Sound — 8
Sylosis formed when the original members were still in school in 2000, and since that time there have been a lot of lineup changes but two of the founding members remain - Carl Parnell and Josh Middleton. The album's first album wasn't released until 2008, "Conclusion of an Age," shortly after signing with Nuclear Blast Records, who they have remained with. In the seven years since signing they've released 4 albums, with the last being "Dormant Heart." The deluxe version of "Dormant Heart" has 14 tracks and an approximate runtime of 66 minutes. Two singles have been released from the album - "Mercy" in October 2014 and "Leech" in November 2014. All songs were written by the band, except for the bonus track, "Zero," which is a cover of The Smashing Pumpkins tune.
The album opens up with the track "Where the Wolves Come to Die," which is a slower tempo track, and employs classic metal type riffs, and vocals reminiscent of some early death metal. The second track, "Victims and Pawns," makes use of a more traditional extreme metal drum part and even a little bit of tremolo picked guitar. The third track, which is the title track "Dormant Heart," has a melancholy and epic opening that transitions into a heavy track with some galloping guitars and pounding drums. "To Build a Tomb" starts out with a very cool little guitar lick, and some really good riffing - this is the track I find myself humming after listening to the album. "Overthrown" opens up heavy and pretty much sticks with that strategy throughout the track. "Overthrown" actually has my favorite solo from the album, as well. Next is "Leech," which is actually the second single released from the album, and this track surprised me because it went places that I didn't expect it to go. This track is probably my favorite vocal performance from the album, next to "Quiescent." "Servitude" actually has a pretty awesome groove metal thing going on with it, and this takes this song pretty far up on my list of favorites from this album. "Indoctrinated" has a slow atmospheric build up, but quickly goes to a heavy drums and guitar, with frenetic riffing and screeching and growled vocals. "Harm" has a quiet intro, like a lot of tracks on the album, but uses heavy/light and quiet/loud dynamics more than any other song on the album. "Mercy" is the first single from the album, and honestly what I like the most about this track is when the initial guitar riff comes in it sounds like somebody playing in their bedroom until the rest of the instruments come in. It is a kicka-s track. "Callous Souls" does some interesting things from a song structure standpoint, and was pretty enjoyable, overall. "Quiescent" is the final track on the standard album edition, and is by far the longest track at 9 minutes. The vocals on the majority of this track are clean, as well as the guitars - this track is very much like a classic progressive rock song - and mostly done acoustically. The first bonus track, "Pillars Erode," has a creepy intro with a tremolo effect on the guitar melody and the sound of a storm going on in the background. There are brief heavy interludes with screamed vocals, but a lot of the song is much quieter with clean vocals. The album closes out with the bonus track, "Zero," which is a cover of the track by Smashing Pumpkins. They were pretty faithful to the original, music-wise, though the vocals are much heavier.
Lyrics — 7
Founding member and lead guitarist, Josh Middleton, took over vocal duties in 2010 and the band has quit looking for a vocalist since that time, making Josh their full time vocalist. His vocals are super-growly, but you can still make out his lyrics, which is a definite benefit for an extreme metal band. There are a few occasions that Josh sings clean, most notably for large portions of the track, "Quiescent," which is also barely a metal song - mostly it sounds like a classic progressive rock song with a few heavy and screaming parts. Overall, I'm happy with Josh's vocal contribution to the band - he isn't the best vocalist in the business, but he is solid.
As a sample of the vocals from the album, here are some from the track "Mercy": "Fall from the darkness/ and swallow a choking breath/ winds howl and scream/ and tear the scorched earth/ Scatter the ashes/ lower the casket/ forever in turmoil/ buried beneath the broken soil/ Cast me into desolation/ I'll find my path again/ torn into pieces/ yet each step guides me back/ the fires are built/ and promise a change that will be repaid/ there was no mercy for you or I/ so the earth will be set ablaze/ Blood for blood/ surrender or don't/ but forgiveness is a lie to behold." The vocals are solid enough, but I could do with a little more substance. This isn't an attack on Sylosis, but rather on the extreme metal genres in general - it seems like it is an easy out to throw around works like "broken," "desolation," "blood" and "lie" and call it lyrics.
Overall Impression — 8
I hadn't had a lot of experience with Sylosis before listening to "Dormant Heart," but I went back and listened to some of their back catalog and listened up to this current release, and I have to give them props for growing as musicians and songwriters. They very loosely remind me of Opeth, though earlier in their personal journey. What I like about the band, and it seems like they're getting better at it, is that they're perfectly willing to create something a little bit unusual by combining the genres that influenced them. The most evident influences are definitely death metal, black metal and thrash metal, but you can also hear original classic metal riffs and progressive rock elements, and some interesting use of melody. I definitely enjoyed this album, and I'm looking to see how this band evolves with future releases.