Review: Sumeru – Summon Destroyer
Australian darkness instead of by-the-book dankness.
Always quick to judge, a look at Sumeru’s logo had me expecting some pure-bred stoner material, and lo, stoner doom was indeed what I saw them billed as. I haven’t heard a lot of the debut, but it seems like the tag already didn’t do them justice then, and with the sophomore Summon Destroyer, I would argue that it’s high time (ha, get it) to expand the description, which is half-accurate at best.
Intro track “Inanis Kultus” very effectively achieves its intended effect of giving you the feeling that you’ve stumbled into some secret meeting of hooded figures in an abandoned basement. An ominous, swelling soundscape in which chanting voices become more and more discernible eventually gives way to the first proper song, “The Temple”. Admittedly, with this song, Sumeru are still pretty much par for the course; the leisurely pace and the entrancing guitar lines in the verse that wind around each other like vines fit the genre tag. It does a good job of keeping up the sinister atmosphere from the intro though, and was enough to at least convince me that I was in for good stoner doom. The title track, however, is where they start to touch upon some different markers.
The higher tempo of the verses and singer Matt Power (what a name!) leaning even more heavily on a more aggressive vocal style are the first hints that there’s more to see here than I had thought. The riff right at the beginning also brings in a touch of the melancholy that will become more prevalent throughout the album later. I’m not a huge fan of the drastic tempo shift they do for the chorus, but the full-on doom part starting after the second chorus works indcredibly well and has a good deal going on. As far as I can see, no one is credited with synths or samples, but I’m pretty sure there’s something to that effect going on here, and it creates a cool, desolate mood that almost reminds me of post-metal.
A similar mood pervades “Embrace The Cold”, where it’s contrasted with a riff that has a sort of marching momentum to it, conjuring images of tracking across a vast ice desert. “Kala Ratri” is an interlude comprised of acoustic guitar and violin, again stressing a melancholic streak and ending on a foreboding note, which makes for a great transition into “Durga! Durga!”, throughout which the acoustic guitar makes further appearances. Otherwise, this track offers the same mix of doom, sludge, and slight colourings of post-metal that we’ve heard before; the last remnants of the “stoner” part of the equation have long gone out the window.
“Rivers of Lethe” is the shortest of the proper songs on here, and as you may guess from that, it boasts the highest speed, showing that Sumeru can competently rock out if need be, even if they return to the safe harbour of doom for the chorus. That is also where they spend the entirety of the ten-minute closer “A New Ritual”. While the melancholy reaches its peak here, the song is not without uplifting moments, the guitar solo in the last third being one of them. Nonetheless, I feel like this song drags on a bit; since most of the other songs manage to go to different places throughout their shorter runtime, this one mostly feels like a slog and doesn’t come off as monumental as it maybe wants to.
Summing up, the mix of sludge, doom and slight post-metal leanings was a heck of a lot more interesting than expected. Sumeru manage to consistently keep up a slightly eerie, dark atmosphere flecked with melancholy and don’t require stoner tropes as a crutch. I’m interested to see where they will take this in the future and award them