Tuesday, 19 June 2012

What You Should Be Listening To - Sylosis

    Hey everybody, today we’re going to be talking about What You Should Be Listening To. Now, I realize that everything I post about is in this vein, namely stuff I think is cool and I’m trying to turn people onto. But your average post might be a list, with a particular theme, that offers a variety of suggestions for things to possibly check out, whereas WYSBLT* will focus on a specific band and/or album that you should have a go at if you want to continue calling yourself a fan of the heavy metal music. This is the shit that I, in my humble opinion, think you NEED to hear. This is what you should be listening to. Like how I brought that back around? Additionally, as a concession to those of you who might say that the amount of metal featured thus far in this purportedly metal blog has been somewhat less than satisfactory, I’ve chosen something nice and heavy for today: Sylosis, some thrash from across the pond.

    Affectionately dubbed Shredding from Reading* by friends and fans, Sylosis have been one of my favourite bands for a couple of years now in large part because they do such a good job straddling the line between the beautiful and the bestial, an oft-contested border in modern metal. The guys in Sylosis (and more specifically guitarist, vocalist, and principal songwriter Josh Middleton) have melodic sensibilities that rival more mainstream stateside acts like Killswitch Engage and Darkest Hour, but they’re fast, heavy, and thrashy enough to stand alongside old school Metallica. In fact, I might even label them with something snappy like ‘Metallica for the New Millennium’.  If I were writing cover copy for a metal magazine, and looking for something sensational. Which I’m not.

    I singled Josh Middleton out in the paragraph above because he’s kinda the driving force in the band, and I think he has a big future in metal. Through two EPs, two full lengths, and now a third record that seems to be nearing completion (look ‘em up on Facebook for the latest news on their band page), Josh has remained an awesome guitar player in both rhythm and lead capacities and a great riff and song writer even as he’s taken on lead vocal duties as well, starting with last year’s Edge of the Earth. I think my favourite part of Josh’s approach to metal (and therefore Sylosis’ approach, really) is what you might call ‘wisdom’, or perhaps ‘discretion’. Or maybe just ‘good taste’. As a guitarist he knows when to shred your face off and when to rein it in. In the same way, as a songwriter he knows when a song needs to be fast as fuck, or heavy as fuck, and when something different is required. In every lineup they’ve had, Sylosis has been a tight and talented band whose musicianship is in service of their songs, and not the other way around. It makes for some tasty metal that is brutal and fast, but not to the point of monotony. It’s melodic and beautiful without sounding wimpy or watered down. It’s technical and complex without being showy or inaccessible. It’s fucking Sylosis people, and it’s what you should be listening to.

Tracks to check out:
- The Bereaved - this one’s off of their very first EP, but it’s still one of my favourite Sylosis songs. It remains a perfect showcase of what the band is capable of, going from melodic and downtempo to hundred mile-an-hour thrash and back again at the drop of a hat, and containing a pair of brief guitar solos that run the gamut of Josh’s playing in a few measures of a single song. Definitely start here.
- Oath of Silence - this song is worth checking out if only because Sylosis recorded it twice: once on their first EP and then again for their first full length. This can be an interesting proposition for a band, not to record, say, a live version of a song but rather a new studio version, and one that can end well or disastrously. In this case, however, everything works out, and the 2008 update shows both how strong the song was to begin with and how the band has changed in two years. Either version kicks ass, but if you intend to do both, for god’s sake start with the Casting Shadows version before moving on to the Conclusion of an Age version. Don’t mess with the space-time continuum.
- Teras - an epic thrash track that has it all: a badass main riff that gallops relentlessly through the song accompanied by machine-precise double-kick thunder, bleak lyrics delivered with ferocity, and some fiery leads coming out of the choruses that culminate in an intense-if-too-short solo. It also has an actual music video, so it’s about as good a track as any to sample from Conclusion of an Age.
- Empyreal (pt. 1) - this was the first single off of the band’s most recent release, Edge of the Earth, and should give you a good taste of what the band’s current incarnation is all about. It’s also a perfect example of the double duty Josh now does as both lead guitarist and lead vocalist. And to cap things off, it’s another song with an actual video, giving your eyes a little something to do while your ears have sweet, sweet, heavy metal love made to them.

    As always, head over to youtube (or Facebook, Myspace, the band’s official site...it’s up to you, really) and have a listen to these or any other Sylosis tunes and leave a comment below to let me know what you think. Between their back catalogue, live videos, and teaser material for their apparently upcoming third album, you should have enough Sylosis to keep you busy until next time, so you’d better get to it. Later skaters.

* Yeah, it’s a shit acronym. Shut up.
** for all you non-anglophiles, the place name Reading in England rhymes with the word “shredding”. Look it up!