You get a weird feeling in your stomach when you realize a dream. That split-second when you know that you've hit paydirt; that you might have won the virtual lottery. However, you know that such feelings are mere hyperbole unless the dream is fully realized. The good thing is that this just might be the time.
Look up the word "synergy" in the dictionary. You'll find that when synergy is achieved, that the combination of individual forces has made the combined effort greater. Without one another, the outcome wouldn't be nearly as cathartic. In this case drummer Jimmy Ashbaugh, guitarist Blaine Gaiser, bassist Mike McDonald, vocalist Nick Ramey, and guitarist Tony Winters have taken it upon themselves to act as an agent of change; to become that which makes the sum greater than the whole – to become "Cynergist."
'Weight' has actually been about four years in the making. Jimmy, Tony, and Mike played together for about two and a half years as "Still Searching," keeping most of their songs and concepts when they came together with Nick, who was formerly of the band SubFiction. It was at this point that the band really started to take off. The first song that the newly formed foursome wrote together, "Phoenix," came together quickly and set a standard for the band. At this point, the four knew that something special could happen. Rhythm guitarist Blaine Gaiser was added to the mix to help fill out the sound, and playing shows to fans new and old all over the state of Indiana led the band to a basement in Indianapolis where some of these songs would be put on wax for the first time, and others would be re-imagined and reborn.
The goal was to put heart on tape: songs that people could move with and at the same time feel move within themselves. While topics such as love, loss, heartache, and rebirth have both inspired and driven poets and writers mad over the years; they're spun in a different light by Cynergist. It's not necessarily "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy sings sappy song about girl." Subject matter varies, from the smooth, lovelorn tones of "For A Lover" to the frantic, cleansing thrash of "Phoenix." Caution and regret are evident in "Danielle" – an ode to a woman who can't quite end an abusive relationship. "Here's your chance to sever your ties..."
What was once a dream has become reality for the Central Indiana set. While recording an actual, honest-to-God album was new for 4/5 of the crew, their surroundings and engineer, Andy Leigh (of Virtual Recording Studios) made the experience as painless as possible.
Bassist Mike McDonald said, "This was the most comfortable I've been recording. Andy was awesome." You could tell that the band was having some of the best times of their lives, however trying, in the recording studio.
"The four days that we recorded was the best recording and personal experience that I have had," remarked guitarist Blaine Gaiser, "this has been the best record that I have ever been involved with."
Lead guitarist Tony Winters echoed Blaine's sentiment. "I walked out feeling incredibly optimistic about this record. With Andy's help, my guitar sound became what I knew it could become."
Recording helped lead singer Nick Ramey notice that the recording sessions really brought the band together in a new way. "The relationships between all of us eased and became more conducive to us working together for a long time to come. It was a bunch of dudes really working towards a common goal and a common sound."
What really makes the album stand out above the crowd are the lyrics. They reflect positivism and empowerment. It has an element of anger, but not the kind of anger that makes you want to go out and start a fight; but rather the kind of anger that makes you want to go out make a difference, to change your life and the lives of others in a positive manner. "Letter of Letters," written during lead singer Nick's tour of Iraq, has a tone of despair and desperation, as well as a condemnation of current events. A song speaks to the fact that he's made his peace with death, as he sings that he's "waiting for the bullet that will take me home." "Soulstice" is another song with a message – that no matter the circumstances, no matter the outcome, the best thing one can do is to live your life with respect and pride. "Wherever the wind must fall, I will be there to meet it with pride...I rise with the ebb and the flow, my heart in my hand...I will let go."
The best parts of a project are truly the individual pieces that go into it. In this case, it's the individual road that each member has traveled that make the final destination even more gratifying. The music itself is evidence. Vocalist Nick Ramey brings his military experience to the table, and it is especially evident in "Letter of Letters." Drummer Jimmy Ashbaugh's excessive rock, reggae, and progressive drumming influences are evident all over the album. Bassist Mike McDonald's penchant for tasty hooks is all over "In Your Eyes", while rhythm guitarist Blaine Gaiser's signature background thrash permeates "Weight". Visions of guitar gods dance in one's head while listening to lead guitarist Tony Winters solo in "Between Us And The Wall" and "The Challenge".
'Weight' is the expulsion of everything from the last four years, but don't look for the band to sit back and beam with pride regarding this singular accomplishment. You'll find them in their practice space, tightening up this chorus, or going over this bridge. You'll find them on the road, bringing Cynergist to people who have never heard them before, and bringing back the grooves and thrash to those who have been there since the beginning. As drummer Jimmy Ashbaugh says, "We're constantly looking to the next thing. Always writing, practicing, and evolving."
Five individual brains, personalities, styles, and lives have met on common ground and that makes Cynergist and 'Weight' entirely better. It has been lifted off the shoulders of the band and into your CD players, iPods, and stereo systems. 'Weight' is a fresh outlook on life, love, loss, redemption, and the power of a positive mindset. Now it's in your hands to meet "The Challenge," to realize that "The challenge is living...to raise our voices as one."
- Kyle Degler