Click to hear: “Lizard Birdman

The self-titled debut album by death-metal supergroup Sylvia may have saved my life. I was on the Maine Turnpike a couple months ago during a ridiculously heavy blizzard. It was white-knuckle driving in near white-out conditions, when the only way to avoid an accident or stranding is to keep the tires in the fast-vanishing tracks made by the vehicle ahead. Even the truckers were observing a top speed of 25 m.p.h. I needed to drive with intense focus and aggression, and Sylvia’s music epitomizes both.

Sylvia is an unrelenting aural assault. Guitarists Sean Libby (The Horror, Johnny Cremains) and Candy (Ocean, Candy Man) alternate sludgy, skull-stomping riffs with shredding that rarely ventures far up the neck — solos are scarce. Bassist Reuben Little (Ocean, Swamp Witch Revival) rumbles beneath it all, while drummer Andrew Barron (Cult Maze, Phantom Buffalo) pounds away like Animal with a nosefull of Ritalin. Candy’s vocals are a mix of screams, howls and growls that only occasionally reveal themselves as words. Given that he used to work in restaurants, I’m curious to know what he’s yelling on “The Wolves of Brunch,” but otherwise content just to soak in the catharsis.

Sylvia isn’t breaking new ground here, though Barron’s creative playing, informed by his indie-rock days, helps the material avoid some metal clichés, and there’s enough prog in the progressions to keep things unpredictable. With Sylvia booming through the stereo, I safely navigated my way home that day. I recommend keeping a copy of this album in your vehicle for just such emergencies, or anytime you need a good scream.

— Chris Busby

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