Review: Sundowner ‘Lysergic Ritual’

Surging out of ‘straya, Adelaide’s Sundowner describes their sound as ‘uneasy listening for troubled times’. That’s an apt description for the band’s brand of bubbling and incendiary sludge metal with its tumultuous blend of enraged roars, cesspool-strewn guitar riffing and d-beat hardcore attack. If you want your slow and heavy daily tunes to be less about ‘Let’s roll up a joint’ and more ‘Life sucks, pass the questionable moonshine’, these Aussie are likely to have the scratch for your inflamed and bloody itch.

Sundowner 'Lysergic Ritual' Artwork
Sundowner ‘Lysergic Ritual’ Artwork

The superbly titled Degenerate Subculture is a bruising blend of Bongzilla’s wanton brutality with Dystopia’s misanthropic outlook. The production is suitable and brings clarity through all the razor wire vocals and pummeling instrumentation.

The album’s title track Lysergic Ritual is Iron Monkey 101 with a nice switch between riveting hardcore rhythms and the sloggy bluesy breakdowns. Despite the name, the band’s sound is anything but LSD inspired. Oh, it’s acid related… but more closely to the corrosive kind rather than the trip-out kind.

Substance Abuse is a filth-drenched ode to its subject matter, while 13 Foot High drops the listener from said height into a snarling mass of sonic brambles below and similarly could be said about Mobile Kill Room. No sludge album would be complete without a sample from an old news bit or public domain film, as Defilement retells the account of a female serial killer against the backdrop of caustic feedback.

Lysergic Ritual delivers the nasty and dirty aplomb you’d expect of a sludge metal record…

The High Priestess is by far the most overtly ‘stoner’ offering, a fine track for headbanging/beardbanging with beer in hand. The final track, Paranoia Sect, is a suitable closer at a seven-plus minute run. That being said, the problem with the record is ultimately a familiar one in this scene. Simply put, much of Sundowner’s output is familiar and short on innovation.

Much of this style has already been conquered by the likes of EyeHateGod, Dopethrone, Weedeater, Buzzov*en as well as the aforementioned Iron Monkey and Bongzilla (the vocals are a dead ringer for Muleboy). The execution is excellent, but I simply could not shake the feeling that I’ve heard this before.

Even so, Lysergic Ritual delivers the nasty and dirty aplomb you’d expect of a sludge metal record. If the weight of the world has got you down, your landlord is fixing to throw you out, the Australian sun has burnt your upper buttocks and you just want to get a drink and let loose for a good minute, Lysergic Ritual has just what you need.

Label: Independent
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Rob Walsh