Once upon a time, it really looked like Sylar were onto something good. It’s true that they’ve never been a mind-blowing band, but for a fusion of metalcore, nu-metal and the neck-snapping, kerb-stomping ethos of New York hardcore, it was all a hefty helping of dumb fun at the best of times. That was even the case as recently as the first half of this year, but the singles preceding Seasons painted a picture of a very different band, one in grave danger of being swallowed up by the dullest affectations of their respective styles, and being left as one of the same boring scene bands they’d at least made the effort to distance themselves from.
And unfortunately, Seasons crosses that threshold almost right from the off, reducing any sort of bounce or groove to mere accompaniments at the very most, and instead relying on the dated and unappealing rap-rock stylings of – of all bands – Hollywood Undead. Say what you want about that band though, but at least that band can be even slightly entertaining in their brashness; Sylar stick almost exclusively to overwrought emotionality that doesn’t benefit them whatsoever, with the only hint of that previous swagger coming on embarrassingly basic chest-puffing sessions like Shook!.
That all makes Seasons such a slog to get through, particularly when Sylar feel as though they’re cruising along for the whole time with no urgency or drive. Sure, a decent hook will pop up every now and then like on No Way or Open Wounds (mostly thanks to the fact that Miguel Cardona is an expressive enough clean vocalist to sell them), but juxtaposed with Jayden Panesso’s critically underwhelming rapping abilities and bad habits of dipping into the most cringeworthy of metalcore clichés (see All Or Nothing for the absolute worst example), and this feels like a new band’s first draft, not the third full-length from a band who’ve proven they can do much better than this before.
The instrumentation and production doesn’t help either, stripping away any previous hardcore influences for safe melodic metalcore with the sort of polish that comes part and parcel with that style. Again, any sort of groove or even anything that deviates from the barely minimum is barely here, and by the back half, it’s more or less a gauntlet of derivative bluster and oversized yet underweight melodies that refuse to stick no matter how hard they try. It’s not even so horrendously awful that it’s worth getting worked up over, but there’s just nothing worth saying about any of it; Sylar seem to actively forgo making this album engaging in the slightest to mitigate the chances of failing too hard.
And yet, that’s exactly what they’ve done here. At least if they were to branch out a bit more for something more interesting, there’d be more to talk about instead of a barebones collection of metalcore and rap-rock songs that have nothing going for them in the slightest. It’s genuinely quite difficult to see who Sylar are trying to appeal to here, given that even the most dedicated, non-judgmental fans of each genre would even opt for something with more flavour and lasting appeal than this.
For fans of: Hollywood Undead, We Came As Romans, The Plot In You
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Seasons’ by Sylar is released on 5th October on Hopeless Records.