Formed in Berkshire, England in 2000 by lead guitarist/vocalist Josh Middleton and former bassist Carl Parnell, Sylosis have since released 6 studio albums. Their most recent work, A Sign of Things to Come, features a deviation from their traditionally groovy thrash metal sound in favor of modern metal. This may be the result of Josh Middleton joining the metalcore band Architects, for which he is better known. Fans of Architects and other metalcore bands will most likely be happy to see this change, but many fans of Sylosis’ original sound, myself included, will be a bit disappointed to see the direction they’re headed in. This album has a different feel to it from Sylosis’ previous works, not only in style, but tone wise as well: the guitars have the signature modern metal tone to them, with heavy effects laid over the track, creating a very powerful sound. However, this made it a bit muddier for rhythm sections, making it harder to distinguish individual notes, although the leads were still beautifully bright. The guitar sound was very wide in the mix, which also made it extend more into the range of the bass; while Sylosis has never been a particularly bass-heavy band, the bass is all but indistinguishable in this album. The drums sound pretty similar to how they previously have, but they sit further back in the mix and aren’t quite as prominent as they usually are in metal bands (with the kick drum being especially subdued). Overall, this leads to the songs being heavily guitar and vocal oriented, which isn’t a bad thing but a matter of personal preference.
The only issue with producing music oriented as such is that the riffs and melodies delivered by the guitars and vocals really have to punch home. Sadly, I don’t feel like this album really did that for me, which left it lacking. The riffs were more focused towards creating huge, heavy grooves, but the massive tones of the guitar and extensive use of chords in riffs just made the sound a bit overbearing. The grooves seemed shallow as compared to their older works, and the lack of good melodies and heavy use of breakdowns made the record seem a bit lower effort. The solos seem to have taken influence from Kirk Hammett of Metallica, really abusing the whammy pedal, something that I think has to be executed very well to sound good. Unfortunately, I felt the solos in this album fell short of that and leaned more towards simply shredding-for-the-sake-of-shredding, rather than incorporating good melodic lines. On top of that, the vocals, which are very prominent in the mix, ended up being lackluster as well; while the switches between clean and distorted sounds showcased Josh Middleton’s talent, the vocals sounded overproduced and slightly unnatural, and the distorted vocals lacked melody and didn’t contribute to the groove either. On the other hand, the drumming was well done and complemented the music quite nicely, but one thing I noticed is that they were much more restrained about the use of double kicks.
The tempo of the songs is roughly the same as their older music, but the nature of the riffs and drumming makes it feel a bit slower paced than we usually expected from Sylosis. Structure-wise, the songs were relatively straightforward, with clear distinction between the verses, choruses, etc. Most of the songs had the same general structure, featuring a breakdown after two verse-chorus cycles, followed by a solo and another chorus. My only complaint is that the wall of sound created by the guitars, combined with the repeated use of the same song structure and similar sounding riffs and vocal rhythms, made the album a bit difficult to listen to in one sitting; about halfway through the album, the songs started to blur together, and the record became very stale and repetitive. A couple of tracks did stand out though, with “Judas” in particular really catching my attention with its powerful riffs and dark melodies at a point in the album where I had become largely disinterested. The finishing track, “A Godless Throne”, was also quite good and reminiscent of their older music, and “Pariahs” was a pretty good song as well.
Objectively, I can say that A Sign of Things to Come is far from being Sylosis’ best music, but it’s not a bad release. One of the main reasons I gave it the rating I did was just because the album is really hard to get through in one go without getting bored. However, if the songs are mixed into my playlist, I’m sure I could enjoy them a lot more. The songs individually are pretty good, and the album as a standalone is not bad at all. Nevertheless, having heard and been a fan of Sylosis’ older music, this album left a lot to be desired, and I feel like the band has much more potential than what was portrayed in this record. Additionally, I’m not really a big fan of metalcore or the modern metal sound in general, so I may have had a bias against the direction in which they decided to go with this release. While plenty of albums grow on me the more I listen to them, I don’t think I will be returning to this one, save for the couple of tracks that I added to my playlist. I am still interested to see what music this band can procure in the future and if they will continue with the same sound or change it again.