You know that old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? It’s an inevitability in music; bands will try to experiment with their sound, use new production techniques, write something completely different than they have before. There may not be a band more appropriately associated with that idiom than Sylosis, especially when considering their newest work, A Sign of Things To Come. Sometimes change can be a good thing and a little variety can go a long way, though in this case the changes Sylosis chose to implement may have had an undesirable effect.
Let’s address the elephant in the room first; It seems fairly evident that Josh Middleton’s still likely suffering due to a hangover from his time in Architects. Some people might listen to A Sign of Things to Come and think the abundantly choppy breakdown parts, the down tuned guitars, and the electronic pads/synths are obviously influenced from his time in the band, or were they conscious decisions to showcase more of a modern metalcore sound to appeal to a wider audience? Either way you look at it the shadow that’s been cast over Syolsis looms large.
The “modern” elements of their sound on the new album sort of come off as suspect or disingenuous when you look back at the rest of Sylosis’ discography and consider Josh’s involvement with Architects. There were plenty of metalcore motifs throughout their earlier releases, but the thrashier elements seem to hit less impactfully on A Sign of Things To Come. Focusing on all the newer sounds, it’s easy to miss some of the more familiar Sylosis moments throughout the record. “Judas” seems to be the best example of what one might call a “classic” track for them as it blends speed, technicality, an absurdly well-written solo, and brilliantly orchestrated hooks. There are other standout moments from the record, that make you wish there were more like them though; “Descent” hits as hard as the band can muster and “Poison for the Lost” is overflowing with intensity and energy, reminiscent of the Sylosis of old.
After considering all that, it’s an admirable quality in people who are willing to try new things and not be afraid of change and A Sign of Things To Come easily showcases the bands efforts to do just that, however flawed those changes may be. “Absent” may be the clearest showing of this as it’s as close as we’ll get to a ballad on a Sylosis record. The guitars, the clean vocal parts, and sampled percussion all fail to add up to much. It just falls flat, especially when compared to their earlier work. The more experimental flourishes on albums like: Cycle of Suffering, Edge of the Earth, Dormant Heart, and Monolith just fit better. On these four records, they just simply blended thrash riffs, lush ambient parts, and heavy grooves more cohesively.
Bottom Line: There are moments on this record that will immediately have you headbanging, moments that will grab hold of your attention and not let go. But you might wonder if the seeds of change for Sylosis were sewn before/during the recording of Cycle of Suffering, but they hadn’t grown into anything substantial yet at the time. A Sign of Things To Come is the result of a band “fixing” what they had built up over a great discography and in the end breaking it into pieces.