Reviewed: October 2021
Released: 2017, Willowtip Records
Reviewer: Kat Knite
American death-metal band Sunless have made significant impact in recent years with their unique and outside-the-box take on the genre, melting groove and chaos together in their bottomless cauldron of creation. Honouring legendary bands like Gorguts and Gojira, they write music in the vein of death-metal icons without alluding to imitation or parody, maintaining a solid foundation in the style without sacrificing personal authenticity. Bold, fearless, and yet somehow tactful, their songs speak for themselves in a persona of brutal intellect – confident and even flashy, but never cocky.
Kicking off a trilogy of records is their 2017 release Urraca, a nine-track beautiful beast of an album that winds its journey through your core as you fall back into its exhilarating embrace. Dissonant progressions which verge on the potential of clashing are held in focus by intriguing chromaticism and timely breakdowns, exemplified by the opener, ‘Wishes Fallen on Deafened Ears’, which sets the mind-bending tone for the rest of the record. Disorder and mayhem amplify further in ‘Gathering at the Skulls Eye’, where Mitch Schooler & Ben Iburg show off some breathtaking skills on rhythm while Lucas Scott elaborates on the soundscape with his guitar, filling out the tracks with his full and gravelly vocal tone, providing a very welcomed and much needed warmth to an atmosphere hell bent on destruction.
‘Aberrant Clime’ comes down looming like a cloud of terror through eternally darkened and stormy skies, unpredictable and vile enough to give me shivers, but not quite so as to make me feel ill. Through the unstoppable avalanche that is ‘Born of Clay’ comes another of their signature breakdowns. Creepy, slimy, and almost grungy, it gives a haunted madhouse vibe and sets the song apart. As we come down from the high the music feels as though it is breaking an apocalyptic cloud of doom to reveal the damage done by this menace. Cascading through the progressing turmoil on the record, we finally reach the heaviest piece and grand finale: ‘Disintegration of Man’. A solid mid-tempo killer with standout structural patterns, this song is accentuated by low growls and intricate changes – but not so variegated that one may lose the plot! Ending the album on a rush, I feel as though I’ve come off a massive rollercoaster in the middle of the night, disoriented and on another planet, but in the best of ways.
Sunless weave theatrics int0 Urraca, and showcase fantastic storytelling for those who crave the extreme side of musical experience. Make sure to get your copy of Urraca here, and get yourself prepared for part 2 of the trilogy, Ylem, upon its release at the end of October!