Nuclear Blast Records/Universal Music Australia
Reviewed By Luke Saunders
UK thrashers hit their straps on inspired 4th opus
A couple of years back I wrote a rather conflicted review about Monolith, the third album from British thrashers Sylosis. Basically the band’s frenetic blend of progressively tinged modern thrash with metalcore undertones featured tons of potential and a fair share of scintillating moments. Unfortunately the album’s strengths were awkwardly balanced by questionable experimentation, strange ambient detours, and an altogether bloated length stretching past the 70-minute mark. Yet despite Monolith’s frustrating points Sylosis dangled the carrot long enough to keep me interested in their potentially very bright future. So how does fourth album Dormant Heart stack up?
The short answer is, pretty damn well. While they may have taken a few albums to realise their considerable potential and nail down a balanced formula that works in their favour, Dormant Heart finds Sylosis firing on all cylinders. Dormant Heart is a musically varied, adventurous and confident outing that reflects the band’s significant growth as musicians and songwriters. Aggressive riff-driven modern thrash bookends the album, with Sylosis frequently mixing things up, pushing their technical and progressive tendencies forward and thankfully not overdoing their experimental dabbling and atmospheric excursions. The metalcore influence is less prominent but far more viciously executed than the majority of cookie cutter modern acts plying the often maligned style, lending a toughened groove-based edge to the album.
The musicianship is top shelf and the album is adorned with dark and catchy riffs, snaking guitar melodies and some seriously impressive shredding from Josh Middleton and Alex Bailey. Not to be outdone, Rob Callard’s aggressive drumming lends the album its highly creative rhythmic pulse. Beyond the technical proficiency on display, the song-writing is more consistent and focussed than anything featured on the band’s prior albums. Dormant Heart finds Sylosis slightly reigning in their ambitious flair for a more concise and fully fleshed collection. The songs aren’t overly choppy, with the core elements of their sound never far from the surface, while plenty of attention is put into writing songs that are musically complex but also memorable and easy to digest.
“Where the Wolves Come to Die” begins the album in a measured fashion, as dark chugging riffs circle around an engaging central melody, setting the scene for the raging thrash of “Victims and Pawns”. This track hits the afterburners immediately and delivers more than meets the eye as it develops, sporting a slower, atmospherically-tinged passage that sets up an epic finale. Built around an infectious main riff, the blazing title track thrashes with unbridled energy and aggression, while “Leech” and the excellent “To Build a Tomb” are hardcore influenced death metal stompers loaded with potent riffs and a solid mix of heft and groove. Inevitably several songs, such as the blistering attack of “Indoctrinated”, rise above the pack but overall, a few minor blemishes aside, Dormant Heart maintains a consistent high standard.
The most notable difference between Dormant Heart and Monolith mainly boils down to superior execution. Sylosis are clearly not content to be pigeon-holed as purely a thrash band, charting a more versatile and dynamic path. This time around the riffs are stronger and the compositions flow with far more cohesiveness. However, despite its undoubtable strengths and strong production values, Dormant Heart is by no means a perfect album. I still feel the band could tighten up their editing process, with song length at times being an issue while a couple of weaker tracks could have been cut for a leaner, meaner final package. Nevertheless Sylosis are heading in the right direction and Dormant Heart is overall a very well written and diverse modern metal platter that comes stacked with killer riffs, catchy songs and superb musicianship.