Sylosis - Dormant Heart
Amass with startling aggression, luscious harmonies and brute force musicianship, Sylosis come out of the blocks to build on their already rugged reputation with a truly solid album in Dormant Heart. An amalgamation of indomitable thrash, shadowy black metal atmospherics and gigantean doom, fronted by part wolf Josh Middleton, the Reading wrecking crew have gone from strength to strength with every release. From start to finish, Dormant Heart, their fourth studio offering, is a battering ram of a record that relies on nought but their own creativity and self-belief in what sounds like a band in remarkably confident form.
Each and every track is a punch to the cranium, the whole progressing with an incendiary cohesion that never lets up. There is, stylistically, a similar thread stitched throughout the album, while subtle differences give a plethora of flavours to delve into at the same time. In that sense then, it is hard to pick out a few key stand out tracks – the standard remains consistently and crippling high.
To Build A Tomb is all blast beats and no apologies with deft pinch harmonics, ravenous riffs and Middleton’s wolf side in full on, barking at the moon bombast. Mercy, one the first singles to be plucked fromDomant Heart’s blackened depths, is a mighty song. It combines everything we’ve come to know and love from the band – chaotic, circle pit-inducing thrash chugs, intricate guitar work weaving in and out of occasional black metal, dissonant-yet-melodic chord structures, all concluding in a proper doom metal stomp where they drop the entire octave and smash a whole in the ground. On Leech, the other single thus far released, drummer Ali Richardson delivers a stand out performance, giving the song a razor sharp edge, his fills like a barrage of guerrilla warfare.
Servitude, well placed in the track listing, drops the tempo for an altogether moodier affair. The chugging riffs are demonic, the occasional layered harmonies that are scattered in the moonlit, autumnal forest in which their sound draws you into with powerful musical imagery are piercing. Indoctrinated succeeds it, with an insidious and ominous opening passage lulling you into a false sense of security that this will be another downbeat, slightly mellower number. Like an atomic bomb though, it explodes into accelerated punk drumming and avalanching guitars. Epic.
As ever, Josh Middleton’s lead work is spectacular. He has embedded himself in a really unique style of playing of fast alternate picked runs, wailing, savaged bent notes and an ever impressive conviction. His solos light up every track, taking the songs to that next level of excellence. He is, in every sense of the word, a modern day guitar hero and his humility – posting ‘how to play’ lessons on YouTube makes his super-human playing accessible and tangible for guitarists the world over.
The feisty and menacing Callous Souls and the gorgeous, acoustic-led Quiescent then ends the album with a fistful of attitude and a baring of their soul with tremendous, spine tingling results. Touches of low end, haunting piano add dramatic twists to the latter before heart-wrenching strings add to the majesty. It is the possibly the most detached from their heavy roots they have strayed. But, they still sound recognisable, this is no mere ‘let’s write a ballad and make a fuck tonne of money’ job, this is played from the heart and for no other reason than because it is a beautiful piece of music. If by this point you were unconvinced that the band could deliver the goods, then this here shuns those doubts and replaces them with the utmost respect.
Now here comes the rant. We are in 2015, it has been 7 years since Metallica released Death Magnetic, yet they remain, almost daily, media whores talking tripe to maintain a public presence. They haven’t, as far as thrash metal is concerned, released a well-produced and ground-breaking thrash album in decades, yet still we pay them attention like monkeys playing with their own shit at the zoo. There are so many bands, Sylosis being at the forefront along with, in my mind, Revocation, more deserving of our attention and space on our iPods. So let’s turn our focus onto the next generation of bands for Sylosis have, once more, composed an exceedingly good album of the highest order. There is talent by the bucket load in this band and not just from Middleton.
If there’s any justice in this world we live in then at last this will be the year the likes of Sylosis are given the widespread critical acclaim they so thoroughly deserve.
Words: Phil Weller