The opening line of the promo for Oslo based four-piece Suncraft says ‘If you need a fix of riveting riffs, thumping grooves, luscious melodies and heavy, stoner-inspired rock n’ roll: Suncraft is just what you’re looking for’ and that’s exactly what their debut album, the awesomely titled Flat Earth Rider, does.
Written during the hole in the calendar that was 2020, the album is inspired by many wide ranging themes surrounding contemporary living as the tongue in cheek title would suggest. Here they deal with loneliness, conspiracy theories and spirituality in modern life. Recorded live, this album bristles with energy from the start and lends an organic feel that is vintage rock and roll. More importantly in these stressful times, this is a record that radiates a huge sense of fun, the way that honest rock and roll should. This is one of those classic albums that leans on the old cliche of getting dudes to bang their heads and ladies to shake their asses.
The rumbling intro of the title track breaks out into a driving rock and roll party sound with big riffs, powerful drumming and a heroic melodic chorus. Vocally the band deliver clean vocals, recalling the likes of departed UK trio Grifter, in their ability to create muscular, hook driven tracks that never stray far from a line to make you want to sing out, or air drum like the ghost of Keith Moon.
Space Buddha, the first single from the album channels Iggy and the Stooges colliding with Powertrip era Monster Magnet in a powerful rock and roll meets stoner stadium magnificence with blistering solos that feels like they’re trying to slow the pace, but having too much fun to let the energy drop.
Lingo Hive Mind sees the band open up and embrace more of the stoner element, never quite committing to abandoning moments of pure rock and roll, this has moments of driving Kyuss like riffs and a snotty punk attitude that almost feels like they’re fighting with themselves over which direction the track should take, but somehow this does not detract or stop it from working and the pure, exhilarating speed rush of the last minute is the sound of the band having the time of their lives.
The rumbling intro of the title track breaks out into a driving rock and roll party sound with big riffs, powerful drumming and a heroic melodic chorus…
Second single Commie Cannibals finally sees the band lean into their stoner rock influences fully. At times as dark as the title would suggest, Suncraft get heavy and dirty, walking the tightrope between airy space rock moments, and Arms Of God Corrosion of Conformity power smashes, that see the band bullishly layering walls of heavy grooves with catchy guitar work.
When they do take the tempo down for the brooding Adaptation, they mix up their styles to help articulate the backdrop of the lyrical concept the album is crafted around. Wistful moments of peaceful introspection, with lilting passages of stripped-down tenderness, crash against the heavier moments of mental confusion and disagreement as the central figure of the imagined flat earther struggles with their search for the truth and reality of the world around them.
In terms of song writing, this is probably the album’s finest moment, complete with swirling effects and top-notch musicianship. And of course, just over four minutes is quite enough restraint as the band then go flying off in a massive crescendo of heads down breathless rock and roll to put an exclamation point on it all.
Rounding out Flat Earth Rider is the epic length Bridges To Nowhere, Suncraft take just over ten minutes to try and craft something that combines every element of the five preceding songs. Condensing the elements of considered restraint alongside moments of pure rock and roll, the track does slightly creak and strain under the sonic gymnastics the band ask it to perform. If I was to be harsh, it feels as if they can’t seemingly decide whether to leave on a rich blissed out nod along or a face melting banger. However, overall it’s a solid effort and you’ll hear worse this year easily. If anything, their problem was the high bar they had set before it.
Flat Earth Rider is a great album. I hadn’t heard the band’s Siagon EP so this was my first introduction to them and it delights from start to finish. Suncraft aren’t reinventing the wheel, or trying to make any dramatic strides, with the music they produce, but they’re clearly having fun and have made an album that is the perfect sound track now the sun has finally decided to make an appearance.
This is a windows down, stereo up, wind in your face and no place in particular to be car journey, a refreshing and joyful cathartic release and full credit to them for putting that smile on my face.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden