Released: 2007, Tabu Recordings
Reviewer: J. Campbell
Crafting the follow-up to a breakthrough album is a daunting task. Susperia’s 2004 release, UNLIMITED, catapulted the band to prominence. Its breakneck blend of futuristic European melodies, skull-cracking riffage, whip-smart drumming, and unabashed Testament worship elevated them from the wasteland of also-rans to the altar of forces-not-to-be-fucked-with. Three years later, they’ve unleashed CUT FROM STONE, a more streamlined effort, yet an entirely logical continuation of the aforementioned formula. While not as pointedly forceful, CUT FROM STONE is a much more balanced and mature release than its predecessor, be that for better or for worse.
The opening track, “More”, demolishes any doubts that may have accumulated upon viewing CUT FROM STONE’s atrocious cover art. All the ingredients of Susperia are represented perfectly: Athera belts his lyrics like a bitter, whiskey-soaked Chuck Billy; Cyrus and Elvorn’s guitars roll through galloping lines and spacey squeals; Tjodalv tours his kit in the same fashion that the Batmobile maneuvers Gotham rooftops; and somewhere underneath all of this…Memnock is probably plucking a bass. This track is sure to please crowds with its signature stylizations and its climatic chant of “More! More! More!”.
Failing to carry the momentum gained by the steamrolling opener, Susperia dabble in mid-paced numbers (with ever-so-subtle nods to Nevermore) for the remainder of the album’s first half. With a slick production job that would make Donn Landee envious, CUT FROM STONE’s midsection cruises along at a leisurely metallic pace. Until the bomb that is “Between The Lines” drops, that is. When it’s frantic, megaton SYL-style riff shifts abruptly into its soaring chorus, Susperia’s brilliance is blinding. This band’s strength is full-force domination, and they definitely flex their muscles on the last half of the disc.
The meat of this album is found in its back end; fans of UNLIMITED’s neckbreakers “Off The Grid” and “Home Sweet Hell” will find what they were looking for, but, admittedly, nothing quite reaches that level. And while the guitar solos have retreated a bit, the rhythms and melodies are as inventive as ever. The futuristic vibe hinted at on “Chemistry” last time around has been fully realized on icy cuts like “Under” and “Brother”. It’s obvious that they’ve become more comfortable with their direction, and they certainly haven’t been listening to THE GATHERING as much as in the past (if anything, this album is more akin to LOW).
While not as shockingly awesome as hoped, CUT FROM STONE is an undeniably solid effort, and one that is growing even more enjoyable with each spin. Oddly enough, something about these tracks recall the crisp freshness of Van Halen’s 1984 and 5150; this is the kind of album made for high-speed driving on summer nights, with the windows down and shit-grin applied. Not only is this a killer modern thrash metal record, but it’s a wicked rock-‘n-fucking-roll record. So swipe a beer, grab the keys, and take this beast for a ride.