Review: Suneater’s ‘Dormant’
In the realm of sludge and post-metal, where darkness and heaviness converge to create a sonic abyss, Suneater emerge as a prominent force from the isolated lands of Perth, Western Australia. With their upcoming EP, Dormant, Suneater delve deep into the realms of growth and change, exploring the dichotomy of positive and negative experiences that shape our existence. Following on from the band’s self-titled EP in 2018 and a full length LP, Absence in 2021, Suneater up the ante with Dormant, which is scheduled to drop on all streaming services on Tuesday, June 20.
Opening the gates to this transformative journey is the track Maelstrom, an explosive eruption of crackling energy that reverberates with devastating sludgy riffs and thunderous percussion. Jacson Robb's deep guttural vocals, intertwined with piercing screams, immerse the listener in a demonic soundscape. As the bridge reveals the band's experimentation with time signatures, the track reaches its pinnacle with the most brutal riff on the EP.
Deprived follows, with a solitary guitar panned hard into the left speaker paving the way for a pulsating groove that echoes through the song. It's the kind of riff that resonates with the soul of sludge and post-metal, summoning a headbanging fervency. Robb’s proclamations of “Struck down once again” and “I’m deprived” command the listener’s attention before a change of tempo sees guitar chords overlaid with enchanting reverberating vocal effects. Suneater showcase their technical ability with Zach James and Scott Michael delivering intricate riffs on the higher strings, before leading the song into a chaotic and cathartic summit.
Then comes the epic masterpiece, Succumb, a nine-minute composition that traverses the full spectrum of Suneater's artistry. This track takes the listener on a boundless journey, revealing every layer of the band's sound in a mesmerising fashion. Succumb delves into doom-oriented atmospheres, driven by an impassioned growl of “Succumb to weakness” that sends shivers down the spine. Ethereal clean vocals from Scott Michael intertwine with airy guitar effects and fuzzy bass, creating an almost psychedelic trance. The extended instrumental sections draw the listener further into the depths of Suneater's sonic landscape, culminating in a change of tempo before closing out with standalone bass guitar.
Following this aural feast, Respite serves as the perfect comedown. An interlude of eerie guitar effects and clever engineering with reverse-instruments, it provides a momentary pause for reflection before the EP's title track.
Dormant, the grand finale of the journey, opens with beautiful, slow-moving guitar melodies reminiscent of the preceding interlude. Haunting clean vocals intertwine with sinister moments, showcasing the polarity inherent in Suneater's sound. The song lures the listener with hypnotic passages before diving once again into brutality, with duelling deep growls and high-pitched screams. The EP concludes with one final push of a savagely addictive riff, leaving the listener craving more.
Instrumentally, Suneater display a remarkable level of skill and creativity. Zach James and Scott Michael's guitar work showcases both technical proficiency and a keen sense of melody, alternating between bone-crushing riffs and ethereal passages that evoke a sense of ascendancy. The rhythm section, consisting of Jacson Robb on bass and Harry Garvey on drums, provides a solid foundation, anchoring the music with a pulsating heaviness that drives each track forward.
Dormant is a testament to Suneater's dedication to their craft, as well as their ability to push the boundaries of sludge and post-metal. The EP showcases their mastery of contrasting elements, seamlessly weaving between moments of darkness and light, brutality and beauty. It's evident that the band approached the creation of this EP as a holistic endeavour, crafting a cohesive experience rather than simply a collection of individual songs.
Throughout the EP, the production quality shines, courtesy of Ethan Macpherson's expertise at Sumo Sound Studios and Oracle Sound. The meticulous attention to detail allows each instrument to find its place within the mix, enhancing the impact of every riff, growl, and atmospheric passage. The result is a sonic tapestry that envelops the listener and demands their full attention.
Zach James once again displays his creative talents with the design of the Dormant EP artwork, further cementing his role as a multifaceted artist within Suneater. The visual representation of the EP is a crucial aspect of its overall impact, as it serves as a gateway into the world that lies within.
With Dormant, Suneater solidify their status as a pummelling force in the Australian heavy music scene. Their exploration of growth and change, paired with their influences from bands such as Yob, Neurosis, Mastodon, and Converge, cements their place among the ranks of forward-thinking, experimental metal acts.
As they embark on their upcoming tour across Australia, Suneater's live performances are sure to captivate audiences and further elevate their status within the sludge/post-metal realm. The release will be supported with shows in Melbourne (The Old Bar, Friday, June 30 w/ Ghostsmoker, Choof and Beggar), Sydney (The Vanguard, Saturday, July 1 w/ Mountain Wizard Death Cult, Foothills and Oar) and Perth (Badlands Bar, Friday, July 28 w/ Mage, The Wedges, Halo of Teeth).
Dormant is a mesmerising and cathartic journey through the realms of sludge, post-metal, and doom. Suneater's ability to blend contrasting elements, their skilled musicianship, and their exploration of deeply human themes make this EP a standout release in their discography. With their unwavering dedication to pushing boundaries and their captivating live performances, Suneater are poised to make a lasting impact on the heavy music landscape.