Sonic Syndicate

Sonic Syndicate

Sonic Syndicate performing at Melkweg in Amsterdam on December 15, 2009
Background information
Also known as
  • Fallen Angels (2002–2005)
Origin Falkenberg, Sweden
Genres Metalcore,[1][2] alternative metal,[3] melodic death metal[4][5][6], pop rock
Years active 2002present
Labels Pivotal Rockordings (2005)
Nuclear Blast (2006-2016)
Despotz Records (2016-present)
Associated acts The Unguided, Faithful Darkness, Tunes of Silence, The Hollow Earth Theory, Dodge, What Tomorrow Bring], Dead by April
Members Nathan J. Biggs
Robin Sjunnesson
Michel Bärzén
Peter Wallenäs
Past members John "Runken" Bengtsson Karin Axelsson
Richard Sjunnesson
Roger Sjunnesson
Roland Johansson
Andreas Mårtensson
Kristoffer Backlund
Magnus Svensson

Sonic Syndicate is a rock band from Falkenberg, Sweden. They are influenced by Swedish melodic death metal bands such as In Flames and Soilwork and American metalcore bands like Killswitch Engage and All That Remains.[7]

The band was founded in 2002 by brothers Richard (vocals) and Roger Sjunnesson (guitars) with their younger cousin Robin Sjunnesson (guitars) under the name Fallen Angels, finally switching to Sonic Syndicate in 2004. As of today the band consists of Robin (now the only original member) alongside British singer Nathan J. Biggs, drummer John Bengtsson and bass player Michel Bärzén.


Formation and Eden Fire (2002-2006)

Before Sonic Syndicate, the brothers Richard and Roger and their cousin Robin Sjunnesson played in a heavy-metal oriented band called Tunes of Silence, which was formed in 2000, in their teens.[8] In 2002, the brothers Sjunnesson eventually decided to break away from the band in order to focus on various other aspects of music. This led to the forming of Fallen Angels in 2002 together with Andreas Mårtensson, Magnus Svensson and Kristoffer Backlund.[8] They recorded three demo albums, Fall From Heaven, Black Lotus, and Extinction before signing with Pivotal Rockordings in 2005.[9] Bassist Karin Axelsson replaced Svensson in 2004 before the band changed its name to Sonic Syndicate and released its debut studio album, Eden Fire. Eden Fire would go on to sell over 10,000 copies by the end of 2010 because of a re-release through Koch Distribution in the USA in collaboration with France's Listenable Records.

The band toured extensively throughout Sweden[10][11] in support of Eden Fire, alongside such bands as Avatar. In early February 2006, during their tour with Avatar, both drummer Kristoffer Bäcklund and keyboardist Andreas Mårtensson were asked to leave the band due to lack of interest and musical differences. Kristoffer was replaced by John Bengtsson, whilst lead guitarist Roger Sjunnesson took over on keyboards.[12] 2006 also saw the arrival of Roland Johansson as a permanent member. The band completed the tour, then began demoing new material in early March.

Only Inhuman (2006-2007)

In the summer of 2006, the band entered into a contest held by Nuclear Blast. They sent in their self-titled demo Sonic Syndicate, which included early preproduction versions of the songs "Psychic Suicide", "Blue Eyed Fiend", "Callous" and the album version of "Jailbreak". Out of over 1,500 competing bands, Sonic Syndicate was chosen as one of three winners and offered a new recording contract with the label.[13][14] In November 2006, they entered Black Lounge Studios to record their follow-up to Eden Fire with Jonas Kjellgren of Scar Symmetry.[15] The new album was titled Only Inhuman and was released on May 18, 2007. A video was made for the lead single, "Denied", with renowned producer Patric Ullaeus.

The singers of Sonic Syndicate, Richard Sjunnesson and Roland Johansson, also sang for a compilation album, called Nuclear Blast All-Stars: Out of the Dark with Soilwork guitarist Peter Wichers.[16] The band played at the 2007 Wacken Open Air Festival.[17] Sonic Syndicate played several European festivals and, in the winter of 2007, accompanied Amon Amarth as they toured stateside.[18] The band also participated in the "Darkness Over X-Mas Tour" with Caliban and Heaven Shall Burn, and toured extensively across Europe with Dark Tranquillity and Soilwork. In late November 2007, the Swedish newcomers embarked on a tour with Himsa and Amon Amarth.[19] Later in 2008, they toured with Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish.[20]

