LOUDER LIVE: Sylosis @ Islington Assembly Hall, 13.02.20
After four years on hiatus, the wait was over for Sylosis fans as the band marked their comeback with a sold out show at London's Islington Assembly Hall. Originally from Reading, Sylosis spent the first decade of their career forging a fearsome reputation as one of British metal's most innovative acts with their unique blend of thrash, prog and metalcore. After four well-received albums, the break took a break in 2016 with many of the band's members pursuing other projects (most notably frontman Josh Middleton who stepped in to fill Tom Searle's shoes in Architects after his tragic death). Towards the end of last year though, Sylosis grabbed the attention of the metal scene once again with the announcement of a new album 'Cycle of Suffering', which came out on 7th February, and a comeback gig which sold out fast; giving an indication of how much excitement was surrounding the band and their reunion.
Opening the show for them were three-piece death metallers Dyscarnate, whose appearance onstage was delayed due to technical issues. Fortunately these did not persist into their set, so they were eventually able to show the crowd what they were all about. For such a small band, they make an almighty sound which immediately gets the audience engaged and warming up their neck muscles ahead of the main act. Part of their core success comes from the dualing guttural vocals of guitarist Tom Whitty and bassist Al Llewellyn, who are able to deliver some tremendous roars throughout the show while never getting too distracted from their playing. Drummer Matt Usworth also deserves a great deal of credit for creating a lot of the power and volume which Dyscarnate rely on to achieve their brutal sound with only three members. The trio functioned very well together and wasted very little time tearing through their short set focusing almost exclusively on songs from their most recent 2017 album 'With All Their Might'. As someone who does not often venture into the realms of death metal, the extent to which Dyscarnate managed to hold my attention and hook me into their music was impressive, and they proved to be an excellent choice of opening act.
The atmosphere was positively electric by the time Sylosis came to the stage, and they wasted no time before ploughing straight into 'I Sever', which was the first single to be announced marking the band's comeback. Even though it's still a new song, the entire London audience bellowed the chorus back when commanded by Middleton. 'Calcified', the second single from the new album 'Cycle of Suffering', soon followed and by this stage a permanent mosh pit had been established in the middle of the venue and remained until the end of the show. For a band whose sound is so dynamic, Sylosis are actually quite a static band onstage; the only real movement on this occasion being provided by new bassist Conor Marshall (also of Conjurer) whose ability to relentless windmill while playing complex bass riffs is becoming somewhat legendary.
In general though, Sylosis let the music speak for itself; with Middleton in particular being a relatively diminutive figure onstage and rarely speaking to the crowd. The only thing really resembling any kind of spectacle was a giant lighting rig at the back of the stage. While this may be considered a weakness for some bands, it is a strength for Sylosis as it brings their extraordinary musicianship to the fore. You would never have thought the band hadn't played on stage together in four years, because they were so delightfully in sync with each other. Middleton may not be a classic frontman, but his ability to sing while playing these complex riffs is truly remarkable, as is his ability to nail every solo with apparent ease. He was also ably supported in the guitar department by Alex Bailey, while Marshall and drummer Ali Richardson (also of Bleed From Within) provided the solid foundation from which the rest of the music was built.
The only real downside to Sylosis' comeback show was that it didn't go on longer. They rattled through their 14-song set in just under an hour and a quarter, which allowed them to play most of their big songs such as the ferocious 'Teras' and the anthemic 'Fear The World', but also allowed them to give some time to some slightly lesser-known ones like 'Servitude' and 'Blackest Skyline'. It's easy to forget when they aren't on heavy rotation just how many exceedingly well-written songs Sylosis have in their armoury, and it was great to be reminded of that in such style. With this comeback show, and the release of 'Cycle of Suffering', Sylosis have once again demonstrated how necessary and relevant a band they are in modern British metal and how much they had been missed by the fans who had gathered in Islington while they were gone.
'Cycle of Suffering' is out now via Nuclear Blast Records.
Check out the video for 'I Sever' below: