Some of you might be thinking to yourselves, “huh… where have I heard the name Suntorn before?” You might have first heard it like I did when I interviewed Mike O’Hara (guitars; Splattered Entrails, Malodorous) when he mentioned he was a part of this band. Like the idiot I was, I didn’t do any follow-up questions asking “what is Suntorn,” or anything like that, so I just waited until more information about the band was released via Facebook. Not only is Mike in this band, but “T-R3X” of Malodorous is the drummer, too. So, bearing all of that information in mind, one should know that I popped a death metal erection of monolithic proportions. The band came to me with their debut album in hand, “The Will To Power“, and I am hoping that this mighty collaboration will help Mike O’Hara and “T-R3X” from having any sort of blemish on their musical records with me.
I just want to quickly clarify something, which is that Suntorn refers to their sound as “Nu Slam”. To be quite honest, terms like that scare me. The reason is because I think slams in brutal death metal are a double-edged sword, meaning if they are used correctly then they will greatly enhance the power of the music itself. However, if the band uses slams as the base of their sound rather than just a tool to be used in moderation, then there is the chance of the music becoming stale and predictable. Some bands can pull it off, such as older Abominable Putridity, but most suffer a quiet and forgotten death.
After a short introduction you are thrown into the meaty and brutal sound of ‘3911’, which is meant to be the chosen single from the record. The first thing I notice is that while I am able to recognize Mike’s signature riffing, this material is exactly what I would have imagined it to be, except with some more variations in the vocals. There really is a lot to be enjoyed on “The Will To Power” as it barrels onward, especially for those that enjoy the new-school brutal death metal and deathcore sounds. The good news for me is that while Suntorn do use the slow-and-plodding melodies as their musical base, they never stay there for more than what is needed.
Suntorn do a magnificent job of being able to blend the elements of slam, brutal death metal, and a minimal deathcore influence thrown in for good measure. Tracks like the aforementioned ‘3911’, ‘Mental Enslavement’, ‘Torments Of Existence’, ‘Awaiting Oblivion’ and ‘Catastrophobia’ all have a fantastic flow to them. I particularly enjoyed the solo in ‘Mental Enslavement’ and chugging bridge in ‘Torments Of Existence’. While those songs do follow a particular formula, I felt that there was enough variation in them to satisfy my needs. ‘Pick Your Poison’ felt like a b-side from “Nauseate” by Splattered Entrails, which I will gladly take; a short 48 second burst of brutal deathgrind. They even added a cosmic ambient track in the form of ‘Equanimity’ that conjures up a feeling one would have if they were listening to modern day Ulver in order to give you a break from the constant barrage of brutality. We have also seen Travis Ryan (Cattle Decapitation) making some guest vocal appearances lately, namely in the new Soulfly album, and he is also on the very last track, ‘Nature’s Inexorable Imperative’.
Now, even though I enjoyed the majority of ‘The Will To Power‘, there are still a couple of problems with it. There were a few passages where I felt myself nodding off a little bit because I thought the riffs would get a bit monotonous, particularly in ‘Dark Side Of The Sun’ and ‘Ouroboros’. Maybe it’s because I know that Mike is able to be far more adventurous than he has been on this record, but I also understand that it is a much different project. The second problem is just due to me being incredibly picky, but I can’t help but mentally play ‘Bludgeon’ by the god-awful entity that is Suicide Silence whenever the screamed vocals come in by themselves, which at the apex then transcends into a more-than-predictable breakdown in ‘The Will To Power’. If there is one thing you want to make sure you never do, it is (even inadvertently) copy Suicide Silence.
One of the qualities that was stressed to me was that T-R3X’s drums are not triggered, which sounded so sweet to my ears because I loathe triggered drums (unless it’s a drum machine), especially in the modern death metal scene of today. You can clearly tell that he is telling the truth as you can hear the feeling he puts into each strike of his kit. While Mike lives in Long Island and the rest of the group is located in San Diego, Mike had no problems with recording his guitars in his own home studio. The rest of the band did their parts at The Demon’s Asylum, which apparently the band itself owns. Every instrument is full and thick as molasses. Peter Sliwinski’s vocals are loud, but not overpowering to the rest of the music. The only issue I had with the production is it felt like Greg Monace’s bass was completely buried underneath the rest of the onslaught that is Suntorn, aside from a couple of instances where he was the main focus of the music. But, that is a very common grievance I have with today’s modern death metal.
I will admit that Suntorn‘s debut album had taken a few listens to reel me in. I am typically not a fan of the newer style of brutal death metal or deathcore, but there is just something about the way the band has composed their music to make it not only ridiculously heavy, but personally engaging. It will certainly be difficult for Suntorn to win the hearts of old-school death metal heads, but I can clearly see them making in-roads easily with the younger crowd. We must also remember that the band members themselves are relatively young, so if they are able to keep up this musical blend and possibly add a little more variation in the future, then I can see themselves having a very fruitful career. While I don’t think this will reach the replay levels of the latest Cannibal Corpse or Plague Widow albums, I think I will be listening to this album a lot throughout the rest of this year. Gentlemen, I think it is safe to say that both Mike O’Hara and T-R3X are three-for-three and two-for-two in their times being profiled here at Metal Blast. Good work.