Release Date: 7th February 2020
Record Label: Nuclear Blast
For Fans Of: Trivium, Death, The Black Dahlia Murder
There was a period when Sylosis were the hottest underground metal band around. Appearing at multiple metal festivals and putting out uncompromising records that combined traditional thrash with a modern edge, this seemed to come to an end when lead guitarist and vocalist Josh Middleton began performing with some other band by the name of Architects, eventually becoming a full time member. But now, loyal fans can put their fears to rest; Sylosis are back, and sound as strong as ever.
Cycle Of Suffering is the first output from the Reading boys in five years, and the first to feature new drummer Ali Richardson and bassist Conor Marshall (from Bleed From Within and Conjurer, respectively). With Middleton having spent most of the interim period performing with Architects, as well as being one of the main songwriters for Holy Hell, one would be forgiven for thinking the modern metalcore sound would find its way into any new Sylosis material. For better or for worse, this is a full on thrash record. Opening track ‘Empty Prophets’ bursts out of the speakers, demonstrating the band’s breakneck riffing, with Richardson’s drumming demonstrating he is more than competent to fill the shoes of former drummer Rob Callard.
Lead single ‘I Sever’ uses the old trick of opening with a slow, clean guitar intro as a means to throw off the listener from the oncoming thrash assault (see: any Metallica song with a clean intro). This is not to be interpreted as a slight against the track; Middleton’s vocals are stronger and more expressive than ever, showing just how much he has developed since assuming the mantle of lead vocals back in 2010, and the riffing strikes the perfect balance between heaviness and technical proficiency, a feat that many metal bands fail to achieve. With the intro resurfacing as the track finishes with a ‘metallic’ rearrangement, it is clear that the band are above resorting to easy tropes when it comes to their songwriting.
Whereas the previous two Sylosis albums began to display an influence of sludge metal, Cycle Of Suffering is a modern trash record through and through. The guitarists among the listeners will be struggling to keep up with the right hand rhythms displayed across the album, with a technique that would put James Hetfield to shame, and the leads and solos have a strong Chuck Schuldiner influence, particularly from Death’s later, more progressive albums. The tempo rarely relents, and even during the slower mid-tempo moments, such as on ‘Idle Hands’, the heaviness of the riffs maintain the listeners’ interest. Evidently the time away from the band has prevented Middleton from scratching his thrash metal itch, as the band are clearly having fun displaying their technical proficiency.
It is only when we get to the final track that the band deviate from their metal sound. ‘Abandon’ features clean singing extensively, appearing through the verses, accompanied by clean guitars and subdued rhythms from the drums. Acting as coda to the album (seeing as it is arguably not in keeping with the tone of the other tracks), the song provides a nice cool down after the rapid fire riffing of the previous fifty minutes.
While the riffs may not reach the levels of quality as displayed on Edge Of The Earth (let’s face it, it’s a tough order to match that album), there are no weak moments to be found on Cycle Of Suffering. The album never loses energy, and the lack of outside influence has resulted in a pure metal album, appeasing techy and heavy fans alike. Welcome back, Sylosis, we’ve missed you.
Recommended Tracks: I Sever, Idle Hands, Arms Like A Noose
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