“Dormant Heart” is the 5th album from Reading based four-piece Sylosis. With a heady mix of Melodic Death Metal and modern Thrash, Sylosis are one of the acts to keep an eye on every year in and out. This is for their off-beat concept albums, adherence to the musical beautification of the niche of music they play and killing it live better than the main acts no matter what festival they play, and where they play. “Dormant Heart” saw its release this January 9th and is the first of many stellar albums scheduled to release in the first quarter of the New Year.
The main end-all be-all for any Sylosis song lies in the riffs. Being the common ground for both Melodic Death metal as well as Thrash metal, this works out in favor of the band, who churn out one blood-curdling riff after another. The track “To Build a Tomb” would describe this attribute the best, given how there are at least 5 catchy ones on that track alone. The melodic factor in the track is born from the time-tested guitar melodies the band interweaves the aggressive riffs with and also from the dynamic shifts between guitarist/vocalist Josh Middleton’s work on the mic. The appropriate incorporation of atmospherics also lends a charm to the work, as heard on the track “Leech”. The atmospherics also play a dominant role in the album with upholding the melodic edge. Be it the ominous atmosphere or the arpeggiated acoustics or the expertly delivered clean vocals from Josh Middleton on “Quiescent”, the chiaroscuro of aggression and melody is deftly pulled off by the four piece again.
However, the horrible gut feeling that looms around “Dormant Heart” when I listen to it is the fact that it sounds like a tiny step back, given the overall quality of their last two albums; more accurate as a rehash of the template they have been following since the departure of Jamie Graham (Heart of a Coward). “Dormant Heart” has only a fraction of the amalgamation of aggression and technicality on “Monolith” and only about two-fifths of the musical freshness that was present on “Edge of the Earth” in spades: There is barely a solo or basic lead run on “Edge of the Earth” that longtime fans of the album like myself will not be able to recall; that’s what, it was memorable! Which is not to say “Dormant Heart” is absolutely unworthy to be part of Sylosis’s body of works. It is just that this is probably the 15th time I’m replaying the album and it still doesn’t give me the kind of chill that “Empyreal” or “Kingdom of Solitude” gave me, sticking around in my head ever since.
“Dormant Heart” does possess plenty of merits to hold on its own though. Building on Sylosis’ signature modern Thrash chugs and Josh Middleton’s vocals “Harm” and “Mercy” could very well be the anthems on whose shoulder “Dormant Heart” rides into playlists of their fans, old and new alike. Even though they are five albums old already, Sylosis by age of its members is pretty nascent a band as any. Which obviously means there is another 5 solid records left in this band to cement them as an icon of a flag-bearer for this tasteful concoction of Melodic Death and modern Thrash metal, which is uniquely Sylosis just by the sound of it.
“Dormant Heart” earns full marks for the grade of production. That is one criteria that the album checks out on by the time the 2nd track “Victims and Pawns” finishes. Given Josh Middleton’s raspy mid-low range vocal fries and screeches, it feels like there are a couple of tracks where the vocals are a notch or two lower than they should be in the mix. But that apart “Dormant Heart” sounds clean and crisp.
“Dormant Heart” might be a mix and match of hits such as “Servitude”, and the first single “Mercy” and misses [read tracks that could have any day culminated into something bigger if they were on”Monolith” or “Edge of the Earth”] such as “Indoctrinated”, but it documents the gradient of progress in the band’s sound with the passing of time. Sure I loved “Monolith” and loved “Edge of the Earth” even more, but that only means that the four piece is trying to do something different now and are half there; when it is a band like Sylosis, you can be pretty sure that the next album is going to be something that beats the grandiosity of the rest of the predecessors with hands tied behinds its back.