B-Mac Chat with Aaron Nordstrom of Gemini Syndrome
Many bands can feel the pressure that comes when making their second record. If a group’s first album is critically acclaimed and well-liked by the audience, then the next one has to be up to par or even better than the last one. At times of its release, the second record can be just as powerful or it can reduce the band to being known as a one trick pony. Fortunately for the alternative metal masters Gemini Syndrome, such a challenge was welcoming. Hailing from Los Angeles, Calif., this astonishing band put together a sophomore release titled Memento Mori that is exceptional. Following their well-received debut Lux, Gemini Syndrome has created a record that has surpassed its predecessor in every sense.
Led by frontman/vocalist Aaron Nordstrom, he and his band bring to their "Synners" (fans of the group) an album that captures everything Gemini Syndrome sets out to be. Memento Mori marks the second album of the trilogy focusing on stages of life. While Lux looks at the concept of birth, this album focuses on the concept of the life journey. The next record will focus on the concept of death. This album marks the debut of their new guitar players: Daniel Sahagún and Charles Lee Salvaggio. Taking the place of founding guitarists Mike Salerno and Rich Juzwick, I find that not only are Salvaggio & Sahagún are suitable replacements, but they can take Gemini Syndrome to new heights.
The lyrics on some of these songs really spoke to me. Nordstrom is a master at inscribing words that can touch a person’s soul. He put more emotion and passion into this project. Listening to these tracks, it is evident that his songwriting has evolved and gotten better. Examples of the elevated songwriting skills show in “Remember We Die” (which means to simply enjoy life for its too short) and “Zealot” (which is about religion and a person’s belief system). My favorite track is “Gravedigger”; however, as the song deals with a person’s struggle with his/her own demons and how to overcome them. Both Sahagún and Salvaggio provide a riff that is haunting to an otherwise positive song. Bassist Alessandro "AP" Paveri is a monster who is thunderous on this record, especially on “Gravedigger.” Plus, drummer Brian Steele Medina is a beast behind the kit, playing beats that give the songs their edge.
Nordstrom’s voice has really matured on Memento Mori compared to Lux. While he does still provide the occasional scream, he’s much more melodic with a cleaner sound. A great example of that can be found on “Alive Inside,” where he is both harmonious on the verses and chorus, but lets out the intensity during the bridge. When he sings, you can hear and feel the pain in his voice. He wants us to feel the darkness so we can embrace the light in his messages. Another favorite is the first track of the record, “Anonymous.” It is so eerie because it is inspired by the Paris attacks and San Bernardino shootings; Nordstrom just had to tell the world how he felt that day and how it is ridiculous that the shooters killed people that were anonymous to them. I dig this track.
Overall, I think Nordstrom and his gang are the answer for the next generation for progressive metal bands. Memento Mori is a stellar album that speaks so much volume and they include tragic events that have happened, spinning them into a helpful meaning. The ferociousness of this album is unbelievable; it is one of the best concept records I have heard in a while. It does not have a whole lot of flashy guitar solos, which may have made the record even better, but the absence of them makes it stronger. If Gemini Syndrome sounds this good on record, I cannot wait to see how they do live. It is an outstanding album to own. To Gemini Syndrome, I salute you. Horns Up!!! 9/10