Love and Other Disasters (2008-2009)

In March 2008, the band began recording their third release in Jonas Kjellgren's Black Lounge Studios in Avesta.[21] In May 2008, Sonic Syndicate returned to North America as the opening act for Nightwish.[22] In the June 2008, the magazine Revolver named Karin Axelsson the "Hottest Chick in Metal".[23] Love and Other Disasters was released in September 2008. The first single, "Jack of Diamonds", is accompanied by a video again from Patric Ullaeus who has directed all of the band's videos.[24] Not long after, the second single "My Escape" would follow up, also accompanied by a video from Patric Ullaeus. At the end of the year, the band toured Germany and Scandinavia, and released the singles "Power Shift" and "Contradiction" directed by Marius Böttcher of Quent Film.[25]

On March 30, 2009, it was confirmed that singer Roland Johansson would quit the band because of personal reasons. A search for a replacement immediately went underway, whilst Roland stayed in the band until August 29, the day of his last show with the band at the Geuzenpop Festival in Enschede, Netherlands (five days after Nathan J. Biggs was announced as the new singer).[26]

On October 13, Roland Johansson expounded in an interview that his reason for leaving Sonic Syndicate was that he felt severe anxiety and dislike for the lifestyle that went with having to tour all around the world and not being able to spend much time with his loved ones. He also shared that he and Jesper Strömblad (formerly of In Flames) are currently working on an unnamed project, and would start recording an album in the beginning of 2010 (although as of April 2011 there has still been no sign of any material from the two).[27]

Burn This City (2009)

On August 24, 2009, British vocalist Nathan James Biggs (formerly of The Hollow Earth Theory) was announced as Roland Johansson's replacement.[28] The band has also announced that their next studio album would be released in March 2010. On September 25, Sonic Syndicate released their debut single with Nathan entitled "Burn This City" and its music video. Shortly after the single release, the band began to stream their other new track "Rebellion in Nightmareland", which was released onto the band's Myspace page.

We Rule the Night (2010–2011)

Work on the pre-production of a new album begun on January 3, 2010 under producer Toby Wright, recorded at Bohus Sound Studios in Kungälv, Sweden. On March 5, the band announced that the title for the new album would be We Rule the Night. The album was originally scheduled to be released on May 28, 2010 but was later reset to July 30, 2010. The release date was again pushed back and the album was released on August 28, 2010.[29][30]

The first single from the album is "Revolution, Baby". It appeared first on May 5 on Bandit Rock Radio and was then released to iTunes on May 7. On April 16, the video shoot for the music video took place. The director for the shoot was again director Patric Ullaeus.

On June 3, Sonic Syndicate traveled to Gothenburg, Sweden and began shooting the music video for the second single "My Own Life" with Patric Ullaeus of Revolver Film Company.[31] The single debuted on Bandit Radio on June 18, 2010 and was released as a digital single.[32] On July 1, 2010, Nuclear Blast and Guthenborg TV released the making of the music video for "My Own Life".[33]

The single "Turn It Up" was released on August 22, 2010, followed by the album We Rule the Night on August 27, 2010. During the filming of "Turn It Up", Karin Axelsson was reportedly "seriously injured." Axelsson was hit over the head with a guitar during an act of staged violence, causing a laceration and a brain concussion.[34] Axelsson later made a "brilliant" recovery.[35][36] On September 29, the video was released, but it was banned on most websites due to its graphic content and it also resulted in the deletion of their Facebook page (although they created a new one in late 2011). Eventually a censored video of the song was released.

On October 26, 2010, it was announced that Richard would take a break from touring for personal reasons and to spend time with his family; however, on October 28, Richard corrected this statement on his blog that his leave was, in fact, permanent due to creative differences. He claimed that the band's label were responsible for changing the musical direction of the band. Christoffer Andersson (from What Tomorrow Brings) filled in the remaining tour dates for Richard but did not become his permanent replacement due to other commitments.[37] Richard went on to form The Unguided with other former Sonic Syndicate members and also joined melodic death metal band Faithful Darkness for a brief period.[8]

After Andersson quit, the role was partially given to guitarist Robin.

Hiatus and new albums (2011-present)

On September 2011, Roger stated in an interview (in Swedish) that the band would be taking a break after the summer. Roger and John both focused on The Unguided, Nathan begun reviewing music for Metal Hammer, and Karin has begun to study.[38]

On May 7, 2012, the band announced on Facebook that they would get together once more to co-headline Vekeri Fesztival in Hungary on June 21–23.

