Review Summary: A modern thrash classic with all the heart and soul of some of the best Bay Area thrash bands and a refreshing take on the otherwise overdone genre.
Reading-based modern thrash outfit Sylosis have always been a rather interesting band. On the one hand they clearly worship the entire Bay Area thrash scene and wear this influence on their sleeves, with bands like Exodus, Testament, Metallica and Anthrax clearly making their mark on the band. But on the other hand they manage to mix these influences with a more modern, unique sound. Where a lot of bands try and update the thrash sound, they end up either sounding like complete ripoffs or they lose the thrash and sound closer to what I'd class as metalcore. But Sylosis have managed to get the balance absolutely perfect, and this new album proves it even more than their last.
The problems I had with the last album have pretty much completely disappeared...the whiney core-ish clean vocals, and the tendency to rely on double kick drums too much, and a worrying seeping through of metalcore elements in the riffs. This time around they have decided not to embrace the mainstream and become like a lot of the other successful bands out there at the moment, but instead to please classic thrash fans without making them chant "RIPOFFS!".
The vocal duties are now handled by lead guitarist Josh Middleton and to be honest I think he greatly improves upon ex frontman Jamie Graham's vocals. Josh's screams are more varied, going from low death metal growls to higher pitched shrieks and they fit so nicely to the music. That and the clean parts are a lot less whiney, and their more sparse placement makes them more of a breath of fresh air than the last time round.
The guitar work is as I expected, not too show-offy but at the same time mightily impressive. The shreds are used sparingly, allowing a much more melodic approach to be taken to the leads. Too many bands these days tend to just shred away without taking the time to let the notes breathe, whereas Sylosis obviously laugh down at those people as they are able to do solos that incorporate both a slower, more melodic approach with a few bursts of fun shredding.
The album opens with "Procession". Immediately an air of Metallica's clean intros comes through, but then suddenly exploding into what can only be described as Bay Area reborn. It truly has captured the sound of thrash without imitating it. I can't even place my finger on what exactly it is about the music that Sylosis are doing different to other bands, it just really does sound rather unique.
The trend to make me smile with riff after riff continues throughout the album, without a single track bringing it down. Usually I find on albums I really enjoy, there may be one or two tracks that aren't as good. But this album definitely had me captured all throughout.
I have seen others state that whilst the album is brilliant, it tends to be a bit too long, clocking in at 78 minutes. Personally I think this is good, as I find a lot of albums these days tend to be shorter than I expected. Plus it isn't simply a case of "quantity over quality", as all of the tracks are simply magnificent.
As far as 2011 releases go, this has most definitely been the best so far. Obviously the year is only just begun, but make sure to include this in your collection. Whether you're a classic thrash fan or more into the modern styles, this album is sure to get you headbanging and finding out when Sylosis are playing live near you.