PICK OF THE WEEK: Sunrot gleam bright light on otherwise bleak world with ‘The Unfailing Rope’

Photo by Dante Torrieri

We’ve repeatedly noted that the bulk of the metal landscape is immersed in darkness, hopelessness, despair, and sadness, and there’s nothing wrong with that, necessarily. Every now and again it would be nice to encounter a different force, something positive that while still battering you about the head and torso, doesn’t leave you wallowing in tears.

Jersey sludge doom pounders Sunrot aren’t following that same script, and the evidence is in their powerful second record “The Unfailing Rope.” Make no mistake: This stuff is as heavy as it comes, and it does have its thickening scar tissue to prove the trials and tribulations its creators—vocalist/noisemaker Lex Santiago, guitarists Christopher Eustaquio and Rob Gonzalez, bassist Ross Bradley, drummer Alex Dobrowolski—have sustained along the way and even while making this record. But locked inside this cacophony are thick strains of hope, healing, and forgiveness, tools we should be more willing to accept and share with one another in order to make life a little more bearable. Sunrot are trying to be a force for good, helping listeners achieve a sense of catharsis that can be achieved by the bloodletting that exists in these eight tracks. To help make this even more immersive, they’re joined by special guests Bryan Funck (Thou), Emily McWilliams, Scot Moriarty (Levels), and Blake Harrison (Pig Destroyer, Hatebeak) who add even more muscle to these titanic creations.

“Descent” is an intro track that’s built on orchestration that slowly decomposes, warbling voices crumbling, mechanical arms reaching into the cosmos. “Trepanation” follows and glows as it opens before the playing pounds away, Santiago’s howls lurching and driving into your chest. There’s a voice, unsteady but certain, talking about drilling a hole in the skull to achieve a measure of relief, Santiago following by wailing, “Drain me of impurities, equalize my being, resolve this crucible, achieve balance within,” as they are joined by the band unloading impossibly heavy power before melting into the cosmos. “Gutter” brings crunching riffs and wild howls, combining to up the ante of pressure and power. Moodiness hangs in the air before black metal-style playing churns, rampaging playing jolts, and hazy strangeness mixes with the clouds and warps the mind. “The One You Feed Part 2” starts with clean guitars before violent intent tears through flesh, the shrieks mashing massively, the stinging ambiance disappearing into the sky.

“The Cull” is a brief instrumental piece with noise welling and warped voices spiraling through your mind, feeling like an industrial storm raining nails. “Patricide” feels mournful and troubled as it starts, a track that’s flooded in absolute violence but is intended as a hopeful message to those who have suffered from abuse of power from loved ones. It’s sludgy and burly, and Santiago’s vocals feel like they’re disassembling your spinal volume as they howl, “Your virulent disposition, my formative castigation, I’ll kill you and your voice inside my head,” before a final resolution that promises to end the cycle of abuse. “Tower of Silence” is the longest track, running 11:02 and opening in eerie calm that stretches its arms. Howls punish as the track is both jarring and reflective, Santiago calling, “I found a home upon the pyre, a fire still burns but I am smothered, praying with outstretched palms past defleshed, future interred.” The misery thickens as everything is pulled apart limb by limb, serving muddy and intense drubbing, sounds barreling before spiraling into oblivion. “Love” is a perfect closer, feeling majestic as machines tremble, James Baldwin’s incredible speech weaving through the piece as he says, “Love has never been a popular movement, and no one’s ever wanted, really, to be free. The world is held together, really it is held together, by the love and the passion of a very few people.” The sounds swirl and sink into you, leaving you with a positive message, a reason to find the means to make someone else’s world a little better.

Sunrot have suffered through making “The Unfailing Rope,” they paid the price and decided it wasn’t going to be something that ended in anything but triumph. Yes, the music is volcanic, mean, volatile, but inside of it is a giant heart, a means to reach out to those who are hurting, have been abused, who were left out to fend for themselves. Heavy music doesn’t have enough positivity or bands willing to offer a hand up, but Sunrot have chosen a different path, and we are all better for that.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/sunrotmusic

To buy the album, go here: https://shop.prostheticrecords.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://prostheticrecords.com/

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