It was also announced that Roger Sjunnesson was no longer a part of the band. The reasons are unknown, but Roger is still on good terms with all band members.[39] No replacement has been announced yet. In addition to this, John Bengtsson is no longer with The Unguided.

On May 5, 2013, the band announced via Twitter that the hiatus is over. They also announced that they had begun the process of recording a new album.[40] It was announced on April 25, 2014 that the new self-titled album would be released on July 4. It was also revealed that Björn Strid from Soilwork would provide guest vocals on the track, "Before You Finally Break".[41] The band released the first single off the album titled "Black Hole Halo"; the lyric video was released on Nuclear Blast's official YouTube channel on May 16. The new self-titled album was released on the 4 July 2014.

On August 7, 2015, it was announced that Karin Axelsson had left the band and would be replaced by new bassist Michel Bärzén.[42] Then a year later, it was announced that their next album, Confessions, would be released on October 14, 2016.[43]

Style and composition

Sonic Syndicate's style has changed radically over the years. Fallen Angels' demos contained no clean vocals at all and had a similar sound to early melodic death metal bands such as Dark Tranquillity and In Flames. Eden Fire featured clean vocals on some tracks as well as some occasional female vocals from bass player Karin Axelsson.

Their second album Only Inhuman had many new additions to the band's sound. Clean vocals were now a full-time feature (by this point, the band had two vocalists rather than one) and the band began to include metalcore elements into their music. It also included the band's first recorded ballad ("Enclave"). Love and Other Disasters featured less "flashy" synths (mostly strings) and mostly slower songs than before and was commercially more successful than Only Inhuman and Eden Fire.

Their 2009 EP Burn This City featured two songs. The title track was radio friendly with mostly clean vocals and synthesizers while the song "Rebellion In Nightmareland" had a somewhat similar sound to Eden Fire and Only Inhuman being very aggressive in dynamic and having both clean vocals and screams lead together.

Their fourth album We Rule the Night is a very soft album compared to all their prior releases as it includes their sound of metalcore, but also incorporates new ones to their style such as pop rock and nu metal. There is also a fair use of acoustic guitars as well as mainstream-influenced synthesizers. Clean vocals are also featured as the lead vocals compared to their previous albums were both harsh and clean vocals were leading together; on We Rule the Night, however, the harsh vocals have been mixed behind layers of distorted guitars, acoustic guitars and mainstream synthesizers, and the clean vocals were left untouched to appeal to a younger, more mainstream audience.[3]

From the beginning to Love and Other Disasters, all of Sonic Syndicate's songs were written by lead guitarist/keyboardist Roger (music) and harsh vocalist Richard Sjunnesson (lyrics) with the exception of "Enclave", where the music was written by other (rhythm) guitarist Robin Sjunnesson and clean singer Roland Johansson. Robin and Roland together wrote the music to about five songs on Love and Other Disasters, with the rest by Roger and all the lyrics as normal were written by Richard. Burn This City and We Rule The Night, however, featured a second lyricist (new singer Nathan J. Biggs) as well as Robin now composing half the music for Sonic Syndicate. This is thought to be one of many things that made We Rule the Night different from their early material.

Band members

Current members

Name Role Duration Additional information
Nathan James Biggs lead vocals 2009–present Lyricist
Former singer of The Hollow Earth Theory
Robin Sjunnesson lead guitar
backing vocals
(vocals since 2011)
Composer (since 2009)
Michel Bärzén bass 2015–present
Peter Wallenäs drums, percussion 2016–present

Former members

Name Role Duration Reason for departure and current bands
John "Runken" Bengtsson drums, percussion 2006–2016 Quit to focus on his family.
Former drummer of DØDZ & The Unguided
Karin Axelsson bass 2004-2015 Quit due to personal reasons
Roger Sjunnesson guitar
(keys since 2006)
He now performs with The Unguided
Richard Sjunnesson harsh vocals 2002–2010 Quit due to issues with musical direction.
He now performs with The Unguided
Roland Johansson clean & harsh vocals session: 2005;
full-time: 2006–2009
Quit due to issues with touring and personal life.
Now a member of The Unguided
Kristoffer Bäcklund drums, percussion 2002–2006 Asked to leave due to lack of devotion to the band.
Was later the vocalist for the band "What Tomorrow Brings"
Andreas Mårtensson keyboards 2002–2006 Asked to leave due to lack of devotion to the band.
Magnus Svensson bass guitar 2002–2004 Undisclosed.

