Philadelphia’s Sinch has been around since 1996 and released their fifth full-length this week.  Hive Mind is the band’s first album in seven years and easily their best to date.

The vastly underappreciated guitar work of Tony Lannutti is on full display in album opener “Cause and Effect,” displaying an appreciation for the likes of progressive stalwarts Tool and Coheed while still carving out a modern rock sound that harkens back the early 90’s grunge and post-rock scenes.  Jamie Stem’s signature croon and wistful ruminations seems to be a huge influence on the likes of today’s Shinedown or HURT.

“Targets on the Range” immediately puts the rhythm section of drummer Dan MacFarland and bassist Mike Abramson at the forefront in a calculated move to show that no part of this band is going to be under represented on the album.  “Vessels” is one of four sure-fire singles from the album.  This track reminds me of some of the promise I felt Kaddisfly exhibited on 2005’s Buy Our Intention… before that act went on to release a mediocre album and go on hiatus.  “All of the lives we have yet to touch/all the songs just collecting dust/all the things that we have come to believe…” This band is ready to reclaim its place in our hearts.

“Mapless,” the first “actual” single, is exactly everything we’ve come to expect of Sinch.  Gentle guitar work throughout the verses, strong modern rock choruses, and impassioned vocals.  It begs to be played full-tilt live in rock dives and clubs across the country.  “I’ve been living in the realm of possibility/now I feel it all slowly catching up to me/and I’m not sure/if I’m farther away from the answers/than I was when I started all of this.” The body dances in unison (either sitting or standing) as I rock out to this track.

“State of Affairs” is the third in a three-track string of excellence.  This track boasts the brilliance of everything on Pearl Jam’s last two albums.  It’s loose, it’s rocking — maybe even a small step away from some of the more progressive sound on the past few albums — but like I said, this is the band’s strongest album to date.  The fact that they took seven years to do this is telling: they’re not doing it for a label or anyone else other than themselves and their fans.  When artists are able to create this kind of music, it’s an absolutely brilliant and beautiful thing to see.

There are a few missteps on the album, but the vast majority is a strong stomp on the chest of anyone who feared Sinch were merely a footnote in the page of 90’s-00’s rock and roll.  “Easier Said Than Done”  is – to me – the fourth single.  It is the band firing on all cylinders, each member equally contributing to a juggernaut of a track.  Everything about the track sings – the bridges especially.

The band used a Kickstarter campaign to create this album.  I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what had happened to them after they’d fallen behind the radar and my life moved on a bit.  I had the distinction early in my music business career to meet the band when ‘Malibu Lou’ Mansdorf was a rep for Roadrunner Records and they were doing A&R with retailers.  I got to hang with the band before and after their show in upstate New York and truly appreciated not only their sound back then but their visual take on their live shows.  They were really trying to do something different.

This is both a welcome bit of nostalgia and a welcome re-boot of the Sinch franchise.  I would easily shell out some cash to see them play my neck of the woods again and would gladly promote the show in our area.  Hope to see these fellows cross paths with me again.

Grade: A

Check out the album below:

http://soundcloud.com/sinchband/sets/hive-mind

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