Picture the scene, its two thousand and thirteen, and your band, ‘Satellite Beaver’, is on the verge of greatness. Do you stick with the name, or have a little rebrand, and start forging a path for an incredible legacy, filled with quality tunes, and four absolutely kick ass albums? Well, coming in to twenty twenty-one, with a behemoth of a new album, ready to stamp their name firmly on the world stage, and take those previous glories to a new level come Sunnata.
Claiming Warsaw in Poland as their home, this stoner doom quartet are coming, ready to shake your little world, and fill it full of new noisiness. Unleashing their fourth album, Burning In Heaven, Melting On Earth, Sunnata are bringing the noise, and if you like things in a doom, sludge, grungy and psychedelic vane, then this is gonna fill ya boots, and then some.
The new album sees the band wanting to explore different ideas, and connotations of the themes of religious fanaticism. But fear not, this isn’t a preaching to any choir sort of experience, unless you worship in the temple of the stoner doom lords, that is.
Burning In Heaven, Melting On Earth is a six track, forty-four minute sonic experience, full of body, without any moments of overindulgence at all. Right off the bat, I would just like to say that I loved this album, and implore everyone to go and source out a copy as quickly as they can, because this is exactly where metal, as a genre, needs to be in the twenty first century.
It’s fully bodied, considered, and expertly played. It’s not full of pointless passages of nonsense, or filler, and is, in my own humble opinion, as evolved as this whole genre of music can be, without over playing, or under selling, a classic, potentially in the making. From opener Crows, I’m hooked, it’s like the bastard off spring of The Ocean, Mastodon, and Mark Lanegan, having drunk a lot of whiskey, and experimenting with how to improve on already created formulas.
Throughout the whole album I’m completely drawn in by the bass playing in particular, and right from the opening bars of Crows this is evident. Mix to that the trademark Lanegan swagger, some chugging guitars, pounding drums, and you’re on to a winner. Yes, the vocal changes back and forth between singing and growling, but that only adds to the layers on this fantastical opening track. I also find myself noticing some Alice In Chains undertones, so it’s already won my heart, and we aren’t even five minutes in yet.
it’s like the bastard off spring of The Ocean, Mastodon, and Mark Lanegan, having drunk a lot of whiskey, and experimenting with how to improve on already created formulas…
God Emperor Of Dune introduces itself amid spiritual and tribal soundscapes, so when the chanted vocal accompaniment creeps in, its dark and somewhat psychedelic mood darkens to a new level. Again, in the mix I notice a somewhat grungy presence, and I’m reminded of The Screaming Trees in particular. Maybe it’s the vocal, or maybe it’s the tone, or even the mood, but its dark and doomy feel really inspires those comparisons.
A Million Lives with its trippy doom feel, its slowed vibe and pounding drums, I ponder on how to best describe the experience I’m having, and then it hits me, there’s a real Stoned Jesus parallel going on. Its very stoner, but in a real laid-back way, somewhat similar to what Stoned Jesus do. Later, as I go on to research the band, I find that Sunnata have played with Stoned Jesus before, and it all makes sense. Two bands, similar vibe, the perfect pairing.
Black Serpent continues on the path, and with its raspy bass and driving guitars, it powers on, running us through, deeper, and darker, in to the world of Sunnata. Völva (The Seeress) rolls in with more of that dark and menacing chanting, and as it cruises through, I notice that grungy Alice In Chains vibe again. Dark and dank, it plays through, and I draw comparison to their Dirt era, it has that whole vibe running over it.
As Way Out pulls us neatly into the final stage of the album, its dark and doomy feel shows no sign of letting up. It powers along, at times with a psychedelic and trippy feel, yet all the while with that monolithic bassline driving through, as expressive and atmospheric guitar laces in and out organically. It’s a pleasure to hear, and leaves me completely satisfied.
As the album finishes, and the quiet returns, I’m quick to get up and restart the album, which I guess is the best sign really. If it had been an ‘okay’ album, maybe I would have settled for changing it while I wrote this review up. That being said, my want to hear it again, made me press play without hesitation, and that, for me, truly is the start of an ongoing love for this new addition to my music catalogue.
In a year that didn’t start so bright, this album truly is a glimmer of light, shining amongst all the doom and gloom, and I implore you to check it out, and see for yourselves.
Scribed by: Lee Beamish