Sisyphean Conscience

Malignant Transformation

review published: 11/28/2014


Sisyphean Conscience is a four-piece band from Portland, OR. Their debut full length, Malignant Transformation is a rather impressive display of the more technical ("djent-ier", if you will) end of the metalcore spectrum.

All of the standard ingredients are there: the staccato palm muted chugs, the groovy Meshuggah-esque riffing and blast beats galore. But what's so intriguing is that these fellows do it without the cheese.

"Banished" is a nice little instrumental intro that serves well to establish the general vibe of the record, but things really pick up on the second track, "Accidental Death & Dismemberment." The band's technical skill is on exhibit early. In fact, this record is actually front loaded with its more technical moments. The drumming is excellent and the guitar playing is on par with anyone else in the genre. Think of the heavier moments of Periphery and you'll have a decent idea of what Sisyphean Conscience are going for.

Tracks like "Fallacies" and "Empty Threats" provide plenty of brutal headbanging moments with the former offering perhaps the heaviest moments of the record, but the first portion of Malignant Transformation hits its peak with the fourth track, "Claptrack." This song is full of groovy riffs and pinched harmonic accents. As far as actual songwriting is concerned, this may be the strongest track; it does offer the most memorable riffs on the record. The thing is, all of these songs flow together evenly, but never develop into something other than a collection of neat parts. That is my main issue with this record; it never really offers you a truly infectious moment to enhance this record's replay value.

Halfway through the record, Sisyphean Conscience show that they have a melodic side as well and, surprisingly, it's some of their best material. Tracks "Triumph" and "Marauder" show a greater appreciation for melody, relying more on lead guitar harmonies and more conventional rhythmic patterns. These tracks trade in the brute force for something a little easier to digest. They are a little more catchy without ever straying to the point of being the same old tired metal chorus. This is due in part to the absence of the clean vocals and the goofy synth arrangements that are often associated with this style of music.

The production on Malignant Transformation is very clean. The guitar tones sound great and the vocals are mixed in at the right volume, where they are present but not overpowering. The vocalist offers nothing new or outstanding but is more than serviceable, contributing a wide array of styles from low end growls to high end shrieks and everything in between. The drums are insanely slick, and almost to a fault. They are too high in the mix and so overproduced they come off sounding programmed at times. That may actually be an odd compliment to the actual performance of the drummer.

Things draw to a conclusion with the most "djent-y" songs of the group. "Onus" features a guest vocalist that really offers no interesting change in the vocal dynamic. Unless a person brings a unique sound, I find that these guest spots are often unnecessary and sound forced. The title track, however, provides some more interesting sections. It starts with a delayed clean guitar track that carries over, buried underneath the heavier section that follows. This creates a really good atmosphere that leads into the song's heavier moments. There are plenty of well written lead guitar parts as this song seems to draw upon a little of everything that the band has done to this point. This is an excellent way to close the record.

Bottom Line: I see no reason why Sisyphean Conscience wouldn't fit right in on a label like Sumerian Records. This style of music is obviously popular and these guys pull it off without the gimmicks. I won't be surprised when they are out there touring with the genres heavy hitters in the near future.

Track Listing: 01. Banished 02. Accidental Death & Dismemberment 03. Fallacies 04. Claptrap 05. Empty Threats 06. Triumph 07. Marauder 08. Onus 09. Malignant Transformation