Overall Score: 9/10 Thrashometer: 9/10 Headbang Rating: 9/10 Musicianship: 9/10 Pros: Thrashtastic | Fantastic Debut | Best of British Cons: None
Sylosis are a band who have been around for quite a long time (I remember seeing them in the listings for The Marquee in Hertford and other such small venues around London about 2 or 3 years ago) but have only in the last 12 months or so started to garner the attention they arguably deserve. Conclusion of an Age, the band’s first full length album was in fact released just over a year ago on Nuclear Blast Records, but they have had a very high profile 2009 which has brought the album back to the forefront of attention. A blistering set in the Tuborg tent at Download was followed by (what was probably) an even better one in the Bohemia stage at Sonisphere Knebworth, and they’re currently on the road as support to everyone’s favourite Guitar Hero superstars Dragonforce. The question is, does Conclusion of an Age match up to the hype currently being generated around the band as one of the rising stars of British metal?
Track by Track
Desolate Seas is a standard style instrumental song for building up to the first proper track and is a decent effort, but you don’t get the same feeling from it that you would with The End of Everything (Trivium – Ascendancy) or Some of the Shadows Fall instrumental pieces. You’ll soon forget all about that though as After Lifeless Years comes crashing into your ears with a great opening breakdown. It features several fantastic riffs punctuated with several mini solos and some particularly harsh screaming vocals mixed with a clean chorus which all fits together fantastically, making for one hell of a main opening song.
The Blackest Skyline starts off slower than After Lifeless Years but soon picks up a relentless pace (which is well accompanied by lyrics such as “First the sound approaches then the lightning strikes”). Sylosis again offer a nice variety of riffs and guitar work on display in this song along with some great kick drumming and Jamie Graham displays a good range of growled and screaming vocals on this song. A very solid song.
Transcendence very much reminds me of Trivium circa Ember To Inferno as the song carries a similar structure to many of the tracks on that album and the use of clean vocals is also quite similar. Whilst some people will consider comparing a band to Trivium an insult as they are something of a “marmite band”, I think its a fairly big compliment. This song features the biggest use of clean vocals on the album thus far, so it may not be to everyones liking but carries on the high standards set thus far.
The arguable highlight of the album is Reflections Through Fire, a song that is old school thrash combined with more modern metalcore sounds at it’s finest and I imagine most metal fans would find it hard not to find themselves headbanging along to this with the choruses repeated cries of “Forced Into Fire”. This song tends to incite an insane reaction from a crowd live and it is not hard to see why.
The album’s title track starts with an intro that immediately reminds me of Chimaira, before some great growling vocals from Jamie Graham. The album’s lyrical theme of the end of the human race is very prevalent in this song (“Watching as we fall apart”, “Eradication closing in” to give 2 examples) and the song is one of the most brutal on the album reflecting this, before a more mellow musical outro gives the song a fitting finish.
Swallow the World features two of the best riffs on the album with one leading into the other when the track kicks in after the intro and then repeated at various points throughout the song. The lyrics for this song are very dark and depressive sounding and could be interpreted from a personal point of view or on a wider scale. The pace of the song is again relentless with barely a bar’s worth of rest in the whole 5:56 running time, only letting up at all towards the end with a small section of clean vocals. Another great track.
Teras features some great drumming from Rob Callard and more great guitar work with a couple of impressive breakdowns that just make you want to bang your head. A straight up modern thrash song, the solo at around the 3 minute mark is particularly ear pleasing, just preceeding the almost Master of Puppets-esque interlude (not as chilled as Puppets but that gives you a rough idea if you have not heard the song). The song comes crashing back in with another great riff/drum combo, leaving you to bang your head all the way to the end of the song.
Withered displays harsher vocals than some of the other songs with Graham really stretching his limits screaming in the build up to the interlude, but aside from that it is more of the same punishing sound already discussed. This is no way lessens the impact of the song and is another solid track from Sylosis.
Last Remaining Light features a mellow guitar driven intro which kicks in at around the 40 second mark, Rob Callars crashing drums carrying the main sound of the track across another growled delivery from Jamie Graham underpinned with more impressive guitar work. The mix of clean and growled vocals works very well on this song. A slower solo section then gives way to a speed solo and its actually debatable which is more impressive, both sounding great for different reasons before a second fast solo takes us through to the end and (shock horror) a bit of piano on the end, which sounds a little out of place but finishes the song off well, if in an unexpected way.
Stained Humanity brings us straight back to the world of straight up modern thrash with a particularly evil, somewhat Slayer-esque mid-section to the song before some of the heaviest drumming of the whole album follows threatening to blow your ear drums off as does the solo. I could imagine a few people getting a speeding ticket listening to this song. It does drop into a slightly unexpected ending for the last 40 seconds of so (seemingly one of their trademarks) and in this case I don’t think it fits too well, but it only detracts slightly from the preceeding 4 minutes.
Oath of Silence aims to finish off the album with a bang, with at least 2 more great riffs before Jamie Graham launches into a fierce vocal delivery, meaning every word, in particular the lyrics (“But unlike the hand of Midas, What you touch will turn to shit”) from the chorus. The heaviness goes up a notch on this song, with everything seeming just a touch more powerful than on some of the songs that have gone before (it is worth noting that this is the song that caused a tent wide circle pit at Sonisphere Knebworth 09). One more time there is a fantastic solo which takes us to the calm outro, giving the record a near-perfect finish.
Throughout the album you can hear the influence of the 80s thrash greats, particularly Metallica, Megadeth and (arguably) most of all Testament in the riff styles and solos of certain songs. Jamie Graham’s vocals are fantastic, sounding at times like a cross between Mark Hunter of Chimaira and Chuck Billy, and displaying a good voice when dropping into clean vocals. Other reviews have criticised the aforementioned clean vocals but I find nothing wrong with them and they balance the songs out nicely, particularly on After Lifeless Years.
Rob Callard’s drumming live is particularly impressive and this is reflected well on the album, the speed and control on tracks like Reflections Through Fire, Conclusion of an Age and Withered a great feature of the songs. Carl Parnell is very solid on Bass, giving the album a fantastic rhythm section. Most of the songs feature at least two impressive riffs and there are some great screaming solos, making full use of the fret board and the wah wah. Gurneet Ahluwalia and Josh Middleton made for a very effective guitar pairing, Ahluwalia has since left the band to join Viatrophy after the recording of Conclusion of an Age was finished.
For a debut album, this is very impressive. Their live performances more than back it up, my only hope is that Sylosis do not suffer from the often occuring, difficult “second album syndrome”. One of the best metal albums of the last 2 years by anybody.