Sylosis - Dormant Heart 01Sylosis have been one of the few bands bridging ‘popular,’ festival-headlining, metal with self-proclaimed high-brow or underground metal in recent years. You’re just as likely to encounter flat-cap toting hipster types as you are long-haired, neck-bearded ‘purists’ in the crowds of one of their gigs. Taking a populist metalcore formula but executing it with progressive and thrashy tendencies, their début, Conclusion of an Age, hugely impressed me. Hailing from Reading, England, I’ve consistently invested in their releases due to their proximity to where I’m from. Their fanbase underwent explosive growth in 2012 after their third record, Monolith, but it left me cold. Now they return with Dormant Heart and let me tell you – it’s good news.

Sharing more with older, hardcore-influenced metalcore, such as Shai Hulud, than Killswitch Engage or Bullet For My Valentine, Dormant Heart is as far from modern metalcore as they have ventured. It’s more aggressive and darker than their prior efforts, largely foregoing many tropes of ‘core’ bands. There’s nary a catchy chorus nor cheap breakdown for the temporarily trve metalheads to ironically mosh to. Bolstering their metal credibility, the strong thrash overtones in the shredding arpeggios and pummelling percussion are audible on every track. If I had to identify a similar sound for those who demand associations and categorizations, it’s comparable to a slower Testament with beefier and bassier production, sprinkled with The Dillinger Escape Plan-style ‘mathcore’ – “Indoctrinated,” for example. Dormant Heart is the real deal, and will immediately stamp itself on your face.

Further distinguishing themselves from the pack, Sylosis have always played a more technical and progressive style, and this is nowhere more apparent than here. Tasty guitar licks are everywhere, adorning standard melodies, and the core riffing is diverse and memorable. “Harm” exemplifies this, culminating in technically impressive chromatic chords, more akin to melo-death. I’m not exaggerating when I say every song has a neck-pain worthy riff – it’s quite difficult to recommend highlights due to the record’s consistency. Just as critical to the top-notch instrumentation is the excellent percussion. The interesting fills drew as much of my attention as the guitars, such as after the mid-point of “Callous Souls.” The rare quieter moments which slowly layer (such as on “Dormant Heart” and “Quiescent”) are entirely dependent on the drumming, alerting me to how it dictates the pace of the album elsewhere. Rather than being subordinated to the vocal or guitar melodies, the drums clearly received just as much attention.

Sylosis - Dormant Heart 02

There is an admirable dedication to scrapping the shackles of modern metalcore, and despite most songs running between four and six minutes, there’s pleasing variety in structure. Dormant Heart avoids simple verse-chorus-verse linearity, with only “Victims And Pawns” repeating a fairly catchy chorus. Even tracks which move to a final pay-off don’t devolve to overblown melodies and failed notions of emotional power (à la Alcest), progressing in a way which feels natural to their style – see “Leech” and “Harm.” The introductory “Where The Wolves Come To Die” sits somewhere between a typical opener and a full track, and closer “Quiescent” fleshes out the few quieter moments into an atmospheric long song which again subverts expectations. There’s variety and surprises, but all feels cohesive.

As suggested earlier, the mixing fairly balances vocals, guitars and drums, allowing each aspect to impress on a technical level. The master, courtesy of TesseracT‘s Acle Kahney, ensures an appropriate heft and crunch to the aggressive guitars. However, I would argue that the DR of 6 hinders the record in the quieter parts, with acoustic and ambient sounds being a little dull rather than standing out. That said, these are few and far between, and the range is perfectly acceptable for the heavier material.  Sylosis are back on top form with Dormant Heart. Everything that worked before is back, and their development away from metalcore clichés and into more progressive and thrashy territory lends them greater credibility than previously – at the risk of sounding snobbish. Working as a rich whole or as individual songs, it’s an exceptionally consistent record. I imagine there will be greater stand-outs from the year, but what an excellent way to begin 2015.


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 280 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Websites: SylosisOfficial | Facebook.com/Sylosis
Release Dates: EU: 2015.01.16 | NA: 01.13.2015

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  • Siege Bantayan

    I -loved- their previous album, can’t wait to dig into this!

  • Luke_22

    I had mixed feelings about Monolith but they did show tons of potential. This sounds well worth checking out. Nice review.

  • AndySynn

    These gents have always been one of those bands who I’ve WANTED to like much more than I ever actually do. I continue to persevere however, and will definitely be giving this one multiple listens.

    Oh, and I’d recommend the band “Chapters” as one who deal in a similar, though arguably more progressive, brand of Heavy/Technical/Melodic/Proggy “Modern” metal.

    • Yeah, I have love individual songs but no one album has ever captured my attention (Edge of the Earth comes pretty damn close though).

    • El_Cuervo

      Ye I sort of feel the same I guess. For a debut, I saw loads of potential in Conclusion of an Age, and since then they’ve always underperformed based on that first showing. But Dormant Heart is easily my favourite release by them

      • Robert Turnbull

        Felt the same about their first and similar disappointment with the two subsequent albums. The two songs I’ve heard from this album have definitely piqued my interest though; very different from Conclusion but no less enjoyable.

