Today, it’s quite safe to say that Metal, thanks to the internet, has exploded (in a good way) and scattered its ashes over the vast expanse of modern music. The increased exposure to the genre is no longer limited to the Global North which has probably resulted in a redoubling of its fanbase. In terms of global reach, metal is mostly a post – millennial phenomenon when it terms of relative popularity. But a larger fanbase equates to a roughly proportional increase in the number of people aspiring the “band” designation, inevitably waylaying all ideals of ingenuity and resorting to its status symbol attachment. As is unavoidable at this juncture is the uncontrollable flux of bands barging open the doors of redundancy. Bands after bands just boot themselves into existence inundated by extremely diluted ideals of individuality and rebellion, while at the same time keeping an eye on the perks they bring . And for this reason it is indeed tough today to get an album that truly moves you like it once did, say even a decade ago. Another factor of equal-but-usually-looked-over-merit is that the Internet has opened up itself to a multitude of opinions from a rapidly expanding user base of the genre, that has hitherto never opinionated and is now free to do so. The resulting in-consolidation of opinion will never elevate an album to a classic status.
I find this one reason why there can be no more Classics, if they are indeed around they’d be lost in the rubble of uninteresting failed records from bigger bands. The underground now remains forever shrouded to the ones who don’t want to challenge their current tastes and chooses to rather recline over comfily in whatever the Big Media spews out. Metal media is not innocent to these very same ideals. Even bands that have settled themselves into the mainstream or have rode their luck on previous successes have fallen victim to the throes of mediocrity forced on them by the demands of relevance and financial security. Especially so the latter. And that is precisely the case of this particular post. The last three albums from bands I usually look up to for a good dose of uncluttered heaviness have roiled themselves in. And yet this is my opinon..
Sylosis – Dormant Heart
Sylosis has forever delved in the no man’s land between Thrash and Metalcore while outright separating themselves from the rest of the core flock through ‘Edge of the Earth’. But that is not to say that there was enough to obviate their sterling debut. Those gate crashing riffs alternating with segments that transport you to the ethereal were a mainstream novelty, which Sylosis made use of to resounding effect. Both their stomping debut and their more modern sounding sophomore effort were albums one would be more than happy to revisit. But with ‘Monolith’ quality seems to have taken a dip and with their latest ‘Dorman Heart’ things still remain well within the vicinity of that dip. The whole album is half filler and half still sturdy Sylosis. For songs like ‘Overthrown’ and ‘Leech’ in the middle, and ‘Indoctrinated’, ‘Harm’ and ‘Mercy’ hold their own while the rest of them doesn’t even throw a good riff at you that sticks and pales in comparison to the rest. Overall definitely better than their previous effort, ‘Dormant Heart’ still sees the band occupying the safe space between progression and self-refinement.
Toundra – IV
Now Toundra is sort of an underdog when it comes to the realm of instrumental metal. A genre that seems to have no dearth of albums for the last half a decade. You only need to go to bandcamp and peer in through the ‘post-metal’ tag to find the sheer amount of releases on display. It’s very hard to sift through these and strike gold. But Toundra throughout their entire discography have been the very definition of consistency, exposing a knack to pin down the listener by their repertoire of almost transcendental melodies. Their last effort , ‘III’, was probably the peak of their achievements so far, inculcating a darker undercurrent where melodies seamlessly wallow over, entrancing the listener in its spell. But ‘IV’, seems to have fallen flat, dead flat. Save for one single song, everything seemed like a band desperately on an attempt to pen down something different and only to find out that they’ve ran out of ink. The album showcases banks on their post-rockish side by mellowing themselves down and embracing its longer length. Unfortunately they stretch what is already pretty bland well over normal attention spans, meandering for far more than is necessary. Is there a diamond in the rough? Yes there is and it comes in the form of ‘Kitsune’ and the semi-interlude ‘Mrwing’ that follows it. Inculcating sort of a never before tried (band-wise) eastern vibe. A beacon of recognition of what this band is truly capable of.