There were some who doubted the return of Sylosis would ever happen with frontman and guitarist Josh Middleton now firmly in Architects following the tragic passing of Tom Searle. It’s been five years since their last album “Dormant Heart” and in truth the bands World turned upside down when they showed the now former Heart of a Coward vocalist Jamie Graham the door. He’s now in Viscera as well as working for Unique Leader Records, but that’s another subject entirely. Josh Middleton handles vocals and guitars and is joined by rhythm guitarist Alex Bailey and drummer Ali Richardson (an integral part of Bleed From Within) who replaced Rob Callard in 2014, while the surprise and perhaps proof that this band will now be a side project is the appearance of Conor Marshall of Conjurer fame replacing Carl Parnell on bass.
Powerhouse opening “Empty Prophets” should put all the doubters in their place. A ripper of a cut that blends Thrashier elements with some pure Death Metal parts as well as a face melter of a solo, as Middleton screams “with your broken axe to grind“. He’s got something to say that he’s held back and now it’s time to let everyone know. Single “I Sever” is equally a rager and could have been just as good as an opening cut with it’s acoustic introduction. Galloping kit work and some Trivium inspired guitar moments, including a technical solo showcase the bands skills while Middleton’s vocals impress. He might not come across as the most natural of vocalists but he’s got what it takes and he has improved leaps and bounds since he started in the role. The band may hail from Reading but there is no accenting in the unclean roars at all, if anything he sounds like he is in a modern American Thrash influenced act. Title track “Cycle of Suffering” keeps that continuity with some classic Thrash chord progressions that have a Testament vibe to them along with some well worked palm muting. The trauma within the lyrics are ocean deep and valley wide and run along classic Thrash post Vietnam war Post Traumatic Stress Disorder lines while being delivered with a brute force aggression that is perfect headbanging fodder.
Refusing to drop the energy levels or pacing, “Shield” is a call to friends and family to hold strong in the hour of need as the metaphorical shield. Riffs a plenty and a technical ripper of a solo, there is no lack luster moment or lack of ideas so it never gets boring, Middleton’s pent up aggression carries everything on a tidal wave of destruction. Single “Calcified” is a mid album cut that has moments which remind of Stampin’ Ground or Romeo Must Die with Middleton’s voice sounding like a wrathful take on that of Adam “Bomb” Frakes-Sime in his pronunciation of the song title especially. Returning with “Invidia” which sounds like an early full throttle Killswitch Engage with its Melodic Death Metal riffs, it has a chant-able chorus “Tired of being alone, And the fingers you’ve worn to the bone, Are feeble yet clawing for me, Yet wish it all away” that will go down well at festivals should they manage to play any, which the intricate guitar dueling solo and speed metal moments are testament to the bands skills.
If “Invidia” has a soft center then “Idle Hands” leaves no stone unturned in it’s pursuit of Metal perfection. The slow breakdown into a bright tapping section is absolutely stunning and what you’re left with is something that not only has a darkness but also an epic sense of grandeur. “Apex of Disdain” returns to the Thrash vibes with a meaty hook and juicy pick slide before it marches like an army across barren lands. Whether there is some political or ethical sentiment in the lyrics is down to interpretation but with lines like “Your salvation comes at a price, A disregard for all life“, the vengeful tongue of the lyrics isn’t lost in the riffs of excellence. As with “I Sever“, “Arms Like a Noose” has that acoustic introduction that has been part of Thrash (and Metal) since the dawn of time. Its a skin that is quickly shed though with Bailey and Middleton going ten to the dozen to bring the 2020 guitar work to the table. Bleed From Within drummer Ali Richardson also has field day, a powerhouse behind the kit that knows how it’s done and with Machine Head overtones in some of the riffs, they produce the perfect blend.
If there was any doubt that this album would be anything other than all killer no filler, then let us put your mind to rest. The quality is nothing short of unrelenting, which is a testament to all involved because as good as the vocals and guitar work from Middleton are, the other players also deliver stand out performances and that elevates the whole album into a new realm. “Devils in Their Eyes” is a rip roarer of a track that gallops in at 100 miles an hour and grabs you by the hair and doesn’t let go. It’s sentiment is again a powerful one with lyrics about the corruption of power. “Disintegrate” continues that lyrical theme by asking just how much damage can be undone while being front loaded with headbangable riffs. A glorious pick slide and some old school 80s Sepultura moments around a bright technical solo are absolute moments of class. Brought in my some aching piano work and a clean vocal part akin to Architects, “Abandon” might catch you off guard at the start. It’s only once the screamed backing vocal layer cuts in that you realize this is the same record and when the riffs kick in for a short burst before dropping to acoustics it’s clear that we have a longer, melodic track with some progressive leanings on our hands. It is Sylosis take on an Architects track and has an aching beauty in its sense of painful loss and abandonment [9/10]
1. Empty Prophets
2. I Sever
3. Cycle of Suffering
7. Idle Hands
8. Apex of Disdain
9. Arms Like a Noose
10. Devils in Their Eyes
“Cycle Of Suffering” by Sylosis is out now via Nuclear Blast