The first time I listened to Sylosis I wasn’t sure that I would like them considering I hadn’t heard much about them. Upon giving them a chance, however, I was truly impressed by their potential. Their two albums were each solid in their own way. Conclusion of an Age (2008) was more on the metalcore spectrum with only hints of thrash and melodic death metal scattered throughout the album. With their follow up Edge of the Earth (2011) they matured their sound, focusing more on thrash, melodic, and death metal elements with aspects of progressiveness mixed in there. Their latest endeavor Monolith (2012) follows perfectly what Sylosis began to do in Edge of the Earth and showcases why they may be the future in metal.
Sylosis was first formed back in 2000 in the town of Reading, Berkshire, England by original member Josh Middleton. When the band first began the members were still all in school and were kids just looking to play some metal. They had the opportunity to play gigs here and there but it was mostly sporadic due to the fact that the member were unable to drive, had academic responsibilities, and the underground metal scene wasn’t exactly thriving. Due to this they had various lineup changes even early on in the band’s career. The most current lineup consists of Josh Middleton on lead guitar and lead vocals, Alex Bailey on rhythm guitar, Carl Parnell on bass guitar, and Rob Callard on drums. Middleton originally only played lead guitar but took over vocals in May of 2010 when then singer Jamie Graham left the band.
Sylosis released a couple of EP’s in the United Kingdom on indie label “In at the Deep Records” before being signed to Nuclear Blast in December of 2007. Through Nuclear Blast they released their debut album Conclusion of an Age (2008) and three years later released Edge of the Earth (2011). Releasing a third album only a year after releasing their second would make one think that said album would probably be lackluster at best. Listening to Monolith (2012) the past couple of weeks, however, has shown that this is far from the case with Sylosis’s latest undertaking.
Monolith is an album that takes the best elements of thrash, melodic death metal, and progressive and infuses them into a masterpiece. The whole album has an ambient feeling that is created by the band’s good use of low and dark atmospheric undertones. This might be due to the fact that Monolith is an album that is loosely based on the tale of “Orpheus and Eurydice” in Greek Mythology, a story that dwells into the dark side of human nature and invariably is translated into the songs on the album. The opening track “Out From Below” sets the stage for the songs that are to follow. It is a song that starts off slowly and gritty, quickly breaking into a fast paced thrashy riff combined with melodic death metal elements. The guitars played by Middleton and Bailey on this album are one of my most favorite elements of Monolith, they do wonderful job in leading each of the songs into whichever direction they want. The drums and bass follow their lead beautifully, pumping out hard and heavy beats when appropriate to do so and holding back when Middleton and Bailey decide to slow things a bit. Tying up the whole ensemble brilliantly is Middleton’s work on vocals. His skill in being able to bust out low melodic death growls one second and then turn around and sing haunting smooth clean vocals made me fall in love with his voice even more. He is as gifted a guitarist as he is a vocalist.
There is not one song on this album that I could consider just good or decent, every single song on this album had a lot of work put into it and it clearly shows. Songs like “Fear the World,””Behind the Sun,” or “Enshrined” capture the perfect essence of what Sylosis as a band has come to be. The title track “Monolith” is a dark but fast and moody track that is almost sensual in a way when you listen to it, the kind of track you’d like to be listening to while procreating with someone, if you get my drift. Songs like “A Dying Vine” and “Born Anew” are fast paced songs with chunky guitar riffs jumping into fast paced solos and quickly coming back down to slow chunky and heavy riffs. Perhaps the crème de la crème on this album is the closing track “Enshrined.” It starts off slowly but the guitars quickly jump into action and begin once again driving this heavy and energetic ending. It is actually split into two parts, with the second part beginning about 5 minutes after the first part ends. The second part is a crooning metal ballad that doesn’t get cheesy in any way. Middleton’s abilities in his vocals are perhaps best exemplified on this song, the way he can go from screaming and growling to singing in such a smooth and mesmerizing voice. I can honestly say I’m in love with his voice and his skills as a musician after this album. Although the whole album from beginning to end it runs about an hour and ten minutes by the time you are done listening to the whole thing it really does not seem like so much time has passed, in fact you’re left wanting more.
Overall, Monolith showcases the talent and skills that makes Sylosis who they are. They are gifted musicians and it shows lucidly in this latest album. I have not stopped listening to it since I got my hands on it, it still raises the hair on my neck every time I listen to it. I do hope Sylosis begins to garner more of the attention that they deserve, they are an amazingly talented band but much too underrated. I’m excited to be seeing them at the end of the month with Lamb of God, In Flames, and Hatebreed on the first date of the tour starting here in Arizona and am sure they will be picking up some fans along the way. It will be my first time seeing the band and I honestly could not be more excited for it.
1. Out From Below 6:58
2. Fear the World 5:20
3. What Dwells Within 5:02
4. Behind the Sun 5:01
5. The River 5:33
6. Monolith 5:02
7. Paradox 6:08
8. A Dying Vine 5:57
9. All is not Well 4:29
10. Born Anew 3:48
11. Enshrined 19:16