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Album Of The Month November 2016
Sumerlands | ‘Sumerlands’

It’s been weeks now since this came out.

I’ve been watching the days clock on by, conscious with every one of them that I haven’t reviewed this yet – every wasted day a crime against this incredible piece of work and the need to just recommend it from the rooftops.

Part of the difficulty is just the obviousness of it. What’s to say when an album is just so self evidently and plainly fantastic?

Hopefully tons, you’d think. But some stuff is just so good all you need to do is plug in and listen. The rest is mere flim-flam.

Nonetheless, here goes.

Right from the start of its scratchy, Van Halen opening lick, Sumerlands just has it.

Straight up heavy metal whose guitars recall KK Downing and Glenn Tipton in the brittle softness of their distortion, this band nonetheless bring a quality to it that is so far above the basics of denim and leather.

I hestitate to call it Goth, yet that’s the feeling. Perhaps you could compare the mood loosely with what In Solitude caught on ‘Sister’, and yet not really – even the Fields Of The Nephilim reference in their name points to something simultaneously true and false.

Hear the whip riff of ‘Timelash’ as it cracks with an offbeat groove. The chordal and right hand guitar work on this album is sublime. Those modal chords are beautiful.

It is surely the vocals though that are the icing on the cake. They sound detached and ghostly, not quite one with the music, coming from a different place. All the time I am reminded, for no particular reason – least of all the sound – of Killing Joke’s ‘Love Like Blood’.

The solos are drowned in a Whitesnake-esque reverb. And in fact the whole thing sounds so wonderfully 80s.

Now allow me to venture. Could ‘Blind’ be the track of 2016?

For tell me, if not, what on earth is in comparison? The toms roll. The palm muted guitar attacks, crisp and dark, completely determined. The lyrics yearn.

Yearning. There it is. That’s the key quality that this album has – somewhere between assertive, driving and forceful and wispy and unknowable Goth.

You could listen to this album twice in a row and still crave a third. I know I said in last month’s Opeth review that it was hard when such dynamic metal as this was around to give it the album of the month slot.

And now I figure; just wait. And give this release the accolade it deserves. Yes this is a few weeks over due. But it has no competitor for Album Of The Month for November.

Buy it at once. Your collection is empty without it.

True, real, vibrant, magick, dynamic and emotion filled metal – wow.

4.7 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 20/11/16

  1. Couldn’t agree more such an addictive album!

  2. Never heard of them. Like the sound of those tracks though. Very goth.

  3. Tut tut, John. If you’ve never heard of them, you just haven’t been paying enough attention to the forum. 😉

  4. You’re right dave. Sadly life gets in the way these days 🙂

  5. Class album. Figured it’d be good before hearing a note considering Phil Swanson was on vocals. I was surprised at original poster of the thread for the album over on the forum, as they later came back and said they didn’t like it because it sounded like a full album thats essentially founded on the riff from Bark At the Moon. That’s a fair injustice to it I reckon. It’s definitely got a specific melancholic vibe throughout that’s subtle and masterfully done, after the fact that it’s just a catchy, old school sounding heavy metal album that’s addictive to listen to.

  6. AntonArcane Says:

    I strong contender for album of year for me.

  7. The bark at the moon comment has a nod of truth to it though. Personally I hear a lot of Miika Tenkula’s playing style and melody (sentenced). Very cool. I have no clue who the singer is or what other bands he’s in but interesting goth tone.

  8. Oh yeah the Bark comment definitely has truth to it, but the OP said it initially and linked the first song released from it, but later (upon hearing the full thing) said that was all the really album was and that he was let down by it. The singer also did vocals on all of Hour Of 13’s albums which I highly recommend.

  9. If that last comment didn’t make much sense, search for post in the forum and you’ll see what I mean.

  10. Swanson also sings with Seamount, most of whose albums are well worth checking out, and Vestal Claret, who I’m still not overly familiar with.

  11. It’s great, certainly – however, I’d agree that a lot of the riffs do have that familiar Bark at the Moon ‘pedalling off an open string’ style to them. Generally being in the same key throughout doesn’t help either.

  12. Sounds daycent, Will give it a closer listn later on.

  13. yeah it’s good. Nothing ground breaking, but defiantly decent. The riffs have a nostalgic familiarity to them for certain.

  14. I think this album is a bit of a mishmash of obvious riffs and weird guitar tone. Swanson is a great vocalist and all but is this just another flash in the pan for him? Id put money on it.

  15. D-Loc Capone Says:

    Dis shit go haaawd in da paint

  16. Franksodebottom Says:

    Maybe it’s my speakers but the production sounds a bit poor.
    On a positive note it sounds quite happy and upbeat for the style, great writing and musicianship too.
    Overall I like it though and look forward to hearing more.

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