(Please welcome guest writer ElizabethKristina with a review of the new album by Sylosis.)
Writing this review was my first run-in with this British quartet, so naturally, curiosity got the better of me and I read up a little on the band. The foursome hails from Reading, Berkshire in the UK. Formed back in 2000 with the intention of playing thrash and death metal, it took Sylosis eight years before they got their big break with Nuclear Blast Records to record their first album, 2008’s Conclusion of Age. Now in 2012, the band sees the release of their third full-length album, Monolith.
While the title conjures images of a large stone block floating through space, this album is nothing of the sort. Sylosis have really kept up with their original mission to play thrash, but have evolved to incorporate a more progressive sound; the classic thrash elements are definitely present throughout Monolith, but the interweaving of progressive melodies and tempos breathes new life into both styles.
The first song of the album, “Out From Below,” with its atmospheric build-up and satisfying explosion of speed and riffage, evokes an Opeth-like sound, and also sets the rest of the album up quite nicely. “Fear of the World” features some aggressive and full-sounding vocals, but also has a beautiful moment of clean-singing about three minutes in.
“Behind the Sun” was a personal favorite of mine as it brought to mind Mastodon with some of the singing and guitar work. “A Dying Vine” also features great guitar work, and the ever-shifting tempos juxtapose the softer prog with the classic thrash to maximum effect. In fact, much of the interest derived from Monolith is due to the frequent tempo changes and stylistic shifts that keep the listener on edge for the nearly hour and half of play time.
“Paradox,” at six minutes long, is much like the rest of the album, with Rob Callard holding the audience’s interest with intense drum work.
The final track is perhaps the most reminiscent of long progressive works, clocking in at around 19-minutes. “Enshrined” is the first five minutes of the track, which brings the album full circle with its ambient and epic, slow build-up into very catchy guitar work. After ten minutes of silence, the second part, a hidden track, ensues. An acoustic piece showcasing Josh Middleton’s vocals, it’s a very pretty and thought-provoking piece, lyrically – the band have made mention that the concept of the album comes from the Greek tragedy of Orpheus and Eurydice, which makes sense with the darker lyrics and personal reflection.
Overall, I love the album. There are some definite Revocation-like riffs and vocals throughout, yet the music quickly switches into the slow and seductive sound of Opeth. I love the constantly changing rhythms of the album and the points of beautiful melodies. For an album that’s an hour and a half long, it does not seem like it; Sylosis constantly keep the album moving and captivating.
One common critique of Monolith is the length of the last song, but in its defense, I love the band’s decision to include the hidden track as a part of “Enshrined” rather than breaking it into two separate songs. The hidden gem within “Enshrined” is probably one of my favorite parts of Monolith because it’s so different from the rest of the album, while still adhering to the Greek Tragedy theme.
Sylosis, without completely reinventing the thrash sound, revive it with some brilliant creative flourishes. Since their last album, Edge of the Earth, it sounds as if this band are only on the rise with their developed precision and technicality.
High Points: “Out From Below” was a great set-up to the album. “Behind the Sun” was amazing and very Mastodon-like; gotta love it! Then of course, my favorite, part two of “Enshrined.” It was just beautiful.
Low Points: Where have you been all my life?