly spinning, ominous arpeggios whirl out in a steady flow. Twisting, minor key, medium-high synth carries a slowly evolving series of notes that extend through tightly woven arpeggios while bass oscillation adds more movement.

A breeze sweeps through the track before hard-edged, bright synth plays a mournful melody. I find SoundEngine’s crisp, powerful guitar galvanizing as it soars out in an energized, impassioned melody that’s still tinged by an emotive ache. Underneath it all the throbbing kick drum pulsates and the powerful arpeggios keep shifting.

A growling, abrasive sound opens “After Everything” as a tight, elevated synth plays a constrained note pattern while smoother, warmer sounds flow delicately in the background. I’m moved by the tentative and gentle feeling created by the warm sounds as a pained, fragile melody drifts in on a digital sounding, medium-high synth.

The guitar adds weight and power, while the drums thunder and swirling, glowing synths chime out. The kick drum heartbeat keeps up a constant pulse to underpin the track.In the distance, softly bright notes sound and a cascade of intense guitar sings out, rich with expression. The growling, active guitar line adds a slashing drive below the light, flickering chimes.

Hollow, round notes whirl out over the massive tide of guitar and drums as the arpeggios keep dancing along. The guitar roars, the drums hit hard and again the smooth glide of airier sounds is underpinned by the weight and power below it. There’s a triumphant sensation as the track crescendos. All of the sonic elements charge on before they begin to slow and churn purposefully, finally drawing to a close.

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“Hourglass” comes into being with jagged pulses of aggressive sound that slice into the track along with a quick drumbeat and open, brassy synths. The guitar’s full, round tones sings above extended, darkly triumphal notes while elevated, metallic synth sparkles. I can’t resist the dramatic energy as the lead guitar arcs upwards over the other musical elements.

There’s a break to the drumbeat and glowing synth chords that float and shift over the harsh sonic attack below them. The weight of the shadowy elements breaks into a surging, bursting line as the elevated guitar rages and the percussion hits with shattering force. The guitar rises on wings of soaring sound, crying out in painful passion, while the urgent tidal power below it holds it up before it all fades into shining silence.

Gently touching, airy synths circle while high, crystalline chimes shine to start “Inevitable. ” A heavy bass pulse begins to grow underneath the unsure feeling synths before the beat pounds in. The guitar carries a melody full of uplifting elements that cry out over the more uncomfortable, uncertain feeling synths and over the throbbing drums.

I’m attracted to the smoother, more gliding section in which the guitar rides sonic thermals like a hawk while chimes glitter like sunlight. The guitar leaps out in a wheeling, turning solo while the distant, lost feeling of the synths contrasts with it.

The beat throbs, the drums guiding the music while the guitar cascades and spins before slowing to sporadic, extended notes. The tenuous feeling synths flow before the drums charge on again and the guitar reaches higher over the battering beats before the track ends.

“Pixel Cruising” commences with a distant retro guitar riff and driving drums. The drums begin to grow in power and volume as the whole track crescendos. The driving synth bass has an addictive pulse to it as the flying lead melody cries out, exploding with dynamic propulsion, carried on a glowing synth that pours positive energy. The drums and bass push the track onwards before there’s a segment in which synths spin and intertwine above the powerful bass.

I enjoy how the guitar glides out smoothly and a round, ethereal synth with a digital flavour carries an airy note pattern. The guitar adds a catchy line that doubles with the round synth, calling out in an easily flowing pattern. Quick, shiny synth flashes cut through the driving bass before entering a slow, wandering section before a drum fill boosts the tempo as the track leaps onward to a conclusion, full of the sense of flying down the road as everything fades.

A threatened-sounding, elevated sound shifts over dark pulses of heavy bass and angular synths to open “Technocracy.” A bursting synth pattern trumpets out over the weight of the slamming drums. The rich sounding synths carry a triumphant, shadowy melody that calls out over the solidity and depth churning below it. A volleying, shining synth pattern bounces out while the drums pound.

The guitar’s open, emotive voice cries out in a solo that I savour for its yearning feeling. Trumpeting synths flash out again, majestic and heavy, while the guitar climbs. The entire track ramps up in dramatic fashion and the bass and drum heartbeat underpins a solo that hurts and dreams as it pours feeling into the track. Sparks of high sound shimmer above the other elements and the music begins to fade away into a shadowy void.

Conclusion

There’s a cohesiveness and a sense of quality that permeates After Everything. I feel that SoundEngine has reached a new level of maturity and ability on this album, compared to previous offerings that I’ve reviewed. I hope to see how he continues to refine his music in future releases.

© 2022 Karl Magi

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