Sylosis - Cycle Of Suffering
Despite mainstream success largely eluding them, for around a decade Sylosis were solid favourites of much of the British underground metal scene. Having formed in Reading in 2000, the four-piece exploded onto the metal scene in 2008 with their debut album 'Conclusion of an Age'. By constructing a fascinating yet brutal blend of thrash, metalcore and progressive metal; Sylosis carved out their own niche in an era saturated with various different incarnations of technical heavy music. After four albums, Sylosis went on hiatus in 2016 as frontman and mastermind of the band Josh Middleton joined Architects to replace Tom Searle following his death. Despite Middleton becoming a permanent member of Architects, he maintained that Sylosis would continue, and so it proved when in December 2019, a new single 'I Sever' was released with the announcement of a new album 'Cycle Of Suffering' for 2020. This also marks the band's first album with bassist Conor Marshall (Conjurer) and drummer Ali Richardson (Bleed from Within). Naturally, the combination of these factors has led to a lot of excitement from fans across the country, with 'Cycle Of Suffering' already looking to be one of the most highly-anticipated releases of the year.
The album kicks off in explosive fashion with ‘Empty Prophets’ which fades quickly into a frantic bombardment of guitars and drums, which does not let up until the end. Sylosis had slowed down slightly towards the end of their first period as a band, beginning to favour lengthy intros and musical sections throughout their most recent album 2015’s ‘Dormant Heart’. If the first track of the album is to be taken as a statement of intent, then it very much feels like this is a return to a more vintage Sylosis where raw aggression and power reign supreme. This theme continues with ‘I Sever’, which was the first single to be released from ‘Cycle of Suffering’ back in December. An obvious choice to promote the album, ‘I Sever’ showcases the best of Middleton’s signature writing style with brilliant hooks that stick in the listener’s mind for a long time after the song finishes. What’s more, despite the line-up changes ahead of this album, the extraordinary precision which categorises the band’s sound has not disappeared; and this is particularly well encapsulated in the album’s title track where bass, guitars and drums lock together expertly to produce a pummelling rhythm which brings the best out of Middleton’s tightly constructed riffs.
The early standards set by the opening three songs are maintained consistently throughout with an intensity that honestly can get a little exhausting, even for seasoned metalheads. The decision of the band to switch to D Standard tuning for this record as well as the influence of Conor Marshall on bass gives the record a more substantive quality than much of their previous work, which put more focus on showing off the technical side of the guitar work through E Standard. ‘Cycle of Suffering’ eschews the more progressive nature of the band for a more focussed and forceful affair. Even when the aggression is muted somewhat for songs like ‘Calcified’ (which was the second song to be released ahead of time), the band still refuses to dwell too heavily on Josh Middleton’s licks and solos, preferring instead to bring his recognisable guttural vocals to the fore for catchy bridges and choruses. Songs like this also serve to further emphasise the brutality of the following songs, such as ‘Invidia’ and ‘Apex of Disdain’, during which drummer Ali Richardson really shines by adding powerful beats to the band’s riffs; while rhythm guitarist is a consistent supporting force throughout.
Where ‘Cycle of Suffering’ fits on your ranking of Sylosis albums very much depends on your own personal taste, as it certainly suits the more thrash-oriented fan more than those wanting to hear lengthy technical sections and difficult rhythms. Nevertheless, there is still enough variety contained within the album to please all on the band’s spectrum of fans, and there is absolutely no doubting the fact that this quality of musicianship remains uncommonly high throughout. It is a punishing and unrelenting listen though, as for eleven songs the four-piece performs with such pure ferocity that it is far more suited to an angry debut release than the fifth in the band’s catalogue. It ends on a different note however with ‘Abandon’ which provides an uncharacteristic slowing of the pace which is just the thing needed to round the album off with a feeling of completion. For perhaps the first time in their career, Sylosis had to deal with a huge amount of expectation throughout the writing process of this album, and they responded admirably with an album of the utmost quality, proving that they are just as exciting and relevant now as they were at the start of the last decade.