We've always wanted to be more than just the hot local band in New York City. We thought bigger and that's paying off for us now," boldly says Jayden Panesso.
The Sylar frontman has reason to be confident. The Queens, NY-based quintet's debut album, To Whom It May Concern, finds a young band operating at their peak of their powers. Lead by the Panesso's authoritative vocals, Sylar deliver a metallic hardcore onslaught that pulsates with electro flourishes and the kinds of breakdowns that will have pit dwellers foaming at the mouth.
Panesso formed Sylar along with drummer Thomas Veroutis in 2011 after first crossing paths via social media. "I had just left a band I was playing bass in because I really wanted to sing. So I went on Facebook to try and find some musicians to start something new. I messaged Thomas after seeing a photo of him on Facebook in front of a drum kit," laughs the singer.
After realizing they were kindred musical spirits, Panesso and Veroutis went about auditioning musicians to flesh out the band. It took months, but after finding guitarists Dustin Jennings, Miguel Cardona (who also adds clean vocals to songs), and bassist Travis Hufton, Sylar came to life. "We named the band after the character Zachary Quinto played on the TV show, Heroes. His character was almost possessed, just very hungry for power and did whatever it took to get what he wanted. When I was out there trying to find the musicians to start this band, I felt like I could relate to that same hunger that the character Sylar had. That's why we used it for our band name."
After bringing their frenetic live show to audiences throughout the country, sharing the bills with the likes of Born of Osiris, A Skylit Drive and label mates Sworn In, Sylar went into the studio with producer Caleb Shomo (Attack Attack!) and the result was Deadbeat, an EP that helped cement their "band to watch" status.
After Shomo played the EP for Razor & Tie A&R executive Dylan Chenfeld, Sylar found a home on the label. Panesso on signing with Razor & Tie: "Once we released the Deadbeat EP, a bunch of different labels starting reaching out to us. It was crazy. But to us, Razor & Tie is such a prestigious label, and we couldn't think of a better place for us to sign with."
Armed with a record deal, Sylar headed to Columbus, Ohio to start work with Shomo on To Whom It May Concern. Recorded over the span of 28 days in September of 2013, the 12-track album balances the bite of metallic hardcore and hypnotic pull of electro with arena-ready hooks that sink into you from the first spin.
Although it's not a concept album, Panesso did have a specific feeling he wanted to thread through his lyrics on To Whom It May Concern. "Growing up, I turned to artists like Slipknot, Linkin Park and Eminem as an escape from all of my problems. I would listen to their songs and feel like they actually sat down and wrote their lyrics especially for me. They felt that personal. That's what I wanted to do with my lyrics for other people with this first record."
The guitar team of Jennings and Cardona prove to be metalcore alchemists on To Whom It May Concern, dropping bone-shattering riffs in abundance, but also bobbing and weaving through the electronic moments on the album, allowing the synths space to work their magic on songs like "Mirrors" and "Yours Truly." The album also features a guest vocal performance from Doriano Magliano, formerly of Woe, Is Me, on "Substance," one of the more ferocious tracks on the album.
The song "Never Let It Go" is especially important to Sylar since it gives listeners a chance to hear a different side of the band. The band eschews the harsh vocal style found on most of the album, instead going with a melodic approach that suits the song's anthemic qualities. "That song doesn't have a single breakdown or screaming part, and it stands out so much from the rest of the record. I could see it being played on radio. We felt it was important to include the song on the album to show everyone that we aren't a one-dimensional type of band."
With a debut album as inspired and sonically diverse as To Whom It May Concern now under their belt, Panesso and Sylar are in no danger of being called one-dimensional.