Tech Death Thursday: Sun Speaker
Sun Speaker has shown us the light, and it burns so good. Get in here for some sweet blackened death!
A wee bit of tech news first:
- The new Alkaloid song follows up on the Dyson Sphere quartet from the debut, and it’s appropriately mindfucky. Check out “Chaos Theory and Practice” and look for Liquid Anatomy on May 18th.
- Speth is like Opeth, but with an S. Check out a brief preview of some tunes here.
- Brutal death metal outfit Accursed Creator has a new single with an accompanying video, and it’s pretty sweet. Definitely on the brainier side of brutal death, which I’m always a fan of. Hopefully we’ll be hearing more from them soon.
This week’s offering comes courtesy of Sun Speaker, and it’s a bit different from what usually cover here (though I feel like I’ve been saying that more and more lately, so I’m not sure there really is a “usual” anymore). It’s technical, but that’s not the focus of the music. Nor is it what I’d call “progressive,” at least not in terms of theory or riff structure; maybe as it pertains to certain genre tropes, but we’ll get to that later. Despite that, I think this is the sort of thing that’s going to be most appreciated by fans of tech death and could probably serve as a good gateway band for the genre; plus, it’s just really good, and this seems like a decent excuse to talk about it.
In case you missed our premiere a couple months back, Sun Speaker plays a form of lightly blackened atmospheric death metal that leans in a technical direction; a mouthful, to be sure, but it’s less complex than it looks on paper. Chunky riffs and pummeling drums lay the foundation of the music, built upon by poignant synths and reverb-soaked, post-black metal style leads. There’s a fair amount of start-stop riffing that opens up plenty of space for the lead guitar and pleasantly hardcore-influenced vocals to do their work. Ov Lustra is an album that aims to be as emotionally engrossing as it is headbangable, and it succeeds on both fronts.
The music’s ties to the album’s narrative is also integral to its success. I won’t go into detail about it here- you can read more about it (and all the lyrics) on Bandcamp– but I will say it’s melancholy without being overtly depressing, and it serves as more than a simple backdrop for the music. Rather, it’s a driving force; as I listened with the story in mind, it was actually Mastodon’s Blood Mountain that my mind kept drawing comparisons to. Both albums have very steady pacing that follows a traditional narrative arc, and each song sets a distinct mood on the individual level as well. “Resolve” going into “The Climb” illustrates this the best: you can feel the protagonist steeling himself for the trials ahead in the former, and the latter really sells the image of his grueling journey up the mountainside.
What really took my by surprise on Ov Lustra didn’t really occur to me until my second or third listen through. Someone in the comments of the “Arrival” premiere pointed out that they were getting some deathcore vibes from the song. It wasn’t immediately apparent to me, but it’s definitely there; I’d go as far as to say it’s the prevailing style on some of the songs. The fact that I didn’t catch this right away is what makes it so noteworthy; it isn’t laden with the same eye-roll inducing tropes that weigh down basically every other band in the genre, and it’s not trying to remind you at every turn that you’re listening to a deathcore record. The riffs with motion, the successful use of atmosphere, the smooth transitions between each part: these are the things that set Sun Speaker apart, and they’re exactly the elements that deathcore needs to evolve.
I know that attaching that label to a band can immediately kill off interest in some people, but I sincerely hope it doesn’t deter you from checking this out. Sun Speaker are doing something different, and they’re doing it very well. Fans of the newest Rivers of Nihil and labelmates Kardashev will certainly find a lot to like here, but I imagine most anyone into death metal will get something out of it. Ov Lustra is out now via Subliminal Groove Records; be sure to give Sun Speaker your regards on Facebook as well. That’s all for now, and until next time,
Is your band tech as heck? Got a juicy piece of news or an upcoming release to watch? Send it my way at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll check it out. I might even talk about it.