Released: 2012, Nuclear Blast Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Somewhere between the rethrash revivalists and the tech-metal adventurists lies England’s Sylosis. Their mix of old-school aggression and new-school dexterity largely captures the best of both worlds, without straying too far into either. Thus they are, for the most part, able to pull off something like Monolith, a concept album — here steeped in Greek mythology — that doesn’t really feel like a “concept album.”
Certainly, there is some bloat — though not the rote connective tissue and frilly window dressing that typically bog down conceptual efforts, just the usual “70 minutes worth of material when 45 would suffice” extra baggage many bands are guilty of. And 10 minutes of that “excess” is utter silence — a maddening void that needlessly separates the beginning and end of the otherwise dynamite 19-minute closer “Enshrined.” What a waste.
But peel back some of the flab and Monolith has a rock-solid core of bracing speed/thrash metal that sounds a bit like Lamb of God meets Ride The Lightning-era Metallica — for a lazy comparison. Big, crunching riffs, frantic tempos countered by beefy slow parts and the occasional mellow aside, and a grizzly bear of a singer in Josh Middleton, who pulls double duty as lead guitarist, make for a potent mix.
The performances all around here are top-notch — Middleton’s soloing, which offers equal parts flash and finesse, is especially good. And the songs all sound as if they can stand on their own, not anchored to the main theme by any other common thread than the storyline itself. If only there were a few fewer of them. A tidier Monolith could have been amazing. As it is, it’s still pretty rad.