Cycle Of Suffering

When the UK’s  Sylosis released the single “I Sever” at the end of 2019, followed shortly by an official album announcement, I was torn. On the one hand, the song is fantastic – thrashy, epic, and heavy. On the other hand, these are all terms I’d use to describe most Sylosis songs. “I Sever” seemed to be a formulaic, paint-by-numbers Sylosis song (albeit a good one). I was worried that after a 5 year absence since Dormant Heart, Josh Middleton and co would be playing it safe.

After listening to the album non-stop since its release, it’s clear that while Sylosis aren’t necessarily playing it safe, they have certainly found a formula that works for them. This is clearly a Sylosis album, but the record has sprinklings of evolution throughout.

Their classic influences are still scattered throughout the album – the Metallica-esque galloping on the aforementioned “I Sever”, the Death inspired lead melody on second single “Calcified”, and the Pantera like riffing on “Apex of Disdain”.

But throughout the album, new influences rear their heads. There’s a distinct Gojira flavour running through it. The outro to “Arms Like a Noose” could easily appear on From Mars to Sirius, and the chorus to “Calcified” has an infectious tapped riff that seems a homage to the Duplantier style of riff writing. Josh Middleton also seems to have truly embraced the writing style of his other band, Architects. This is clear on riffs like the one at around 1:00 of opener “Empty Prophets”. If you tuned this riff down to F#, it would be at home on any Architects album. After years of sticking to thrash metal tuned to E standard, it’s refreshing to hear a Sylosis album that leans more on the heavy side than the thrashy side. And it’s in D standard too – I never thought I’d see the day!

I’m a sucker for emotionally draining lyrics, and this album has them in spades. On first listen, I lost count of how many times I listened to “Empty Prophets”, just to hear the lyrics “And in the end, all it comes down to, we wanna hear a voice echoing our own, something to take our minds off our empty lives, to know we’re not really all alone.” Josh Middleton has said that he’s suffered with depression, and it’s clear from lyrics like this that he’s used his struggles to fuel his creativity. Other less favourable songs on the album are clearly a platform for Josh to speak his beliefs. “Devils In Their Eyes” is an obvious call to arms for vegans everywhere.

It’s clear from “Cycle of Suffering” that Sylosis are a different band to the one that went on hiatus 5 years ago. They have a renewed vigour, and they are at the top of their game when it comes to songwriting. Long, thrashy epics and been replaced with to-the-point riff filled songs, whilst still retaining the epicness that makes them special. The album is all the better for it.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Pat Hughes
April 10th, 2020


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