By Andrew Bansal
UK-based modern thrashers Sylosis put out their massive sophomore effort “Edge Of The Earth” last year, and they’ve taken a mere 18 months to come up with the follow-up. Their third studio album “Monolith” was released on October 5th in UK & Europe, and October 9th in North America via Nuclear Blast Records. To promote the album, the band is now preparing to head out on the road, supporting Lamb Of God on an extensive US tour, from October 30th to December 16th. Earlier today, on October 10th 2012, I caught up with guitarist/vocalist Josh Middleton to talk about the album, the upcoming tour, and a few other things. Read our conversation below, and visit the Sylosis facebook page for album info and tour dates.
Your third album “Monolith” was released in the US just yesterday, but has been out for a few days in UK & Europe. What’s the response been like from your friends and fans in those parts?
Really good! It’s the best response we’ve had, and I think from the sales point of view it’s the best selling album just looking at the first few days. The feedback from the fans and press is beyond what we expected.
It was released for streaming a week earlier than the US release date. I don’t really like that, to be honest. It kind of takes away from the excitement of the release to put your whole album out there. Why do you think people do it these days? Is it necessary to put out the whole album for fans to be interested in buying it?
I didn’t even know that the album stream was happening until someone told me. So it was definitely wasn’t the band’s idea. I’m kind of the same as you. I like to wait, and me personally I still like buying CDs. I like to go to the store, pick up a copy, walk home with it. That’s the ritual. But I guess people these days need to hear the whole album to make up their minds. Money is tight everywhere, so people want to hear it before they buy it, I guess.
Yeah, ideally I would like to listen to one or two songs before the album’s release.
Yeah, I’m the same!
Musically, how would you compare it to the previous album “Edge Of The Earth”? I think that album was a pretty massive effort from you. It was a 72-minute album and you did a couple of instrumentals, and you did vocals for the first time.
I think “Monolith” is more focused. We didn’t put that much material on it. I mean, the disc itself is about a couple of minutes shorter, but that’s only because there’s a bunch of silence and a hidden track at the end, which some people don’t really understand. So many bands have done that for a long time, but the younger fans are going, ‘Why the hell is there so much of silence?’ But yeah, it’s just more focused, and the songs are a bit more to-the-point. We just wanted to really create an atmosphere for this one, something that’s a bit more dark and eerie and sinister, and just give the album more of a unique feel.
So, why is the silent portion included in the final track?
Well, it was my idea. Back in the day, bands used to do it all the time. To me, the album ends with the 11th track “Enshrined”, and then there’s a hidden track. It’s like a secret bonus thing. When I was growing up, every band used to do it. Back in those days my old CD player didn’t have numbers, so you wouldn’t know where you are in the song and you’d just fast-forward to see if there was anything after the final track. I think the majority of the CDs I listened to in the late 90s always had some kind of hidden track or something at the end that would take you by surprise if you fall asleep with it on or something (laughs). So I just thought it’d be cool to do it on our album. But I guess a lot of people don’t know about the hidden tracks and it confuses people for some reason (laughs).
In terms of the vocals, did you find this album easier to record. You did your first time on the last album and I think this time you must have felt more used to it.
Yeah, exactly. I’ve been doing it now for two years, just touring and getting used to vocals, breathing and wearing my voice in a bit. This time the recording was really quick. It was like 3 or 4 days of vocal tracking, which is quite short for a whole album, specially for an album that’s still long by most people’s standards. But yeah, this time I just pushed myself a bit more, and could get it down quicker.
You have a US tour coming up soon, with Lamb Of God. It must be exciting to be touring with a band like that, specially for a proper, extensive US tour.
Yeah, exactly. Chris Adler has been a fan of the band for a few years now, and we did some shows with Lamb Of God over in Ireland. He watched us both nights, stayed in touch and just emailed me saying ‘I’m going to try and get you on our next US tour!’ And I said, ‘Wow, that would be cool but I won’t hold my breath.’ But he did! He got us on the tour, and it’s the best tour we could have hoped for, really.
I was going to ask you about Chris Adler. He’s been singing high praise for your band for a while. What was your reaction when you found out about that, and when he said he’ll put you on the Lamb Of God tour?
Yeah, it was absolutely crazy. I’ve always kind of known that he’s one of the nicest dudes in heavy music. I remember meeting him at a festival over here six or seven years ago, and him hanging out with me and my friend and being really cool. But it was still surreal that it went that far, that he wasn’t just being polite. He was genuinely into the band. So, it’s huge for us. We’ve all been fans of Lamb Of God from the start. I had to pre-order or get import copies of ‘New American Gospel’ when I was a kid. So yeah, it’s insane, and that’s why we couldn’t have a better tour lined up than this one!
Exactly, man. He has described you as modern speed metal, and some other people have also given that label to you. What do you think about that? Does that kind of limit you in a way in which you’d have to keep up to that label on future albums?
I kind of like it, to be honest. I think we’ll always have fast and thrash aspects. If people call us speed metal or thrash or anything like that, it’s fine by me. I’d rather get called that than being called metalcore. I guess people look at bands that are young and don’t have long hair, and like to call them metalcore bands (laughs).
The metalcore term has become a pretty big negative these days. Nobody likes to be called metalcore. I think it just represents bad music, so I’m glad people aren’t calling you that.
Coming back to the tour, what can the US folks expect from you in terms of the set length. I guess you’ll be one of the opening acts so I don’t imagine you’d be getting a long set.
Yeah, it will be something like 25-30 minutes on average. It’s fine for us, because if we’re on tour for 2 months doing long sets, it would be exhausting (laughs). We’re just going to try and mix it up as much as possible, play 2 or 3 new songs and then some old ‘classics’.
So, would you say doing such tours as opening act is more fun for you? You don’t play long sets and the audiences aren’t really expecting too much from you because most of them don’t know you.
Yeah, exactly. Like you said, sometimes they don’t expect so much, so we can just go out there and win new fans over, and get people really excited. It’s just fun when we support other bands because that means we get to play much bigger venues. We enjoy playing to any kind of crowd in any size of venue, but it’s fun to do the big venues. I think on this Lamb Of God tour they are deliberately doing some shows in smaller venues, but at least one of them is like a 4000-capacity. So, it’s going to be awesome.
Other than that, what tours do you have lined up? Do you have any headline gigs in the UK or anything like that?
Yeah, we have a headline tour in January which is like 5 shows because that’s how big the UK is, and then we have the Soundwave Festival in Australia, which is like a touring festival over there, with bands like Metallica and Slayer, and that’ll be our first time in Australia as well. That’s kind of all we have planned for now.