Review by Rick Ossian
Reading’s Sylosis have returned with their fourth full-length offering, Dormant Heart. Not only is this a clarion call to unite thrashers worldwide; it is a declaration, a statement of intent. A statement on how to be intense, more like! This recording is one of the better thrash outings I’ve heard in recent years, and is riddled with the stereotypical thrash stuff (stunning guitar riffs/solos, vocal-chord shredding, trip-hammer double-bass drum pounding, etc.). However, I think you will find that while listening, you may notice the occasional variation.
For example, in opener Where The Wolves Come To Die, we are suckered in by what sounds very much like the riff to Metallica‘s Enter Sandman. Do not despair, dear reader – the sensation passes soon. We are also treated to some pretty neat guitar riffing with this track in addition to the digression mentioned above. At about one minute in the boys shift to a heavier, creepier vibe. A minute later, however, things get sped up just a bit, and before we know what hit us (2:30), we are in Riff City! There is some serious drum pounding going on here as well (2:45), particularly at the end.
Victims and Pawns again finds Ali Richardson (drums) very busy. His cohorts are no slouches, either. Leader Josh Middleton holds down one of the guitars and the vocal-chord-destroying onslaught, while Alex Bailey plays more guitars and Carl Parnell keeps a rock steady rhythm going on bass guitar. This stuff is NOT for the faint of heart, and is often VERY heavy and VERY fast. There are some brief guitar solo ‘moments’, if you will, mainly at 1:20 and 3:50. It is remarkable that these blokes find the time for guitar solos, as there is often more going on here than meets the ears.
Next up is the title track, featuring an atmospheric intro and some pretty heavy duty thrash. There is an absolutely shredding guitar solo at 3:20, followed by a downshift and a slightly introspective section. Things kick back in (4:40) late in the tune, which is obviously a pattern of sorts for this Reading foursome, as a similar song structure occurs a few times later on…
To Build a Tomb is next, and a quick search of YouTube will find a Josh Middleton tutorial for all of you prospective thrash guitarists. A very cool guitar intro is followed by slamming vocals, shifts in tempo, heavy riffs and a shredding guitar solo AGAIN at the three-minute mark. A very heavy ending here as well.
Overthrown is a heavy duty, triple-time attack on the aural cavities. There is the obligatory downshift (1:30) and a solo of sorts (2:20) that takes us to the fade-out.
Leech includes a guitar ‘spectacle’ intro, heralding a drum attack, then cue the growly vocals about 30 seconds in. On a rhetorical angle, do Josh’s vocal chords hurt? It sounds like he’s tearing them apart at times – but I digress. Talk about shred! At 2:40 there is a shift, followed by a solo with a bit of shred. They sound positively despondent on this one – but perhaps that is the point! There is some quiet time at around 3:30, then doom and gloom, as one might expect. At four minutes Josh sounds like he could be going for a world record-length scream, as he totally shreds what’s left of his vocal chords. Four-and-a-half minutes in, the fade begins again– this may be a moot point but I believe they overdo the fade-out a bit here and there.
Servitude includes a dual guitar intro, then heavy-as-hell drums, followed by a killer main riff with hard and heavy vocals to match. At 2 minutes in there is a guitar bit, followed by a heavy double-bass drum shift, then some more shredding at 2:45. They return to the main riff at the three-minute mark, then another lead guitar bit to the fade (sound familiar?).
Indoctrinated is another piece that features a sullen, mellow intro, then we get slammed by the guitars, drums and vocals all at once! There is some brief shredding soaked in wah about one minute in, then some serious riffing, a shift in tempo (again), and a downshift, almost to slow motion, following shortly afterward. There is another brief stab at melodic guitar soloing at 3:45, then back to the vocal and main guitar riff at 4:00. A killing drum/vocal slam brings the proceedings to an end.
Harm has another cool guitar intro for us, then 25 seconds in we are slammed back again, so hang on to your hat! There is some excellent guitar work here as well. At 1:30 there is a brief solo, but anything detracting from the main riff is pretty much pointless here, as the main riff is just smashing! At 2:45 there is a drum interlude, followed by a 3-minute mark shift into heavy as hell territory again. The guitar solo at 3:20 is a bit longer than the others, and at 3:35 it shifts to sky guitar, where things almost turn a bit proggy for a bit. There is more shifting and shredding at about 4 minutes in, kind of melodic this time, and a triumphant vocal return combined with a heavy finish.
Mercy features a riffy beginning, then we are slammed again by all of the players! The vocals and the instruments seem to be vying for attention here, and there is some heavy double-time riffing (2 minutes in) going on, plus some more triumphant vocals. There is also some shredding (3:30) and some more vocal prowess at about 4 minutes in – some positive screaming, if you will! Slow, heavy riffing again takes us to the close.
Callous Souls includes heavy riffing on the guitar and drums again, plus a bit of galloping (ala Maiden) in the intro. The main riff kicks in about 25 seconds in. There is some no-holds-barred jamming here, and of course the shifting, riffing, blow-out guitar solos (3:00 and around 3:30). At one point things get really quiet, and you can hear the boys jamming in the background – almost as if they are preparing for the next SLAM! Sure enough, at 4 minutes in, they return to heavy form. ‘Yes the Reaper comes’, bellows Josh, and I for one am a bit frightened…
The closer, Quiescent, is the only real odd man out here. It is significantly longer than the other tracks (just over 9 minutes), and features some mellow acoustic fingerpicking at the outset. There is also STRAIGHT singing, which I can only assume serves as a resting point for Mr. Middleton, who has no doubt completely destroyed his vocal chords at this point. Is this the same band? ‘Maybe the flames are all they have‘, muses our vocalist. There is some creepy guitar strumming and some slow picking here as well — very incongruous when compared to the other tracks. There is even some orchestration (violins, anybody?) at about the 3-minute mark. At 4:10 there is a melodic guitar solo, then back to the riffing at about 4:30. This is a bit proggy, and slightly reminiscent of Mastodon, to these ears. At 4:50 there is more guitar soloing, then at 5 minutes in the shredding vocals/guitar return. At six minutes in there is an instrumental interlude of sorts, and an overly lengthy guitar solo (6:20 – 8-something), then to the fade, where a creepy mellow ending ensues. The guitar work towards the end is a bit repetitive, but not bad all in all.
To sum up, Sylosis are VERY good at what they do. That being said, they are not for everyone. Proceed with caution!