Original Synth

Gregorio Franco Cover Art

5 of 5

There is a darkness to this place. A Hellhole that infects everyone. It spreads like cancer, covering everything in a sticky stain of venom ... with just a hint of nihilism.

Look closely and you will see a small child, its sex is indeterminable, but its fear is not. The child shivers. It is up against a cold steel wall.  This strange place is not unlike a cage. A silent scream is frozen in its expression and its eyes.

“HELP ME,” the child mouths.  It stares into even more darkness, looking for something or someone above it.

As if there could be a Goddess above; some sort of AI presence that could swoop down and carry the child away from the monsters lurking in the darkness.  There is none of that coming.  Hope does not exist in the dank doldrums of terror; there is only a whispered hush of how things used to be and even that is easily questioned.

Through a small bluish crack in the wall, something crawls outward, silently advancing toward the child but we are unsure of its intentions.  

Is this place the future? The past? Or is this somewhere in between? An alternate plane of existence…

…where none should be.

Whatever this twisted place is, Gregorio Franco, whose music is the driving force behind such imagined landscapes, is at the helm of this cruise ship of terror through the galaxy.  And in him we trust.

This is what plays out in my mind whenever I listen to Gregorio Franco. To be clear, I dig synthwave a whole hell of a lot. From the buzzing sounds of its retro-futurist soundscape to the neon images of cars racing toward a digitized sunset, I am there. Embrace me with your arcade goodness, I yell into the night's mist.  That does not mean; however, that I am not curious about the darker side of the scene. If the traditional electronic hums and beats from the synthwave artists are about the summer and sunnier side of the palm tree-lined highway, then Gregorio Franco’s work exists to draw us into the cracks along that stretch of sun-bound cement.

Gregorio Franco logo

Atlanta’s Gregorio Franco has, with the release of The Dark Beyond, created one hell of a headbanging soundtrack to the grisly underbelly of the synthwave scene.  This is a ferocious beast that scratches as it purrs on your lap.  It dares you to get closer.  And then it strikes.  You won't mind the bleeding, though.  

Released in July of 2017, this song cycle is pure electronic HEAVY METAL and it takes no prisoners in its slaughter of the senses. We are warned at the very beginning of this song cycle of the dark presence I mentioned in the prologue, but where this album takes us – as we journey through future wastelands and then later surviving (but do we?) nights of panic – is a revolution of terror that will not be forgotten.  The knife is sharp with this one.  

The fifteen tracks on this EPIC release are definitely not for synthwave beginners; they are complex and mighty nasty in their treatment of greasy basslines and pulverizing electronic patterns.  One listen is not unlike watching a sick and twisted robot uprising take place as humanity is gutted from the inside out.  But, like I said, newbies will cry through The Dark Beyond's constant laser fire. The electronic beats and metal-minded melodies will take those unaccustomed ears and permanently warp them, leaving all those poor listeners in a puddle of tears and shredded insides. I suspect, though, that this is the album’s objective. Considering that our first track (that warning) is followed by the onslaught of “Midnight” and then “The Prowler” there is little choice but to bow down and pay heed to the new master of the Dark Arts.


" there’s no doubt to my ears that the origins here are clearly some sick alien hybrid birthed the night John Carpenter slept with Vangelis"

Think Nine Inch Nails is heavy? Listen to the punishing basslines in “Hellbeast” and then get your ass back to school with your kiddie scrawls and skinny thought processes. There’s really nothing else out there like this album at the moment regardless of what label you want to slap it with. Franco’s release is ON FIRE with a demented energy that is bound to win you over.

Fully engaged in the storytelling process, there’s no doubt to my ears that the origins here are clearly some sick alien hybrid birthed the night John Carpenter slept with Vangelis. That is its dark scope and, not surprisingly, that is also the end result of listening to this stunning work.

Whatever barbarian that has been summoned by atmospheric tracks like “Grave of Madness” and the thunderous pulse of “The Descent” can pal around with me any day.  Be my protection. Be my guard against melee attacks and allow me audience as you rage against those who would do me harm.  This is what Gregorio Franco does for his listeners.  Imagine what he is capable of in a live setting.  Holy shit. 

Gregorio Franco logo

And, truthfully, I can’t wait to hear more. For those new to Franco’s tunes, understand this about what he creates: it is meant to be heard and experienced and SEEN live. He knows that what he’s created is a LIVING thing and, if you have ever seen him perform, he celebrates this fact with additional skullcrushing sounds.  It must be perfromed live.  There's a wicked sense of joy in what he's doing that will leave you panting and begging for more.

With slight heroics present, evident in tracks like “Time Rift” and “Fatebringer”, Gregorio Franco’s The Dark Beyond is a heavy metal-minded masterpiece of synthesized terror that just might kill you if left on repeat.

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