An album that invokes high levels of thinking is a rare artifact. The scarcity often comes from misconstrued branding attached to quasi-technical releases, shooting from tongues in a dim attempt to define what the fuck is actually going on. I have no idea what words like “progressive” and “genre-bending” mean in the context of final definition. Surely an album in cave man terms either hurts or hollows out one’s head. Now there is a lot of music to go around that leaves space for that cave man to reside in, but on occasion, when Mars, the Sun and Satan’s VW convertible align, one can come across an album that actually punishes your every cortex. Job For A Cowboy have done this with their latest taste of career-ripening. Know that this pain is not the unpleasant kind. It is the kind of brain pain that makes one feel inadequate but in awe. A sort of audible S&M.
Now already this is a lot of written wankery for one album, but understand that this is the same band that pig-squealed its way through pubescence in their Doom EP. Yes, there are a load of traditionalists, technicalists, masochists, and general death metal bands who would throw a more underground and analogue outfit to juxtapose what I am about to say, but Sun Eater from start to finish is possibly the most organic and audibly brilliant album heard in the extreme metal world, in the last decade. Huge statement, ey.
Easy on the lynch pyre.
The importance of this relates back to the amount of processing power your head goes through when shoving worn ear-phones into your head and attacking this LP. To be fair, I don’t really have a certain space where I enter to listen to Death Metal. It is just sudden and it quickly concludes in terms of whether it was memorable or terrible. So when Sun Eater entered the little, undesignated space of my daily ear-xistence, it actually persuaded me to make bloody time for it. This album has it all; and not in the weak sense of convergence whereby elements are dumbly placed beside each other. It is the sort of album that makes the guy who only owns the New Found Glory discography to feel like they have stumbled onto something authentically death metal, without the scorn of actually delving into the hitchhikers guide to the death metal galaxy. Instrumentally, the album boasts a very raw, neo-classical take on the genre (excuse me while I wrench my eyes out after that obnoxious description). It has all those evil, gritty scales, but it doesn’t detract in an attempt at axenic evilness. It is adroit and artful. While it may be lacking as a complete product, whereby the album does repeat too much thoughtfulness too many times, each song on its own delivers an exciting experience on how far the band has come.
Moving on, it is a little hard to describe the relationship between the instrumental performance and the vocals on Sun Eater. At first I was a bit shocked at how Jonny Davy’s technique has adapted to the progression of the band. I remember hearing “Bearing the serpents lamb” from Genesis days and still feeling the slight incline towards the ‘core-ish’ style in his voice, but this time he has completely committed himself to da ‘gram, so to speak. Sometimes this raw style is disconcerting to the listener in slower tracks like the opener “Eating the Visions of God”, yet it is unmistakably aglow in moments of faster instrumental execution; such as in “The Synthetic Sea”. This is not to say that “Sun of Nihility” does not ooze a dark experience, found in sombre tones and coarse-grained disphoria. It is just understandable if one battles to focus on the symbiosis between the unmechanized instrumentation and cheerless yet monstronous vocals. It is entirely up to the listener if they can hold their own to the amount of beautiful chaos found on this release.
If there are compelling points to the Sun Eater experience, it would have to be the lead work and bass on this album. The leads are so damn fun that it is hard to expand too much without losing the basic joy upon listening to them. “The Stone Cross” displays careful attention to the flow of the track and Tony Sannicandro’s work glides back into the mix of things rather than awkwardly stepping into the limelight. Yet, the most fascinating part of Sun Eater is the bass work. Of course love DAT mix that allows the low end to sit comfortably (which will make even the stubborn of us the biggest fanboys of Jason Suecof), but bassist Nick Schendzielos, has written such a great interpretation to the music, that by standing out, the bass actually lifted the album above solid.
Some may say they’re a tier above; others may say its the cute love-child of Ghost Reveries-era Opeth and a colder Obituary. I say it is so organic, that housewives dropped the fair-trade coffee and starting shopping at Metalblade for their fix of raw sustenance. Undecided or committed to the outfit, you need to buy this to just enjoy an album that spews hard work and care.