Album Review: Sylar – Help!

Album Review: Sylar – Help!

Band: Sylar
Album: Help!
Date Of Release: 26/08/2016
Label: Hopeless Records
Genre: Metalcore/Nu-metal
Location: Queens, NY
Reviewer: Alex “keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’” Sievers
For Fans Of: Any and all things nu-metal.

Track Listing:

1. Help!
2. Soul Addiction
3. Assume
4. Me, Myself, & I
5. Doubting Out
6. Dark Daze
7. South Street Lullaby
8. I Know, You Know, I Know
9. Gambit Rogue Delight
10. Pleasure Paradise
11. Maintain Closure

I’ve never once cared for guilty pleasures. Thus, I’ll gladly raise my hand when they start reading out names for the great culling of nu-metal fans via lobotomy. Linkin Park, Korn, Deftones, System Of A Down, Slipknot, Limp Bizkit, and Disturbed – I love those bands, and nostalgia be damned, I still do. I’m not at all embarrassed to admit it. After all, if you’re embarrassed to openly admit you enjoy something, I feel that’s a telling sign you’re battling with some insecurity about how much you actually enjoy said thing. But we’re here to talk about Sylar’s new album Help!, not your insecurities.

Sylar is one of many bands riding out nu-metal’s resurgence, of which is bound to end within the next 18 months (calling it now). However, the scene’s quickly approaching critical mass of this sound, and that means a host of severely average bands flooding in. For instance, From Ashes To New, Cane Hill, Gift Giver, & Darke Complex. As for Sylar, I wouldn’t count them among those aforementioned bands. While not original, they’ve got the chops to potentially outlive this returning trend, and keep their heads above the waters of forgettable background music and mere nostalgia value.

Help! is not a bad record – not in the slightest – but it’s probably not going to make many AOTY lists. ‘Soul Addiction’, ‘Dark Daze’, and ‘Assume’ really are Sylar’s bread and butter — metalcore riffs that go harder than you mum at a buffet, somewhat cringy angst-filled, cathartic lyrics, and a dual vocal style of harsh rapping/screaming and soaring, warm cleans. Also, there’s a fair amount of synth, sampling, and vinyl scratching here, because of course there fucking is! But despite living up to the sonic expectations, these are all decent tunes nonetheless.

However, it’s the emotional ‘I Know, You Know, I Know’, the slower, darker, ‘Maintain Closure’, and the punchy flow of ‘South Street Lullaby’ which provide the record’s high points. That trio are easily the diamonds in the solid, but average rough.

Now, Help! is definitely akin to their debut, To Whom It May Concern, except here the screws have been further tightened. For one, this record’s mix is far crisper than its predecessor, which leads credence to the clean vocals, for instance, having so much more impact. The band’s thankfully done away with the interlude tracks of old as well as those distorted, pitch shifted vocals which littered their debut. The guitars and bass both land with real weight and grit and the guitars especially feel so “full”, which is for the better. The rhythm section’s grooves are simple but of course snappy and very, very tight (something would be amiss if they weren’t). Plus, the quintet also do a decent job of balancing out their songs with massive choruses and heavier verses: the light and the shade of their music respectively.

However, I’m inclined to lean towards one side in particular, and that’s the band’s lighter, “poppy” elements.

See, I don’t normally prefer clean singing when it comes to bands of this ilk. They’re usually competent and delivered well, but I never find myself that drawn to the clean singing. Usually, overuse of pitch correction, vocal layering, and FX can muddle a singer’s own idiosyncrasies, which isn’t necessarily the case here. The clean vocals, courtesy of guitarist Miguel Cardona, are so consistent, more so than Jayden Panesso’s rapped vocals and screams (who definitely isn’t a bad vocalist by any means). Look to songs like ‘Maintain Closure’, ‘Assume’, ‘Soul Addiction’, and ‘I Know, You Know, I Know’ as some fine examples. Although, I must admit that if things were reversed and the cleans were the predominant vocal presence, with only a handful of screaming or rapping, I’d probably prefer the latter instead. Just something to think about.

Once again, this style is being beaten to fucking death once more and Sylar are just one of many bands with this particular sound. For how long will this last? Well, that’s anybody’s guess, really. Again, my bet is on 18 months until this dies out. Well, that’s until the next wave of nu-metal inspired artists come through. But to wrap up, I’m going to quote Jarrod Alonge about Sylar’s music, that this band is “Issues + Sworn In + Hacktivist.” To again quote Mr Alonge, Sylar are “not too bad”. Yeah, that’ll do it.

Vocals: 7/10
Lyrics: Angst/10
Guitar: 8/10
Bass: 7/10
Percussion: 7/10
Songwriting: 7/10
Production: 8/10
Personal Enjoyment: 7/10
Overall IPHYB Rating: 7/10

Standout Tracks: ‘South Street Lullaby’, ‘Maintain Closure’

Album Review: Sylar – Help!
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