Sumerlands - Dreamkiller Music Album Reviews

Sumerlands - Dreamkiller Music Album Reviews
Producer Arthur Rizk’s band plays heavy metal in the traditional sense: catchy, operatic choruses and chugging riffs that you only need to hear once before you can air-guitar along.

Dreamkiller plays like the training montage soundtrack in an imaginary 1980s film where an unlikely, tormented protagonist faces terrible odds beneath a sky constantly on the verge of biblical rain. If this seems an oddly specific setting for a 35-minute metal album in 2022, then remember that Sumerlands is led by Arthur Rizk, the Philadelphia-based producer who’s had a hand in setting the atmosphere for many of the past decade’s most crucial heavy releases. With Sumerlands, he uses this gift for meticulous scene-setting to explore a very particular fantasy, building a dreamworld real enough to live inside.

This is heavy metal in the traditional sense: The songs have catchy, operatic choruses and chugging riffs that you only need to hear once before you can air-guitar along, all presented with a high-quality gloss so it doesn’t take much to imagine them blasting from the speakers in an arena. “We dance on the edge of a knife/So much closer to death than to life,” the quintet’s new vocalist Brendan Radigan commands in one of the record’s best choruses, with absolutely no context for why our situation is so urgent or precarious. And yet we know exactly what he’s talking about: In fact, we are right there with him—dancing, raging, defying mortality.

Accordingly, the pleasure of this music is somewhat counterintuitive to usual metrics of good taste. Between Rizk and guitarist John Powers, there is an unspoken agreement: Why let one note of a solo ring when you can embellish it with a ton of little hammer-ons? Why say “I’m feeling sad” when you could say “The stars have freed a million sorrows to the winds”? Should Radigan’s voice—a sharp blast of autumn wind, soaring through desert plains—be presented organically to showcase his natural talent? Not even remotely: It must be coated in unearthly effects so that when he harmonizes with himself it sounds like a keyboard on the church organ setting. Does a song called “Force of a Storm” that incorporates imagery of a “tempest” and “shelter lost” and people “cast into the fray” get the message across? Not without thunder sound effects to really seal the deal.

In other words, subtlety is not the goal. The musicianship is meant to inspire awe at the uncanny, studio-tweaked precision, and the words are meant to summon vast, eternal feelings. Innovation is not the point either. The familiarity and immediacy of the music are crucial to its appeal. At the same time, what other recent record sounds like this? Dreamkiller is too inspired, too heartfelt, to be filed away as mere pastiche. Compared to the doomier, Sabbath-indebted haze of 2016’s self-titled debut, Dreamkiller adopts a warmer tone, closer to classic rock. If the pleasure of Sumerlands was imagining the sound of some rejected demo tape unearthed in an old metalhead’s basement, then Dreamkiller aspires toward a kind of bargain-bin ubiquity. Songs like “Edge of a Knife” and “Twilight Points the Way” could have been hits in another era—singalongs for football stadiums, uniting the dorks and jocks in the bleachers.

Despite the big picture drama, Rizk uniquely understands the importance of nuance. Crucial choices in the production and arrangements keep the songs’ balance of ridiculousness and craftsmanship at an optimal level. Rizk has a Stratocasters Only rule in the studio (fed through Marshall stacks) but even those uninterested in the associated gear will note how joyfully each element blends into the mix: how the woozy, fiery solo hits three and a half minutes into the title track, or how the fade-in riff of “Night Ride” signals an evening filled with danger and adventure. On any given listen, any of these moments could feel like the climax. It’s a record built to be replayed, transforming us all into the leads in the action movie playing on loop somewhere deep in our subconscious.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Sumerlands - Dreamkiller Music Album Reviews Sumerlands - Dreamkiller Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on October 12, 2022 Rating: 5


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