Sylosis – Live Review – Islington Assembly Hall 2020

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RockmusicRaider - Sylosis - Live Concert - Islington Assembly Hall - 2020
Credit: Sarah Maiden Photography

Discovering new music that deeply connects with you becomes rarer as you get older. At least for me.

When I was a teenager, discovering my love for rock/metal was effectively the first steps in becoming the person I am. That’s what being a teenager is about. Discovery.

So it sort of makes sense when you hit your late 20’s that you don’t fall in love with bands as hard as you used to, as your sense of self is far more developed. In theory. But I’m no psychology expert. I’ve just learnt myself that I haven’t had that sort of connection to a band since my anger-fuelled teenage years.

Well, that was until 2018. Until I discovered Sylosis.

I checked out Teras on YouTube and something just clicked immediately. A feeling I once thought I’d never experience again. It felt like a piece of the puzzle that was missing has finally been located, without even knowing that it was not there in the first place.

Through the rest of that year and most of 2019, I was obsessed with this band. I rarely listened to anyone else. I felt compelled to see them live at least once before the curtain called time on my existence.

It was then that I discovered Josh Middleton, their lead singer and guitarist, had joined Architects, and Sylosis were on an indefinite hiatus.

Had the Sylosis ship already sailed before I’d even had a chance to get my ticket?

Months I waited. Patiently, for news of a triumphant return. I started to lose hope. But then, in my maniacal stalking of Josh Middleton’s YouTube channel, one day I saw he had replied to one of many comments asking if Sylosis were ever coming back.

It was a recurring theme on his channel and I’m surprised he didn’t lose his shit about it at one stage. Imagine how annoying it must be to be constantly bombarded with the same questions every time you upload a video?

But this time he confirmed Sylosis were working on an album. I lost my mind. Yes! I will hear some more of this band, and there was a good chance I’d get to see them live! Hooray!

Fast forward to 2020.

Sylosis drop a new album called Cycle of Suffering and announce a special, one-off comeback show at Islington Assembly Hall. Boom, here we go. This is it.

Islington Assembly Hall was a new venue for me. An old-looking building annexed by Islington Town Hall, it seemed more like a venue for AGM’s rather than a thrash metal concert.

Alas, the venue was irrelevant. Sylosis could have played in a shed and it wouldn’t have bothered me. They’re that good they could probably do it.

As I took my front-row balcony seat I couldn’t wait for proceedings to begin. Although the wait for the first band was about an hour after the doors opened, which was mildly annoying.

Nevertheless, just one support act was on the bill, Dyscarnate, which were very good. They played a style of metal that was both groovy and heavy. A thrashy metalcore hybrid sound. They commanded a confident stage presence, not inhibited by the magnitude of the occasion.

Dyscarnate warmed the crowd up competently. A few bursts of moshing emerged in the centre of the fan horde during the breakdowns and chuggy segments. The fans on the periphery of the venue bobbing their heads mildly to the beat.

The stage was set, the crowd had warmed up their neck muscles, we were ready to go.

Sylosis emerged not long after the support act and came out to a crowd that was singing the melody to one of their new singles I Sever, as it was being played over the PA.

Sylosis ripped through a catalogue of great songs with surgery-like precision. The band started out playing their newer stuff, I Sever, which was followed by Calcified before the band started playing some of their classics. Such as Teras, Altered State of Consciousness and Fear The World.

The setlist seemed to heavily feature tracks from their first two albums, which I found quite surprising. Some of these songs weren’t their most popular tracks, such as Sands of Time or Servitude (which is one of my favourite songs of theirs). So it was good of them to play the deeper cuts that the hardcore Sylosis fans thrive upon.

There are a handful of songs I would’ve taken out and replaced with others. But there’s no such thing as a perfect setlist for everybody. I certainly felt To Build A Tomb and Mercy deserved a runout, but it wasn’t to be.

If you are unfamiliar with Sylosis, then you would not know that their stage presence is fairly understated and features minimum crowd interaction. However, their new bassist breaks the mould in this sense. His relentless headbanging and commanding presence somewhat overshadowed Josh Middleton’s reserved nature.

Perhaps even more so due to the fact that he announced near the end of the show, he had been really nervous prior to the concert and still was. Refreshingly honest and humble to say so. And also understandable. Being away for the best part of 4 years and coming back, there is a lot of pressure to nail your comeback show.

And they very much did that.

The band’s performance was impeccably tight. Despite the fact, Josh Middleton has been used to playing with other musicians in a different band – Architects – for some time now. It was as if they had never been away.

The setlist was fairly short, the band were only on stage for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Which was good for me as it meant there were no late-night trains to frantically catch. But for others, it may have left them feeling slightly short-changed. But they did get through 14 songs, so maybe that criticism is slightly unjustified.

The crowd itself was a little disappointing though.

Yeah, moshpits were present and walls of death, too. But I didn’t detect the energy I expected for a comeback show. It kinda left me looking around to see if anyone looked as excited and elated as I was on the inside. And there were a few. Yet, barely any singing could be heard. It all felt too polite and civilised for a metal show. However it was a Thursday night, so maybe that played its part.

Regardless of those minor indiscretions, this was a triumphant return for Sylosis. Their chops were tremendous, putting on a high-quality show to announce their eagerly anticipated comeback. The new bassist is a stellar addition to the band. A competent musician, but also a great performer.

Taking on the responsibility of geeing up the crowd so nobody else has to. The setlist was decent enough, although they left out a few bangers. But Sylosis have so many good songs, there are always going to be some that you wish were played but weren’t. The supporting act Dyscarnate were a solid opener, and generally well-received by this somewhat tame audience.

I’m sure any fan of Sylosis out there reading this would agree, it’s great to have them back.

Ed’s note: The author used to write for Abrasive Noise! Also, check Ghost – Live at Wembley Arena.

Live Venue: Islington Assembly Hall, London, UK | Date: 13 Feb 2020
LabelNuclear Blast | Web: Official Band Site