As someone directly involved in the New York metal and hardcore scene, saying you are not a fan of Sylar is basically blasphemy. And while I’ve always gone back and forth on my opinions of the rap-core group from Queens, their latest release, Help! has not actually helped develop my opinions any further: I still cannot tell if I like this group or not.
There’s a reason that rap-metal didn’t successfully make it into the latter half of the 2000s—it’s a one trick pony that gets tiresome rather quickly, which is why only half of Help! translates well. Help! Is broken up into two separate spheres: the songs that rely on rap-metal and the ones that don’t. While this rapcore side of Sylar is what initially sent them skyrocketing through their local scene, getting the noticing heads of labels turning, it’s their less edgy stuff that really shows their true musicianship.
“I Know, You Know, I Know” is based solely on melody and solid rock riffs making it instantly engaging, the same goes for “Soul Addiction.” Even with semi-cheesy lyrics like “You know that I’m addicted to your soul,” the toned back rap and more rock oriented aspect of the track makes it stand out amongst the rest of the record and stays stuck in your head. The same cannot be said of the Korn-inspired hip-hop vibe of “Me, Myself & I” or “Gambit Rogue Delight.” There’s just something campy and unnecessarily abrasive about each track that translates more into song writing laziness than skillset.
Let’s talk about tuning. Kicking off with the title track and being carried throughout the record to “Pleasure Paradise,” the low levels of many of these tracks just feel like they are trying to be heavy for heaviness’ sake, not because it benefits the record in any way. And I love heavy, hard hitting music, but it needs its purpose. Dropping tracks that are just low to be low simultaneously complimenting lyrical bastardizations like “All these mother fuckers want to be just like me” (“Pleasure Paradise”) is something far more suitable for a band like Attila than it is for Sylar, especially when Sylar have presented several tracks that are of some real upstanding merit, like “Dark Daze.” “Dark Daze” is the best track on this album; it’s catchy, it doesn’t over saturate rap into the track, the clean vocals rip over that chorus guitar riff. And it’s heavy in all the right, necessary places. Had the rest of the record taking this direction, the whole album would be gangbusters.
Help! Has its standard ups and downs throughout the record, and a little more time fine-tuning what they want to really sound like would benefit the band overall. Sylar has a tremendous amount of potential, they just need to tap into it more and not lean back on attempting to revive early Linkin Park. A slightly more mature musical direction on their next album could really launch them through the music sphere.