In the last couple years, I’ve fallen squarely in love with the doom metal genre. Still, I’m always impressed when a band came produce something different in a genre that can often sound similar from one album to the next. Sunnata definitely have their own sound, and their new album “Burning in Heaven, Melting on Earth” is a fantastic example. The album released on February 26th.
Sunnata come from Poland. You don’t hear of many Polish doom metal bands, do you? Though they are novel in that way, they do share their country’s penchant for darkness and melancholy. The band consists of Szymon Ewertowski on vocals and guitars, Adrian Gadomski on guitars, Robert Ruszczyk on drums, and and Michal Dobrzanski on bass.
The band produces what they called “shamanic” doom. That is certainly true with their focus on sacred, ritualistic, haunting atmospheres and lyrics. Yet, the band really rocks, too, with heavy influence from Alice in Chains and grunge in general. You will hear plenty of hypnotic, psychedelic interludes and instrumentals, too, which can leave listeners in a haze. The band’s sound is certainly an effective one, fraying nerves while also satisfying cravings for heavy, groovy, and stunning metal.
The vocals here are a mix between harsh and clean, leaning more towards the latter. These clean vocals from Szymon are absolutely wonderful in my view. While “beautiful” might not be the right term for them, he offers a performance that is unique, droning, and unsettling at times. Yet, you will find yourself singing along with him or humming along with the spacey, monastic harmonies. Yet, this album is more than vocals. Szymon and Adrian’s guitars have real bulk and bite to them, and I find that I appreciate them more on every listen. Robert’s drums and Michal’s bass are a stunning rhythm section that really sets the band apart in this genre. With mighty and varied percussion and burning bass lines, this album will groove its way into your neural network.
All six tracks are fantastic. “Crows” is the eerie opener that starts the album at an atmospheric, bass-heavy pace. Before long, though, the song explodes with powerful guitar work that feels very purposeful. The following song is probably my favorite overall, “God Emperor of Dune”. This blackened track has a strong bass groove and promenading beat that will get your head bobbing; in many ways, this song is more ambient than anything else, which is probably why I like it so much. The following song “A Million Lives” is just as good, though. This song would have worked well as a single because of its more straightforward presentation. It is heavy and incredibly catchy.
The second half of the album is strong, too, though. “Black Serpent” really gets going at a chipper pace, and its distorted textures will make you feel like you are somehow phasing into the entire experience. “Völva (The Seeress)” is possibly the most unnerving, ritualized song on the album. It feels like darkness and yet somehow like beauty, too. Its climax near the end has some of my favorite vocal moments on the record.
Finally, the album ends with “Way Out”. It does feel like a door out of the intimidating aura that this album casts. While the first half of the song is rhythmic and hypnotic, the closing minutes are surprisingly melodic with a great guitar tone, and the eventual fade out is such a gratifying moment.
Sunnata has my attention. Combining doom with ritual and more accessible rock elements, the album has a huge presence, one that lumbers, grooves, and hovers with grace and evocation. It is like entering a different world altogether, and it becomes an experience that is memorable, beckoning us to embrace it fully. This album is going to keep growing on me, I know it.
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