Session members

Name Instrument Membership Reason for departure and current bands
Christoffer Andersson harsh vocals 2010–2011 Filled in for Richard Sjunnesson after his departure in 2011
Currently sings scream vocals for Dead By April after the departure of Jimmie Strimell (2013-)
Robert Sjunnesson lead guitar 2005 Performed a guest guitar solo on "Soulstone Splinter" from Eden Fire
Nick Red keyboards 2008-currently Performed keyboards on "My Escape," "Fallout" & "Contradiction" from Love and Other Disasters
Currently plays in Blowsight



Recording timeline

Role Album
Eden Fire
Only Inhuman
Love and Other Disasters
We Rule the Night
Sonic Syndicate
Vocals Richard Sjunnesson Roland Johansson & Richard Sjunnesson Nathan J. Biggs & Richard Sjunnesson Nathan J. Biggs
Guitar Roger Sjunnesson & Robin Sjunnesson Robin Sjunnesson
Bass Karin Axelsson
Keys Andreas Mårtensson Roger Sjunnesson
Drums Kristoffer Bäcklund John Bengtsson
Studio albums


Main tours

Supporting tours



In 2008, Sonic Syndicate won the award for best newcomer at the Swedish Metal Awards and at the Bandit Rock Awards.[44] Sonic Syndicate, along with Patric Ullaeus, won the award for best music video for their music video of "Burn This City" in 2010 at the Swedish Metal Awards.[45] They also nominated and won the award for "Best Swedish Group" at the Bandit Rock Awards of 2010.[46] In 2010, Sonic Syndicate was nominated for "Up and Coming!" award at the Metal Hammer Awards in Germany.[47]


  1. Bowar, Chad. "Sonic Syndicate - Only Inhuman Review". Retrieved 2012-01-04.
  2. Bowar, Chad. "Review of Love and Other Disasters by Sonic Syndicate". Retrieved 2012-01-04.
  3. 1 2 "Sonic Syndicate - We Rule The Night (staff review)". Sputnikmusic. 2010-08-27. Retrieved 2011-08-25.
  4. Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Sonic Syndicate". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
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  7. "Interview of Sonic Syndicate (Swedish Heavy-Metal band) for the "Only Inhuman" release". May 2007. Retrieved 2008-12-01. I guess the quotient of bands we jointly listened to during the time we wrote the songs was: Killswitch Engage, In Flames, Soilwork, Bullet for my Valentine, Story of the Year, and All that remains. But I mean that's just about scratching the surface of what influenced us all in creating the music we play in Sonic Syndicate.
  8. 1 2 3 "Richard Sjunnesson - What bridge to cross and what bridge to burn". Retrieved 2011-08-25.
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  10. "Sonic Syndicate: Live Dates Announced, on". Retrieved 2008-12-01.
  11. "Sonic Syndicate, Avatar, Inevitable End to Team up for Sweden United Tour, on". Retrieved 2008-12-01.
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  13. "Sonic Syndicate Only Inhuman Enters Swedish Chart at No. 22, on". Retrieved 2008-12-01.
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  17. "Enslaved, Heaven Shall Burn, Moonsorrow Confirmed for Wacken Open Air, on". Retrieved 2008-12-01.
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  19. Archived October 21, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
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  21. "Sonic Syndicate to Enter Studio Tomorrow, on". Retrieved 2008-12-01.
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  30. "The world's biggest Heavy-Metal Label, Merchandise & Mailorder - Nuclear Blast". Retrieved 2011-08-25.
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  33. "::::: Sonic Syndicate :::::". Retrieved 2011-08-25.
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  35. "SONIC SYNDICATE Bassist Seriously Injured During Video Shoot". Retrieved 2011-08-25.
  36. "BLABBERMOUTH.NET - SONIC SYNDICATE Bassist Makes 'Brilliant Recovery' After Being Injured During Video Shoot". Retrieved 2011-08-25.
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  38. "Sonic Syndicate pauser (pauses)". Retrieved 2011-09-01.
  39. Roger leaves Sonic Syndicate|url=
  40. "Sonic Syndicate update 1 2013".
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  42. PRESS RELEASE|url=
  43. "SONIC SYNDICATE To Release 'Confessions' Album In October". August 5, 2016. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
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