Sylosis – Monolith (Nuclear Blast Records)

Tuesday, 26th March 2013
Rating: 9/10

They say that three is a charm, so I think it is safe to pronounce the latest effort from resident UK thrashers Sylosis as the perfect record. It may not be charming in the strictest of senses, but it rages hard and Josh Middleton brings it full on for this release. The new work is called Monolith and the title is so fitting, given how strong this release stands as a testament to Middleton’s devotion to Sylosis.

Since the release of Edge of the Earth in 2011, the band has forged ahead with Middleton at the helm, doubling for both vocal and lead guitar duties. Surprisingly, the band rebound quickly for this new release and Monolithculminates into 72 minutes of extreme metal goodness. At times it is an exhaustive listening experience, but for those who appreciate Sylosis, this should be a real treat. Its definitely music to my ears, and at the end of the day Monolith will prove to be the real charm in the band’s discography.

Supposedly, Monolith is an ambitious concept record taking its cues from Greek mythology as a frame of reference. The tragedy behind most Greek myths is perfect fodder for this type of material and the dark patterns weaving into the songs is a pure stroke of genius. Take for instance “Fear the World” with its doomy intro (to lull you) and then it quickly explodes into a speedy riff fest. As is “What Dwells Within” with a chugging mid section and bolstered with Middleton’s screams, giving the song an ominous feel.

The strongest tracks are as follows: “The River” with its ambient sounds to help augment the brutality and precision like riffing found throughout. “Monolith” is a steady thrasher, and my personal favorite “A Dying Vine” in lieu of the galloping stomp of late 90’s era Testament brutally arcing through the backbone of the song. The track also winds down into a haunting acoustic, giving it time to breath into finality. Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention “All Is Not Well” which showcases Middleton’s vocal chops to the ninth degree. The dude can scream with the best of them and it is here he reaches the levels of George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher’s highest pitch and probably surpasses it on “Born Anew.”

The crowning moment for this release is arguably the closing song “Enshrined” because of how epic sounding it becomes once you factor in the combination of aggression, the Bay Area-influenced riffs and a generous portion of progressive melodies. The song breaks at the eight and a half minute mark, but picks up again at the 12th minute and mutates into what I like to describe as the closest thing to a ballad this band is capable of writing. Maybe the closest comparison is Machine Head’s “I Am In Hell, but I say this loosely though.

Monolith is a major triumph and probably one of the strongest releases of the year. You won’t find a better sounding record than this, and Middleton is developing into a bonafide frontman. He may be the UK’s answer to Robb Flynn and that’s a good thing I believe, so I see nothing but bright days ahead for Sylosis.

 Sylosis official site

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