Monday, 9 February 2015

Sylosis - Dormant Heart (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 23/1/2015
Label: Nuclear Blast

‘Dormant Heart’ CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Where The Wolves Come To Die  2:55
2. Victims and Pawns  5:00
3. Dormant Heart  5:14
4. To Build A Tomb  4:21
5. Overthrown  4:08
6. Leech  5:01
7. Servitude  4:02
8. Indoctrinated  4:40
9. Harm  4:55
10. Mercy  4:51
11. Callous Souls  5:01
12. Quiescent  9:02

Sylosis on this record are

Josh Middleton | vocals, guitars
Alex Bailey | guitars
Carl Parnell | bass
Ali Richardson | drums
Rob Callard | drums (on this record)


Sylosis are the kind of band I have seen in the mainstream metal press (or on the magazine cover, at least) but have never taken interest in or heard. The reasons for this? I have no idea. I assumed that they were metalcore/some other modern bastardisation of metal that I was not really interested in. To set the record straight right off the bat: this is metal. It is metal in the modern sense, huge and powerful production and mixes lots of genres together; thrash, death, doom, Machine Head-esque modern metal and even the NWOAHM sounds of God Forbid and Lamb of God. There are solos, there are thrash sections, there are slower tracks, all wrapped up in the kind of production that would have been UNTHINKABLE for a metal band from England to have attained 15 years ago. It really does demonstrate how making records has changed since 2000.

‘Where The Wolves Come to Die’ is a slow burner of an opener, heavy and menacing in the right measure.  Victims and Pawns’ is thrashy and brutal- cracking solo as well (in the modern style)
‘Dormant Heart’ makes for a fine title track- Fear Factory inspired riffing and stop-on-a-dime dynamics- this really is exemplary modern metal. There are Maiden elements to the guitar work, but with thrashing speed. The drums are pro-toolsy and suit the music well- they are played with precision and speed (lovely tom sound, too). Rob Callard puts in his last performance on drums for the band. He should be proud of what he achieved here. I am not usually a fan of very bright production, but the genre of metal must move forward if it wants to survive and progress; bands like Sylosis are doing this. They provide a modern technology savvy take on the genre and bring dexterity and light and shade to the music.

‘To Build a Tomb’ has an excellent trad-metal guitar opening, then is all brutality before a bridge of black metal-esque melody and then back into the fray. The trad-metal vibe continues elsewhere in the track and works superbly. Some truly punishing riffs help out as well. ‘Overthrown’ is a thrashing number with time changes and no small amount of melody. Honestly, I think most metal fans of most genres would find something to enjoy here. There are clean vocals on this one in the soaring manner of Shadows Fall et al, which is not really my thing... but, dammit, the band are trying things and adding variety to the album.

‘Leech’ takes the album to and over the half way mark and incorporates a nice build up section to a time change and immediate verse. The melodies are strong on this track and quite melancholy in some places- reminding me, oddly of 70's era Priest. Strange, but true! ‘Servitude’ is a groove based affair- slower and head nod inducing. It's heavy, for sure, but without mindless repetition. The songs are thought out and have lots of changes to keep things interesting. Check out the middle thrash section for proof.

‘Indoctrinated’ starts with a clean intro but then gets very heavy indeed. For my money, it is the heaviest track on the album and is well placed at this particular juncture as it provides an adrenaline shot of righteous fury prior to the album's final four tracks. ‘Harm’ is positively laid back in comparison but still provides soaring solos a good rolling bass drum groove for the verses too.

‘Mercy’ starts strongly; again there is lots of variety on show here. On this album's showing, Sylosis remind me a little of Mastodon in that they draw things from a lot of places to sound quite unique. Sylosis are a more straightforward proposition- but they still have variety in riffs, vocals and rhythms like their American counterparts. The track reveals itself to be one of the record's best. Great riffs.

‘Callous Souls’ is heads down thrash with pit-ready breakdowns and changes. An interesting point to note is that all the tracks come in around four to five minutes in length (or thereabouts)- this shows a band who know their preferred structures and craft their music to fit uniform song writing approaches and so on- a thought out approach, in other words, and it stands them in good stead.
‘Quiescent’ bucks this approach with clean guitars, creepy atmospherics, clean sung vocals and a wholly different approach to sound and content as compared to rest of the record. Sylosis thus invite comparisons to bands such as Iron Maiden, Machine Head and Mastodon- all bands who have finished with an epic closer on strong albums. The comparisons, I have to say, would not be inaccurate. This is, by any definition or sub genre, an excellent modern metal album of the highest quality.

Words by: Richard Maw

‘Dormant Heart’ is out now

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