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Thursday, 15 January 2015

Reviews: Sylosis, Neopera, Lacertilla

Sylosis: Dormant Heart (Nuclear Blast)

Four albums into their career and Sylosis are coming of age, with Edge Of The Earth they really showed what they could do with a technical thrash near-masterpiece full of epic songs. They then took this more progressive style and went back to their extreme roots on Monolith. So where do they go now? Well as Where The Wolves Come To Die kicks off with it's slow, heavy riff replete with frenzied drumming the atmosphere is built as it crescendos and dives straight into the rapid death metal of Victims And Pawns which once again shows Sylosis' thrash roots but also their progressive tendencies as it slows in the middle before frontman Josh Middelton solos like demon. One thing that always strikes about Sylosis is just how damn fine their musicianship is; Middleton is both an amazing vocalist and a sublime guitarist ably backed by Alex Bailey's rhythm and the frankly abusive rhythm section of Chris Parnell and Rob Callard (who has since left). Dormant Heart is both heavy and melodic and shows Sylosis' keen ear for melody and also their use of light and shade to colour their works, they blend extreme and the more mainstream effortlessly and on this album with tracks like the thrashtastic Overthrown and Leech which echoes Rob Flynn and co. In fact as this album progresses you can't help but think of how the American acts like Machine Head and Trivium have progressed in their careers moving from straight thrash, through metalcore and then adding more progressive elements to their sound and comparing this trajectory to the one Sylosis are on, they seem to have done similar but in fewer albums, successfully mixing their past and their current more mature form together perfectly. This album is a musical experience with twists and turns throughout, every song gives gives you another facet to Sylosis' sound. Tracks like Indoctrinated move from brutal speed, an uplifting middle section a vicious breakdown and then back again, before being followed by the more 'proper' metal of Harm, the stomping metalcore of Mercy, the emotive Callous Souls before the album ends with the nine minute Quiescent which is a distilled version of everything Sylosis do from textured acoustics to extremity in one song. The two bonus tracks are also good with the atmospheric Pillars Erode which sounds a lot like Stone Sour and a cover of Smashing Pumpkins' Zero. Sylosis have come of age on this record and thoroughly staked their claim as the British equivalent and indeed successors to bands like Machine Head, expect them to reach these lofty heights soon because of this awesome album, produced by producer extraordinaire Scott Atkins, its the album Sylosis have been aiming for since their inception lets hope it translates to the respect and admiration they deserve. A great way to kick off 2015!! 9/10     

Neopera: Destined Ways (earMusic)

There does seem to be a fashion for bands with a trio of vocalists at the moment and Neopera follow that with two male and one female vocalist. Now what does this sound like I hear you ask? Well imagine a mix between Amaranthe, Lacuna Coil and Epica and you wouldn't be far off. This is your normal symphonic metal fodder with orchestrations galore, chugging metallic backing (with Gamma Ray's Henjo Richter providing the solos) and even some electronics thrown in. Add to this the trio of singers, these being a female soprano in the shape of Nina Jiers, Mirko Gluschke's aggressive harsh vocals and Thorsten Schuck's rich, deep baritone. The vocals work together well with all three having great voices and the musicianship is precise and well performed by all involved. However this album is not at all memorable, the songs blend into one and other and much of the music featured on this record has been done many times before. If you are a fan of symphonic metal (and I mean a real hardcore fan) then you may like this album however it didn't really grab my interest at all I'm afraid, it's just all a bit too safe and sounds like one long song towards the end. 5/10    

Lacertilla: Crashing Into The Future (Self Released)

I've seen Lacertilla live a few times now and they are band that get better every time I see them, so having heard these songs in their ear-splittingly loud live form, I was excited to see how it would translate to record, would the frenzied madness and shamanistic grooves still be as effective in the studio. Well as the rampaging riffage of the title track opens this 5-track EP everything looks good. This collection of South Wales based musicians, members come from The Witches' Drum, Throun and Akb'al, play psychedelic, doom laden, space rock; with nods to MC5, Kyuss and especially early Orange Goblin, much of this comes from vocalist Matt Fry who is a dead ringer vocally for Ben Ward with the right mix of anger and spaced out mysticism, luckily he is backed by some top quality musical backing with Carl Richards tub thumping and Neal Palmer's bottom end providing the thick, sludgy groove for tracks like Abstract Reality as well as some dirty funk on Do Something! (which features the now immortal cowbell) The guitar contribution is also great with Lucas Zaluniski and Michael Young-Temple providing riffs that cut like a laser beam through James Bond as well as more intricate melodies and solos. the tracks move and twist as with lost of light and shade and a metric fuck tonne of riffage throughout but also more spacious, blissed out passages like the beginning to the trippy We Are The Flood which also features some tablas from Young-Temple before everything comes together around three minutes in on this musical headtrip before finally turning into the final track Tryin' To Do A Good Thing which is driven by a repetitive all consuming riff that brings the album to a monumental close. This is a great release that really shows off Lacertilla's chops as a band and does give you a sense the bands live power especially when played live. A full album please guys as this is well tidy!!! 8/10  

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