Sunfather - Sunfather
Self Release
Stoner Doom
5 songs (30' 9")
Release year: 2017
Reviewed by Andy

Memphis-based quintet Sunfather's self-titled debut, arriving a couple of days before this review, describes itself as "A vain attempt to capture the crushing blackness of space". Vain? Well, maybe so, but it is definitely crushing, and yes, quite black. The harsh result of their attempt contains elements of both stoner doom and black metal.

The sound of the guitar is abrasive and noise-filled, with dull, bluesy riffs. Bassist Shawn Mullins croaks the vocals raggedly in a black metal style, and in the background you can hear thin, faint keyboard background, complete with phaser effects. Basilisk Rex, starting out with grim slowness, bursts halfway through the song into a fast-moving bridge overlaid with a nice guitar solo and some rhythm riffs that call to mind classic Iron Maiden, though tremolo-picking and floods of guitar noise alter the vibe. The black-metal hallmarks continue through other tracks on the album, diving in and out between the doom beats that dominate the majority of the album.

The space themes themselves are left to the keyboards, which do a decent job of conveying that at least in Magnetar's weird theremin-styled chord progressions -- in fact, Magnetar comes closest to the atmosphere of crushing cosmic strangeness that Sunfather seems intent on producing. The keyboards also balance the heavy but often run-of-the-mill sound of the stoner riffs by providing an eerie counterpoint to them, but there is a sense that this is still a work in progress. The ambient portions of the record, the most interesting and experimental parts, sound like the band isn't quite sure how to integrate them with their sound, and based on their Facebook page, it sounds like they may be history by next album. Too bad, if that's so -- the final few minutes of Osireion, their last track, comprise one of the most intriguing portions of the album, a noisy jam descending downward paired with some neoclassical piano.

Sunfather's on to something here, and it'll be pretty neat if they stick with it, though there's still a lot that doesn't quite fit together, especially the space themes set against the band's natural impulses -- their sound probably isn't ready yet to boldly go where no stoner doom has gone before. It's still heavy as hell and the ambient experimentation is good, so it's worth checking out.


Killing Songs :
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