Sunless is a band from Minnesota created in 2014 and comprised of four members. With heavy influences from dissonant death metal acts such as Gorguts and Ulcerate, and a surprising audio quality considering it’s labeled a demo, Sunless will most certainly get people talking, and chances are that Demo 2016 is only the first of many great albums they put out. But why is it so good?
If you haven’t noticed already, it dwells on dissonance, and equipoises technicality with atmosphere. Indeed, the very first, lone arpeggiated and distorted chord from the song Born of Clay immediately screams “You’ve come to the right place!” It’s disharmonic and gnarly, and goes straight to the point: only after a little less than four repetitions, the rest of the band jumps in in anticipation and develops on this initial chord with some technical tricks from everyone, but most notably the bass and drums, which really seem to be driving the song forward, and a nice collection of time signatures in which it’s very easy to get lost because of everything’s that’s going on. Then, tempo change and we’re introduced to the singer, who you may know from his other bands, “Pestifere” and “Australis”. Haunting chords, bellowing bass, blast beats, and death growls… now we’re in some meat! Throughout the song, the focus goes back and forth between vocal and instrumental music, the latter of which tends to be a bit more complex, probably because the singer is also one of the guitarists. I also like the prominence of the bass in the mix, thanks to its very clanky sound.
The second and last song, Aberrant Clime, is half as long as the first, but retains all the good elements from it. At this point, it’s more of the same, and I couldn’t be happier. Not only did Sunless draw on some of my favourite death metal bands’ sound, they managed to birth a personality of their own from the womb of this demo, and not only chew and spit what has already been brought to the table. The song ends abruptly at the end of a verse, and we’re left with an inextinguishable lust for more. There’s a few simple remedies to that: you can loop the demo to your heart’s content, there’s more than enough stuff to pick up on in there to be worth consecutive listening sessions, and the material at hand is of the highest quality. When you’re done exploring the intricacies of this demo, you can still go back to listening to Ulcerate, Gorguts, Baring Teeth, Nono Cerchio, Kvøid, or Ur Draugr, among others. Alternatively, you can also stream another demo song, “C”, on their soundcloud page; it’s an earlier version of Aberrant Clime and it’s instrumental, but there still are some kicks to get from it!
In general conclusion: a big heap of harsh noise, with dissonant chords, metallic bass, aggressive drums, screams of pain and anger, a ton of odd time signatures, a handful of tempo alterations, and jagged song structures, is – one would assume, at this point – a winning recipe! Sunless has merely about eight minutes and a half of music, and they’re some of the best of 2016 yet! It’s rare that I treat demo albums with a review, but given the astounding quality of this one, I had no choice, this is sublime!