12th January 2015 – Nuclear Blast
01. Where The Wolves Come To Die
02. Victims And Pawns
03. Dormant Heart
04. To Build A Tomb
11. Callous Souls
It’s almost hard to believe that Sylosis have existed in some form or other now for nearly fifteen years, but as they release fourth album Dormant Heart, it is clear that through dogged determination and some good old fashioned hard work, they have established themselves as something of a cornerstone for a British metal scene that didn’t really exist when they first started out.
Gradually developing both their sound and their fan base with a relentless touring and recording schedule, they have suffered a couple of setbacks since the 2012 release of last album Monolith (no relation). Firstly, whilst touring the States with Trivium in 2013, the band were involved in a fairly serious accident that took them off the road for a number of months for recuperation. Then in September 2014, long-term drummer Rob Callard announced he was standing aside, to be replaced by Bleed From Within‘s Ali Richardson. Ali’s appointment was not a huge surprise, given that he had filled in for Rob on tour with Devildriver earlier in 2014.
Now, whilst it is entirely possible to dissect the Sylosis sound – some thrash here, melo-death there, a liberal sprinkling of NWOAHM – this does rather over-complicate the situation. Above all, Dormant Heart is a straight-up, no nonsense metal album that – by and large – pulls no punches and takes no prisoners.
The accumulated experience of the band has resulted in the most polished and accomplished collection of songs the band have released to date, packed to the rafters with riffs that the likes of Byzantine or even Machine Head would have been happy to put their names to. Tracks like Mastodon-esque “To Build A Tomb” or “Indoctrinated” showcase this almost ruthless efficiency the most effectively.
On a technical level, the delivery is virtually flawless, with those satisfyingly crunchy riffs being complemented by Josh Middleton’s assured vocals and some sympathetic soloing, presumably shared between Josh and Alex Bailey. Perhaps typically for this particular branch of metal, Carl Parnell’s bass is only really identifiable through inference for the vast majority of the album.
But whilst Dormant Heart is an unquestionably well executed album, there’s precious little that an average listener won’t have heard before. The album doesn’t often take risks or push any boundaries, and when it does the results are not entirely successful – the occasional orchestral additions end up lacking the punch of, say, Xerath, and album closer “Quiescent” rather overstays its welcome.
But for a straight blast of no-frills metal, Dormant Heart is largely a success. People looking for the cutting edge may well be better off elsewhere, but there aren’t many bands kicking out headbangers of this quality right now.