      • Jm from nj

        Since you reviewed this, can you tell me about whether your copy had the same recording “issues” as mine…2 mins into “To Build a Tomb”, and also in “Dormant Heart”…the picking on the guitar creates a beep-like sound. Did you hear that same? I don’t know if this is a recording issue, intentional pic-on-string sound, or was a mistake and overlooked.

        • El_Cuervo

          You have a great ear. It’s so low down that I didn’t hear it before, but I can now. I have no idea what that’s about

          • Jm from nj

            It’s driving me crazy now. It’s all I hear on about 4-5 tracks and it’s pretty much when the guitars hit the low string…i do not know how this got through the mixing/mastering, but it’s there.

        • It’s known as a ‘chirpie’. It’s caused when Tortex guitar picks are hit hard against higher gauge strings. It won’t help with them playing in standard E and using push tube amps. They’re more prominent in music that’s recorded using direct interfaces. Josh would have mic’d up his JCM800 for this. He’s hitting the strings hard and down picking (at a guess).

        • Paul

          It’s for sure pick attack. It’s there on many songs by many artists on many albums. But I agree with you it’s quite prominent in the places you mention. I quite like it though, it reminds you that it’s Josh thrashing his guitar that’s ‘singing’ you the song.

    • I’m with you here. Every time they release a record I’m like “Yeah, a new Sylosis record!” And then I listen to it and am always like “Oookay…” They’re good, but they never quite get over the hump into regular spins.

      • Kryopsis

        I duly gave the album multiple listens and yet I can’t help but hear Soilwork.

    • Our Fortress Is Burning

      Yeah, there is some great musicianship there. I hate to say it, but it just comes across as tired wankery. Metalcore vocals with Tech Death leads and Thrash riffs. Nothing makes me want to listen to this band again, because I truly feel like I’ve heard this album so many times before. Even if the proportions are different, it’s not different enough to make Sylosis interesting to me. Somehow, they’ve managed to cross genres without making anything new and interesting. I guess that’s a type of accomplishment, although not a good one. There must be a factory somewhere, pumping out these generic bands.

      • Al. Emit

        This is not a generic band, to me at least.
        I listen to different genres, but Sylosis has it’s own sound, very atmospheric.
        It’s probably because I love every single album, ever since Edge of the Earth found me in 2011.
        And it’s not just about “good musicianship”, insane solos or complex lyrics. There’s something inexplicable about this music.
        It’s not for everybody. Very underrated. People want easy hits.

    • This is the one where they nailed it for me. Been giving it listens and am duly impressed.

  • Piet

    I’ve never viewed them as Metalcore but rather Thrash with elements of different sub genres.
    I’m anxious to listen to this record, sounds promising :D

  • How long is the album? I do like Sylosis but they don’t seem to know when to stop throwing songs into an album. Edge of the Earth is about 20 minutes too long, and Monolith was overly long too.

    • El_Cuervo

      It’s nearly an hour long, which would usually bother me. 50+ mins albums turn me off from the start. But in this case, it zips by without feeling as long as that, it’s entertaining.

    • you said it! that’s what keeps me from enjoying this band. by the time i’m 2/3rd through the album i’ve forgotten the first few songs.

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    I ignored both Sylosis and He Is Legend on thinking them to be shitty metalcore. I was very, very wrong with both. Great stuff.

  • Samuel Honywill

    Whole album is streaming over at the Nuclear Blast website now if y’all want to hear it. Really digging it on my first spin, can’t wait to give it a few more. This coupled with Winds Of Genocide and Napalm Death records to come – we obviously get VERY angry about going back to work in January here in the UK…

  • That is one beautiful illustration on that cover art. Anything in the press kit about the artist?

    • El_Cuervo

      I deleted the press stuff (forgive me pls). But I recall it was the same bloke who did Opeth

    • Found him, goes by Bonfire, you can see some of his art in Facebook, impressive stuff.

  • Spongebob

    “Metalcore.”

    First album, debatably. The rest? Nope.

  • jorge

    outside the music discussion, and following the trend created by mr HKK hell i must say that the metal genre in general have the most visual presentations of the product in the entire music business, sometimes I’ve thought of the incredible space of expression that artists from ages when the only true art (or allowed one) was to capture some obese king and his relatives or some imaginary gods.
    And I´m really not talking or devaluating that kind of expression but probably some of those artists must have wanted to create or express some very differents things and thoughts.

  • Jm from nj

    Never found this band to be a metalcore band, but I started listening to them on their 2nd album, not their first. I saw some bloat on their 2nd album (lengthy tracks, lengthy run-times), but “Monolith”, while still long, still made nearly every track worthwhile. This one, I am psyched for. Like this band a lot.

  • OzanCan

    Sphere?