Review Summary: When you thought SUMA couldn’t get any heavier, here they are proving us wrong.
The über heavy Swedish act SUMA started as a stoner metal outfit that blended desert grooves with doom leanings. Their potential was observed yet it required more to stand out in between the myriad of bands which sound the same. Thankfully, in 2006 they released Let the Churches Burn
, a sludge/doom/noise behemoth widely regarded as their finest achievement so far. Its success lay in the calibration of those styles amid stoner grooves. Four years later, Ashes
slowed down a gear, delivering some brutal riffs among brooding ambient passages. Their DIY approach and infrequent LP crafting has turned them into a hidden gem, becoming big enough to achieve worldwide recognition, without turning into a corporation like many do these days.
Besides passing six years since Ashes
saw the light of day, 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of Let the Churches Burn
. As people have been left waiting for a long time, expectations have considerably grown. During this downtime some changes have occurred: vocalist Jovan departed, his role being taken by bassist Johan, whereas a new member, Rick was added to take care of samples, noise & drones. As thought, The Order of Things
is another win for the guys. It continues their forays into goddamned heavy territory, often indulging in relentless onslaught. ‘Bait for Maggots’ and ‘RPA’ kick incredibly hard using fuzz-drenched guitars and low, distorted bass lines. The pounding drums, which focus a lot on toms, floor toms and loud cymbals (bringing Neurosis to mind), do half of the work as they drive both the rhythm section and add substantial weight to the tracks. At times, sharp leads, screamed vocals & sound manipulation find their way through this murky wall to create an unsettling atmosphere, thus complementing the others very well. Rick takes the lead on opener, ‘Sick Present’ and ‘Being and/or Nothingness’, twisting synth lines among looping feedback or samples for an apocalyptic feel.
On the latter half, we find ‘Education for Death’, a crushing epic that builds up for 9 minutes through explosive kicks on top of which excessively echoed/reverbed vocals shout in the distance. When everyone finally unleashes, a ponderous riff boasting scorching guitars trudges along. Moreover, an incredibly piercing coda burns everything down, leading into ‘Disorder of Things’, the shortest fully formed cut. Our journey intensifies to the extreme here as SUMA keep battering with all their force until it can’t get any louder. Finally, we reach to the end through ‘The Greater Dying’, a track which borrows from post-metal territory. Starting with a delayed guitar lead, the band bursts into a barbarous mid-part where soaring vocals are added, as well as uncanny keyboard leads among layers of noise. Closing such a grandiose odyssey, the guys needed to go out in style. Although it doesn’t rely as much on groove as before, the album comes across as a mix between its two predecessors.
In the end, just when I thought SUMA can’t get any heavier, the band proves us wrong. This hour-long mammoth is a visceral reminder of their sheer power and a fresh offering that is just as good as Let the Churches Burn
, if not better. There is a lot to take in, yet after a couple of spins The Order of Things
gets under your skin. Even so, I am amazed how this excess they constantly dabble in paid off. Very few bands manage to do it without failing. As a blend of doom, sludge, noise and stoner with an excellent production, courtesy of Billy Anderson, this LP is one of the most consistent I have heard in a while. Dig it!