Review: Sutrah — Dunes
“Do not seek, do not resist”. We are entering Sutrah‘s domain with their debut, Dunes.
Meanwhile other scenes of extreme music stagnates until oblivion by rehashing ideas, technical death metal is still one of the genres where musicians are willing to take risks. If you do not believe on this, just read every Thursday our special column about it and you will find extraterrestrial outtakes of extremity with no signs of end.
This healthy culture revolving tech death can be explained through the composers themselves. Sure, there is a lot of dark vocalizations and sweeping flashy guitar paradigms, but to reduce this style to a minimum expression is plain cruel. After the first spawn was birthed from the marriage of progressive music and death metal in the 90s, so many artists employed all these colors to paint complex canvas.
My intention here is not to point my appreciation towards the good part of the genre, since, like every other human invention, it have several low points. My goal here is to introduce to you an incredible piece of progressive sincerity that shook my notions of what is metal for me.
Sutrah is a relatively new name for the extreme metal audiences. Having released a humble two-song demo in 2015, the band was buried inside the underground soils and most of the progressive hunters literally forgot the outfit after so many years waiting for the final product. Two years later and with so many tribulations they release Dunes, and this is a roar it will be heard in every corner of the Earthly realm.
Besides that exquisite Canadian style, very aware of valuable musicianship, Sutrah integrates a thoughtful blend of Oriental philosophy and mythical approach. Punishing extreme metal catharsis is always confronted with meditative folkloric pieces in a 55 minute journey with spiritual diversions. In just one debut, this band cements as an elemental and magical force to be reckoned this year.
Introducing song, “Rèveil”, like in every other album, is the portal opening for an otherworldly experience, but in Dunes, the first seconds really sunk me inside a dark vacuum of mystical proportions, thanks partly to the novel usage of exotic instruments, like didgeridoo and reyongs that creates expansive vibrations. From now on, music-wise, the band is on par with their peers Gorguts, Martyr or Beyond Creation, with inventive ominous riffing, inhuman drumming, growl vocals and idiosyncratic bass work, giving the style an arcane vibe in every structural change and metric.
The concept, on the other hand, search for a metaphysical response through schools of thought and magic more akin to the Light side of the spectrum, appropriating Oriental concepts to give a new edge to the genre. Even when these explorations has been celebrated by Cynic, Pestilence, Atheist or the mythical Lykathea Aflame, the debut of Sutrah is solid and sincere.
The metallic meditations are viciously introduced in the form of “Dunes”, a true example of the syncretic exercise of this debut. The song hits hard without mercy in part of the wonderful riffing and the incredible rhythm work, on the other side the bass tone gives an esoteric vibe that cannot be escaped, but with lyrics at hand, the churning progressive twists of the entire tracks brings new life to the already great music. However, after the middle section, the dialogue between the Hindu hero Arjuna and his friend, the Black God Krishna, elevates the song to new and chaotic heights, in part thanks to the dynamic growling and the tenebrous “om” chants that slice the track in splendor.
“Effervescence” follows the destructive path paired with the atmospheric nuances. Beginning with spooky multiple sounding bells that later serves as the rhythmic catalyst for more scorching technical death metal, the song mutates into another beast with an exquisite full throttle modern death metal attack. This goes in the whole 7 minutes, in some sort of dancing manner that breaks the mold of the genre with passionate songwriting, sculpting one of the most refreshing and positive inspiring moments of the album.
Then, we have “Stargazer”, which is the marriage of the malleable darkness of “Dunes” and the energetic recharges of “Effervescence”, another superb inclusion to the Sutrah debut. For the first time in eons, an extreme piece about magical contemplation sounds so fresh, so original and so invigorating. Once again, every instrument is extremely tight and understands each other to deliver the best for the piece as a whole.
The second half of Dunes is less twilight colored than the first, but the restrained approach makes the band shines with their interesting extreme metal tool box. To aid the listener through the final part of its journey, the interludes are present to rest the soul on the punishing antimatter spiritual guidance. In each song, “Akrasia”, “The Plunge” and epic closer “Babel” the riffs are abundant and inspired.
The magic that Sutrah channeled with this debut is unparalleled. All the corners and sounds of the record exist for a reason, which speaks volumes of the band’s attitude towards the two realms of metal: technical achievement and artistic integrity. Meanwhile, I welcome with arms open the inclusion of a new name to that arcane and philosophical motivated branch of extreme metal style.
Either way, we all win with this band and this debut. Sutrah made the unthinkable in the genre: delivered a solid manuscript of progressive enchants and became new gurus of the Light path, both at the same time.
I will concede 4.5 of 5 flaming toilets ov hell to this wonderful record: