Today on the block we have Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes by Australian Stoner Doom band Fumarole, out now from the excellent Interstellar Smoke Records. I’ve heard a couple of their singles and dug what I heard, so I was definitely stoked to get the album in hand. Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes starts off pedal down and never really lets up. Loaded with hooky as hell riffage, driving rhythms, and killer spots where the bass and drums lay down the groove while the guitar has its fun. The solos are tasty, they have a rock feel sprinkled with some blues that truly add to the overall vibe.
So, Cycle of Suffering (Nuclear Blast) is Sylosis‘ post-hiatus album? Considering how tight the musicianship is and the sense of urgency you could’ve told me that this was released six months after Dormant Heart, and I would’ve bought the lie hook, line, and sinker. For a band that just reformed last year and have worked their way through various personnel changes, this is some remarkable shit. Continue reading
We spend a lot of time talking about Machine Head around HQ, and rightly so. They are one of the most influential bands in metal, specifically their very early years 1994 -1997 and their fertile middle era 2003 – 2011. It all started with the granddaddy of them all, Burn My Eyes (Roadrunner Records). Not only was this album a banger right from the get-go, but Machine Head became one of the preeminent bands throughout the 1990s on Roadrunner, along with Type O Negative, Sepultura, and Biohazard. We’re not here to go through the entire history of the band which has done a bit before but instead call attention to the highlights of this album and why it still holds up. Continue reading
Once in a while, the art that society needs to help it pull through collective dark times comes along right at the precise time. In another life, that album would have been a new album from a reunited Rage Against The Machine, the legendary rap-rock band. However, what we’ve got instead is the début full-length album from Prophets of Rage, the supergroup with members of Rage, Public Enemy, and Cypress Hill added in for good measure. After an EP and a slew of singles telegraphing the powder keg of potential greatness to come had dropped, the full meal real deal thing is here. Forget about the quarter of the album already released, and the hype train pulling into the station. Prophets of Rage, may not save the world, but they coming out swinging, making damn sure they will try.Continue reading
For me, Sylosis have always made more sense as a live band. Their swirling combo of brutal riffs, intricate solos and breakdowns made perfect sense in the midst of a mosh pit, but on record that intensity is lost, and most of their records end up being enjoyable but lacking the killer spark.
But on their new album, Dormant Heart (Nuclear Blast), the band have finally added the missing element to their sound: killer songwriting. The usual mix of thrash, and melodic death metal with progressive elements have all been retained, but what sets this apart from prior releases is the ambition. The songs are better, the already impressive solos are tighter and the vocals more thought-out.
Where previous albums were pretty much all played at breakneck speed, the band bring down the tempo for much of the album. The likes of opener ‘Where the Wolves Come to Die’, ‘To Build a Tomb’ and second single ‘Leech’ are all slow, deliberate crushers and throughout Dormant Heart, you can hear the band moving on from pure aggression and adding a heavy, almost gloomy atmosphere.
There are still plenty of all-out thrashers though – the likes of ‘Victims and Pawns,’ ‘Indoctrinated’ and ‘Callous Souls’ would have been stand out tracks on any of the previous albums, but the record has far more variety in tempo and style than what’s come before. And of course the solos are breath-taking, it’s always been a strength, but here everything been taken up a notch. Every song features moments of fret-busting brilliance, and it’s hard to pick a standout moment.
As well as stellar music, this is frontman/guitarist Josh Middleton’s best vocal performance by far; the usual deathly growls are present, but he also pushes into clean singing at various points, showing off a side of Sylosis not heard since 2008’s Conclusion of an Age (also Nuclear Blast). On lead single ‘Mercy’ he combines the shred and scream template with a darker melody for the chorus.
The nine-minute closing track ‘Quiescent’ opens with a clean vocals and acoustic guitar, and is so at odds with what you expect from the band that it’s almost enough to question whether you’re still listening to the same band. From there it builds to a heavy and haunting finale.
Since their inception, Sylosis have been one of the brightest hopes for UK metal – few band can combine the fury and hook-laden riffs in the way these Reading boys can. But previous efforts often felt like a collection of awesome riffs and solos with no cohesion. With Dormant Heart, they’re finally starting to cash in on all that potential.