It’s hard to believe it’s been 5 years since Sylosis’ last album, the stellar Dormant Heart. An album that contained all the thrashy goodness of the band’s predecessors as well as those subtle intro’s here and there and of course that technical prowess of the band’s leader, not only on guitars but also the microphone in Josh Middleton.
Fast forward those five years and Middleton took a step sideways to land a spot in one of metalcore’s favourite bands, Architects, a fact this interviewer embarrassingly missed the email on. However, not one to let little facts get in the way of a bigger story, we tracked down Josh to give us the low down on all things Sylosis, their new album, Cycle of Suffering (our review here), a bit on his time with Architects and a little vegan question because we’re both vegan so we have to tell everyone right?
Josh, James from Wall of Sound Australia thanks for your time mate. Now straight off the bat, I want to fess up. When doing some research into yourself I only just realised that Josh Middleton from Sylosis is the same Josh Middleton from Architects. I am such a dumb fuck.
Not many people know ha-ha.
But don’t think you’re talking to a work experience kid it was just one of those things I never put two and two together, so apologies first off, and hey it’s not as bad as my fiancé who just found out recently that Dave Grohl was Nirvana’s drummer. Dumb fuckery abounds.
Yea, that is worse ha-ha.
Now, I interviewed you when the album Dormant Heart came out, so five years ago now and I honestly thought you guys were just taking a long hiatus – something you obviously did but via Architects. A slightly different change up for you personally, not being the lead vocalist and Architects clearly a more metalcore vibe than what Sylosis is. So how have you found that whole experience (Architects) and has it revitalised you heading into this new Sylosis album?
It’s been a great experience and the Architects guys have been good friends of mine for a long time. What a lot of people don’t realise is the new Sylosis record was written a good few years ago, prior to me joining Architects. So in terms of writing the album not much had really changed. I definitely missed doing vocals and stuff like that which made me really want to make a new Sylosis album happen and start touring again.
We went on hiatus before I joined Architects. I was just unhappy in early 2016, I felt frustrated by limitations I set for myself and the band and what Sylosis could and couldn’t do. I needed a fresh approach to writing. I actually started writing as if I was starting a new band, which was the idea to start with. When I submitted demos to the label however, management just said why would I want to start a new band when the material sounds like Sylosis? I realised then all I needed was to break away from the mental barriers I had put up about what Sylosis could and couldn’t do and do whatever I wanted. I chipped away over these past years, being more ruthless on what made it onto the new album, trim the fat so to speak and not make songs too long. That kind of thing.
Cycle of Suffering, I’ve just been having a listen over these past few days, is a great album. Sylosis fans will 100% be happy with this record and hopefully fans have made that connection between Sylosis and Architects and you’ve landed some new followers too, ha-ha.
Yea, well I hope so. I mean I didn’t want the guys in Architects to think I would piggyback off the success of that band and draw attention to Sylosis. I just missed doing this type of music and vocals.
Though it’s been 5 years or so since Dormant Heart, I feel Cycle of Suffering follows on nicely, definitely some thrashy chords amongst the album, I know you’re a fan of that genre and albums like And Justice For All… and Sepultura’s Arise, but there’s also that great songwriting as in previous Sylosis albums, the more technical stuff in there and also some subtle intros etc. like on the track, ‘Arms Like a Noose’. What mindset did you go into making this album?
A lot of the writing was done in the mindset that this was for a new band and then I kind of had to “Re-Sylosis” some of the songs to make them more fitting as they were too far from what the band (Sylosis) was. I always liked having those kind of intros, outros and interludes. I feel it just adds more layers and textures to an album. I think it just makes a good listening experience and interesting.
Of course Carl Panell, the original bass player is no longer with the band. It must be hard having that long break and then wanting to start up Sylosis again. Was it just a case of bad timing with Carl or simply different paths these days? And tell us a little about new bass player, Conor Marshall.
The thing with Carl was he was definitely on a different path the last few years. Maybe not different paths as such but we haven’t stayed in touch as much and that kind of thing. It doesn’t really change the writing. The writing is still all done by me and Conor Marshall the new bass player only joined the band a couple of months ago. The album was finished well before then and funnily enough we haven’t spent much time with Conor as yet but he seems like a great guy, an intense bass player and I’m excited to play some shows with him.
Back to the new album, it’s called Cycle of Suffering. Are there any themes across the album or title you are trying to convey?
Definitely not trying to convey a message or anything but I guess there are a few tracks that tie in with the title in terms of general suffering in some format. Whether that be depression, grief or whatever part of life hits you. Learning to sit with discomfort, that kind of thing. Things we all confront at some stage in life.
The final track on the album, ‘Abandon’, a hell of a way to conclude the album, did you do the cleans on that track?
Is that something you want to develop more into the future (the clean vocals)? I know Randy Blythe from Lamb of God has done a few tracks that way. I mean you can’t scream forever, right? And where do you see Sylosis going to from here? Is it just a case of fitting in, between Architects breaks and Sylosis touring?
I’ll just try and do as much as possible with both bands. In terms of cleans and screams, I mean we’ve had acoustic tracks at the end of other albums so it just continues on that theme but I definitely felt I worked a lot on my vocals on the new album, techniques and pushing myself. There might be some cleaner vocals here and there but it’s not something I really want to push. We’re not going to be like trying to write ballads or anything like that. I’m not a big fan of clean choruses or that kind of thing. I like melody, but I’d rather scream it. Put melody behind the scream and retain that aspect.
Off the track a little I want to ask you about your veganism. I know all the guys in Architects are all vegan and support organisations such as Sea Shepherd and PETA. Personally I’ve been vegan for almost a year and I’m a part of the Sea Shepherd Onshore Crew. I know from a personal viewpoint it has been so much easier interacting both socially and on a business level with like-minded people, I can only assume that your time with Architects must feel like the right decision for you both mentally and that can only of helped your music. Am I right to assume that?
I get what you’re saying. I agree. I mean when you share an outlet like that you really feel that you’re on the same page. I went vegan a few months after the guys in Architects did, around 2012 when I was filling in for them on guitar, so 8 years now. There’s definitely some sort of unity with it all and the band. In fact, the whole crew is vegan or vegetarian now, so yeah I get where you’re coming from.
I don’t think Australian’s have seen Sylosis live since 2013 at Soundwave, is that right? Any chance of this album cycle (pardon the pun) making its way down under in 2020?
I hope so. There’s nothing lined up. I think we just want to test the waters and not book too many shows or tours at this stage and see how well the new album does. It could go either way. People could be super excited or people could have forgotten about us. But fingers crossed.
That’s what you said last time ha-ha…
Well, the new album is great so we hope to see you soon!
Interview by James Birkin
Cycle of Suffering is out Friday Feb 7th via Nuclear Blast. Get it here
Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering tracklisting
1. Empty Prophets
2. I Sever
3. Cycle Of Suffering
7. Idle Hands
8. Apex Of Disdain
9. Arms Like A Noose
10. Devils In Their Eyes