• JPR

Review: Sun Speaker's Upcoming Album "Ov Lustra"


I was 13 years old when Faith No More exploded onto my television screen and into my life with a green paint-spewing hand and a flopping goldfish that may or may not have belonged to Courtney Love. Ever since that pivotal (and admittedly weird) moment I have wanted to be on the very cutting edge of new music, and especially metal. That my job here is to bring you the freshest cuts of metallic excellence I can find makes my inner 13 year old really happy. And that's an unnecessarily long introduction to 'Ov Lustra,' the debut LP from Phoneix, Arizona's Sun Speaker. 'Ov Lustra,' due out on April 20th on Subliminal Groove records, is a ferocious melding of everything that makes extreme metal great:Infectious hooks & memorable riffs; an unrelenting rhythm section, and Randy Abbott's screams and growls that defy what human vocal chords should be capable of. Book-ended by tracks of ambient strings, 'Ov Lustra' is a sonic novel of blackened death metal that bludgeons just as well as it uplifts. "I" opens on fully automatic double bass, Abbott's growl from the depths, and a synth note that hangs you on the edge of your headphones before plunging into a torrent of delicious fret board manipulation by Tyler Allen and Ryan Todd. Their guitars, though often indistinguishable, exist in that ideal plain where even in a track like 'Felle,' with it's Meshuggah-esque rhythmic assault, seamlessly transition from rhythm to lead and then back again. Never do the solos stand out to the point that they detract from the break-neck pacing of a song; nor do they feel like needless noodling. Everything here has a purpose, just as it should. The unsung hero on 'Ov Lustra' are the keys and synths, and perhaps the reason why I thought of Faith No More after hearing this album for the first time. Too often I've heard albums that incorporate synths and their weight in the mix only dulls the edge of an otherwise piercing metal song. On 'Damnum,' the synths, though very much present, elevate the instruments and vocals; creating a sinister atmosphere that would otherwise not exist. Both 'Resolve' and 'The Climb' feature deathcore killing sprees perpetrated by Abbott's screams that work in concert with Gabe Santillan's rhythm section; while twisting, atmospheric guitars and a hollowed-out synth conjure desolate and lonely imagery. Faith No More mastered this technique decades ago, and little could have made me happier than to hear something akin to Roddy Bottum's stellar work in an atmospheric death metal band. The winner here is 'Arrival,' and the song that not only haunted me the most, but the one that will put Sun Speaker on the map. So much more than a death metal barn burner, the track is a textbook example of how to both construct and deconstruct a song. Guitars and synths fade in and are then accompanied by pounding drums; yielding then to a full-frontal assault in several distinct, always engaging segments, before the synths and drums come back in to wind the track back down. The book-end effect mirrors that of the album itself, and is a testament to the strength of the song-writing here. Does 'Ov Lustra' break new ground or reinvent the wheel? No, but that's because it doesn't have to. In a world full of bands who are succeeding at creating totally unique and (sometimes) unlistenable sounds, Sun Speaker have taken the best parts of what's worked for bands like Fallujah and The Black Dahlia Murder and harnessed them into a debut that both deserves recognition and portends future excellence. If that's not reason enough to go out hunting new metal every day then I don't know what is. Rage on! JPR

"Arrival" Official Video

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