Thanks to Brainwashed for another nice review.
A limited cassette release of an even more limited CD-R, Chicago's Sun Splitter, in the span of around 30 minutes, condense all of what I consider to be the best moments of the past 40 years of metal. With elements of drone, doom, industrial, and even classic rock, it all comes together as a perfectly conceived release.
Land of Decay
Admittedly, I've never been a huge metal person. I find bands and albums that I enjoy, but it's not a scene I ever really immersed myself in, largely because whenever I did, I got burnt out rather quickly. It's also one where I find elements I love (big, heavy riffs, melodic solos) with ones I'm not so fond of (growled vocals, "shredding"). It's almost like this trio knew what I liked and tailored the album for my tastes.
For example, "Cairn of Old Eyes" opens with taut, rhythmic riffs over a stiff machine beat, but with changing sounds and structures, it has the complexity of prog rock without the unnecessary pretense. Along with this there’s more than a healthy dose of drawn out guitar tones and whispered, mantra like vocals. Closer "Carrion Eater" is cut from the same cloth, opening with similar vocals and a warm guitar tone, but focuses more on the melody, even with the big riffs.
"Northern Blood Tithe" has some of the dual rhythm guitar/drum machine combo sound that has garnered many comparisons to early Godflesh, but there’s just as much Sabbath to be heard. The melodic elements reminded me of mid-period Thin Lizzy, but that’s pretty much my only go-to touchstone for the '70s rock genre. As a whole it's slower, more spacious, with vocals so buried and processed they sound like an additional instrument more than anything else.
It follows the same template as "Earth Burner," in that both are more doomy and repetitious, but in a carefully measured way. The repetition in both serve to build tension, with "Earth Burner" slowly adding changes in to keep the track dynamic, but without interrupting the deliberate drone structure.
With a style that is reminiscent of many, but sounds like none, Sun Splitter has created one of the best metal albums without adhering to any specific conventions. There's melody, there's monolithic guitar riffs, there's dark, bleak ambience, and so much more that comes together so perfectly that I can't help but love this tape.