SYLOSIS – A Sign of the Things to Come

SYLOSIS – A Sign of the Things to Come



Sylosis is a British metalcore act with some thrash and groove metal influences of which you could not tell that they were British just by listening to their vocalist who sounds so like the New American Heavy Metal screamer I was actually shocked to learn he was not an American. I mean, as an American myself I can usually tell when I’m dealing with a British person because of the different pronunciation of words like “can”, “say” or phrases such as “going to” or “want to”, but here, Josh Middleton pronounces it all the American way and hence the almost certainly unintended deception. Accordingly, with the vocals comes the music, somewhere between the first two Trivium albums and the now sadly defunct Himsa with some Gothenburg melodeath influences and Panteric groove thrashcore breakdowns, a sweet spot between thrash, melodeath and metalcore, in summary a New American Heavy Metal act, and this just judging by the sixth full length installment A Sign of Things to Come²⁰²³ which Sylosis dropped on September 8th via the mighty Nuclear Blast Records, since I can’t say I’m familiar with Conclusion Of An Age²⁰⁰⁸, Edge Of The Earth²⁰¹¹, Monolith²⁰¹², Dormant Heart²⁰¹⁵ or Cycle Of Suffering²⁰²⁰.

The roots of Sylosis go back to the year 2000, the time of the metalcore insurgency which, I don’t care who disagrees, saved the so called true heavy metal from being extinct by the three prong alien attack of grunge, alternative rock and the horribly monikered nü metal as bands like Metallica, Machine Head and even Megadeth were being served their own still beating hearts for consumption by the former aliens. Josh Middleton (guitars, keyboards, lead vocals), at the time 15 years old (which somewhat parallels Matt Heafy joing Trivium in 1999 at the age of 13), who is left-handed but plays the guitar right-handed, had founded Sylosis with Gurneet Ahluwalia (guitars-2007) and Carl Parnell (bass-2016) of whom Middleton, who took over the vocals from the first vocalist Ben Hollyer (2003-2007) in 2007, is the only remaining original member, currently joined by Alex Bailey (2008-guitars), Conor Marshall (2019-bass, 2023-guitars) and Ali Richardson (2014-drums). It took the band 6 years to finally release their debut Casting Shadows²⁰⁰⁶ EP via In At The Deep End Records and additional 2 for the first full length Conclusion Of An Age²⁰⁰⁸ via Nuclear Blast Records with whom they remain to date. Three more albums had followed, Edge Of The Earth²⁰¹¹, Monolith²⁰¹² and Dormant Heart²⁰¹⁵ before the band broke up for 3 years. Reunited in 2019, just in time for the global pandemic outbreak, they returned with the aptly named Cycle Of Suffering²⁰²⁰.

Although no stranger to lyrical profanity after the manner of Phil Anselmo (Pantera), Rob Flynn (Machine Head), Jason Netherton (Misery Index) or even Mark Hunter (Chimaira), all of whom Middleton seems to be influenced by both vocally and musically, Josh is an astute observant of the human condition or nature, if you will. The album may or not be conceptual but it “reads” like a concept of the world on its rapid way to self-propelled annihilation with the barnstormer title track the best introduction, if it were a concept indeed. There are allusions to the Christian tradition and to God or even crucifixion of Jesus Christ but in reference not to that historic event but as a type of self-appointed martyrs who aren’t martyrs at all but narcissists posing as such (Poison for the Lost, Judas, Eye for an Eye) where Middleton calls such fellows serpents (which nota bene is a metaphoric name for the Devil in the Bible) who, having turned their flock away usurp their way to the grave, who’d lie their way into heaven to slaughter the angels, as Middleton sees that crown of thorns bearing down the burden of all the souls they denounce, a clear reference to the so called church leaders/false prophets (as one of my fb friends calls them passed turds and profits) whom many of us had the displeasure to meet and to be deeply scarred by, for whom nothing is sacred and whose thirst seems to never be satisfied. To wit, they preach love but don’t give it, the oxymoron of an Old Testament (Eye for an Eye) Christian, the only one who’s been left blind in the end, a father (a possible reference to the title of a Roman Catholic priest), a forsaker unable to turn the other cheek. As Middleton seems to be a certain kind of God-believer or, at least, God acknowledger, he seems to know what the true shepherds of the Christ’s flock should be like and that they don’t sell “Poison for the Lost” but offer true empathy, real help, faith, hope and love and the song’s main theme is that Middleton had met too many of those who are antithetical to the idea and then he used that experience to write one of the album’s two perfect tracks, the other one, “Descent” immediately following. And not only is Middleton’s own experience with religion and religious poor excuses for leaders familiar to me to the point of enthusiastic agreement but so is his conclusion that the present times we live in are so dark that we can’t tell God from the Devil and that, therefore, we’re just “Absent” more than ever. In his admirable humility, Josh admits that he’s no saint, that he hasn’t got any virtue but that this dichotomy troubles him so much he had to write one of Sylosis’ most original and atypical tracks (although, again, in my humility, I admit I can only judge from my Sylosis experience which is only this album), which finally fittingly brings me to the music.

I can’t say that the opener, “Deadwood”, is one of my favorite tracks, but I can say that the fantastic “Pariahs”, with its Chimaira verses and the palmuted “Chains of Humanity” God Forbid riffs, is, and it ushers the two aforementioned perfections: “Poison for the Lost” and “Descent”, both with plenty of Panteric/Misery Index powerful groove and melodic choruses recalling their fellow countrymen Bullet For My Valentine’s classic The Poison²⁰⁰⁵, Trivium’s inimitable and legendary Ascendancy²⁰⁰⁵ or even Soilwork of that same time, so, in summary, the album’s first half (5.4) is superior to the second by 0.4 points, and, it is at this point that Sylosis floors jaw’s fans by the aforementioned ballad “Absent”, which starts out like Machine Head’s “The Burning Red” which itself was in the vein of Nine Inch Nails’ cover of Johnny Cash’s “Hurt”. And, yes, Middleton copies Robb Flynn’s monotone croon so well I was almost tricked into believing the latter paid a cameo visit, but no, because that’s just what Middleton sounds like when he sings ballad, as “Thorns” would later prove, but the latter is very close to perfection, as it heavily borrows from In Flames’ “Only For The Weak” stylings from the classic Clayman²⁰⁰⁰ album while offering a melodic transition akin to Killswitch Engage’s “Numbered Days”. Now can you blame me for thinking Sylosis were a New American Heavy Metal band?

You may detect some overtones of a dissatisfied listener but, firstly, I had no expectations since I had nothing to compare this album to, and, secondly, the only just good tracks are “Deadwood” and “Absent” (cudos, though, for offering something different) while none of the remaining 8 tracks deserve less than a 5 grade score. Make no mistake, A Sign of the Things to Come²⁰²³ is a very good record chockful of great riffs, melodies and thoughtful lyrics with a fantastic production courtesy of Scott Atkins (not to be confused with the martial arts movie star), so let this serve as the conclusion of this review.

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