There comes along, once in a rare while, an album that slaps you round the back of the head, knees you in the groin and punches you square on the jaw – and leaves you with a grin like you are trying to eat a 12″ pizza in one bite.
Sylosis have just done that. ‘Cycle Of Suffering’ is a slab of excellence.
After 50 minutes of being beaten raw you lie in an exhausted heap – and ready to do it all again.
The band may have been hiatus for four years and Josh Middleton has also been working with The Architects, but that break and change of scenery must have done something – there is a ferocity in every aspect of every song.
From the off with ‘Empty Prophets’ there is a clear rage in the three-minutes of sheer adrenaline.
And, then ‘I Sever’ delivers detailed thrash construction in its purest. Better still, where before Sylosis may have succumbed to the temptation to over-play their hand, they take the progressive elements and compress them into just the right levels. After some stunning leads and melodies at three and half minutes they take the pace down, an aural pause before the coda.
It is this maturity that stands out on this release. There is a cohesiveness about the songs, the lyrics, the arrangements and the playing that marks it out as something special, with the title track a perfect exemplar.
As a unit Middleton, Conor Marshall (bass) Alex Bailey (rhythm guitar) and Ali Richardson (drums) have come together to produce something special. That most recent recruit, Marshall, is so in sync with Richardson lends detail and dimension to each song.
That Sylosis has not fallen into the trap of trying to incorporate new-ish trends in metal benefits each tune. Breakdowns, nah yer all right, we’ll just chant along to the chorus of ‘Shield’. It is almost defiant of Middleton and co to just take thrash and extreme metal to wherever they want to.
Take, for example ‘Calcified’. Its declaratory passages are perfectly delivered with Richardson’s drumming almost as a punctuation and counterpoint to the musical and lyrical fury.
It is the lyrical stance of a person not at all happy with the world: Middleton admits he writes most when he is feeling down, but is better able to handle things now – and while he is handling his self it does sound like he is channelling this downbeat view of the world into each note and each word.
Such as when in ‘Invidia’ he declares that he is ‘tired of being alone’ he is speaking about that loneliness we all feel, even when loved ones are a word away. It is a song of power, progressiveness and potency crammed into almost five minutes of metal par excellence.
The same could be said about almost every track. ‘Arms Like A Noose’ lulls the listener with a brief but sinister thrash soft intro trope before tearing into a full on blast to your heart and head, occasional almost atonal notes jarring, but fitting the sentiment: “we are bound to a toxic culture”.
When he declares on ‘Devils In Their Eyes’ “When we all realise there is a choice to be made but taking life is not your choice to be make” it is impossible to not see the marriage between the anger at the state of the world and – the word is worth repeating – fury of the music.
And, then comes the sucker punch. Just as you are wedded to the extremities in word and note comes the album closer, ‘Abandon’. Brooding brilliance, shredding emotions, picking words to contemplate on for an eternity, carefully choosing each musical intonation. A masterpiece , made with that cruellest of juxtapositions, misery tinged with a little hope. And, honest self-realisation: “sleep can’t come soon enough” and “I’ve let you down and I always will”.
You will need a brief lie down in a darkened room after listening to Abandon, before being drawn back to re-ignite your own fury by playing the album over and over again.
Trash? Extreme? Prog? Who fucking cares what label you chose to stick on this, none really suits because in the end it is damn fine metal. Passion in the playing, passion in Josh’s delivery, and a pent up anger exploding in every notes, in every carefully constructed rage at 21st Century shit.
Excuse us, we’re away to play ‘Cycle of Suffering’ again and look forward to their appearance on the Ronnie James Dio stage at Bloodstock.
Sylosis’ Cycle of Suffering is released on Nuclear Blast on February 7th.