I remember sneaking into my brother’s room when he was in college, artfully dodging his stacks of textbooks and finding his brown, pleather CD case and stealing the Megadeth, Metallica, and Slayer albums from it, ignoring the Joy Divison, INXS, and Duran Duran in favor of these bands thrashy assaults on my young senses. Sylosis’s Monolith brought that memory back today as I listened to the album for the fourth time. As no real moments stood out to me on this album, I’m not going to go into a song by song basis with this review.
This is modern thrash metal, period. There is little discussion with this fact. The sound and feel of the album is intense and raw, conjoining a death metal voice to the riffing. In the case of this album, this is not a bad thing as it is damn solid thrash metal. However, as Monolith is so genre specific, you can feel the limitations of the sound in general: where’s the bass; did most of the songs on the album need at least two face melting solos?
Nearly every song (eight of the eleven) begins soft before exploding into some of the best riffs that Metallica never wrote and takes you through an intense ride of jarring riffs, solos that make you exclaim the greatness of the instrumentalists, and both of which are accentuated by the vocalist’s quality death growls. Yet, the rhythm section (meaning the drums only because I couldn’t hear the bass) makes the band. This performance on this album is one of the best I’ve heard all year and really helps control the flow of the music, especially when the band hits into Melodic Death Metal interludes and into the smooth Opeth like sections.
The persistent thrashing riffs become monotonous after a while though and by the fifth song of the album, I was asking for more moments where I could take a deep breath and think. Some sections in the song offer a spacey feel and pull away from the incessant riffing, allowing for brief moments of respite. By the album’s eighth song, I wrote in my notes for this post the titles of Metallica songs of which these reminded me. For example, the song “Dying Vine” brought to mind “Blackened,” while the plodding rhythm of the thrash riffing of “All is Not Well” reminded me of “Sad, But True” with melodic death metal elements. The tenth song of the album feels very Gojira like with its muddled, stomping, brutal riffing that in conjunction with the wonderful drums creates a rapid-fire feel.
I enjoyed the hidden track as well that is primarily acoustic guitar with piano and clean singing. It offered a more atmospheric sound and served well as a view at the band’s calmer side.
In general, this album is not at all forward thinking. It is intense, brutal thrash in the vein of Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Venom, Bathory, and other early metal bands. It carries none of the progression brought to the table by Iced Earth and Blind Guardian that wed power metal to thrash in crafting their sound; however, Sylosis obviously would do this through melodic death metal. The guitar solos are wonderful, the lyrics are well written, and did I mention that I’m smitten by the drumming? Overall, now that I know of Sylosis, I’ll check in with them again on their next release, but I’ll fully be expecting more of a punch in the mouth than a thoughtful listening experience as it feels like something I would have stolen from my brother in 1989.
(I would have posted a stream, but I couldn’t find an available one).