Written by: TL on 16/10/2016 13:19:54

For some time now there's been hints sneaking into contemporary metalcore music, that many active band members these years likely grew up listening to the nu-metal wave of the late nineties and early zeroes, such as Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, Deftones and KoRn. One band to make this even more overt, however, is Sylar from Queens, New York, whose new album "Help!" goes even further into rap-metal territory, by taking your usual chugtastic clean/scream music and adding in Shinoda/Bennington-style rap/sing dynamics and an intentionally dark and brooding atmosphere, similar to KoRn, even with record scratching thrown in for style points.

The result falls somewhere between the contemporaries of smooth and catchy r&b-metallers Issues and the gritty, frustrated sound of The Plot In You, and while the lyricism on display isn't exactly high-minded and complex, the way the nu-metal style is updated to 2016 isn't without likeable qualities. The rapping has the inflammatory controversial attitude to it, the music is both groovy and punch-the-air heavy in sort of a rollicking way, and the clean singing is in the better end of what metalcore generally offers. The whole concept is most perfectly displayed in the contrastful single "Assume", where the dreamy chorus melody sticks like super glue, and in the almost as infectious "Soul Addiction", which dials the rapping back a bit but shows off some nice synth work and generally aligns a lot with what makes Issues good as well.

Generally, the album gets off to a solid start, keeping your head bopping similarly to that annoying yet telling way you can't quite keep from doing it to Limp Bizkit songs. Yet unfortunately, as you listen on into the second half, the band's vocal dynamic and general songwriting do start to get a bit repetitive. There's not a great deal of tempo variation, and the leaps up to the melodic choruses start to sound eerily similar on some of the less distinct tracks, making it feel like the band is quite locked in the way they've made their combination of styles work. "Pleasure Paradise" is a nice exception late on the record, though, being less emo and committing more to the brash hip-hop attitude, while bringing in a softer rap counterpart in the bridge, opposed to the otherwise forcefully spit out lines.

Overall, the mix of otherwise much-debated styles is very modern and bold, which makes the album an interesting listen, and the catchier songs stick with you in that kind of "low taste be damned" sort of way. Sylar just still face an all too common challenge among metalcore bands in general: Namely, that they need to avoid becoming a one-trick pony in the songwriting department, or it'll soon feel like they're copy-pasting heavy-soup around recycled, surging, clean choruses. If they can keep working more nuances in as they move forward, however, they'll be interesting to follow.


Download: Assume; Soul Addiction; My, Myself, & I
For The Fans Of: Issues, The Plot In You, Linkin Park, KoRn, P.O.D

Release date 26.08.2016
Hopeless Records

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