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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Sludge: SUMMONUS

To all you Aussies reading this, I'm sorry. Maybe we could also call today's feature our "Monday Mire." I failed to realize you guys live anywhere from 16 to 19 hours ahead of us ugly Americans. Today we're celebrating Sydney's Summonus, a sludge/doom four-piece that'll have you wishing you'd spent the extra cash and gotten those Ground Hawg tires. Good luck crawling from this thickness.

Formed in 2007, Summonus have compiled an impressive resumé as a supporting act of metal giants Mastodon, Baroness, and Black Cobra, to name a few. On 2011's Zeichen Der Hexe, they demonstrate their case for top-billed status. Characterized by low, riff-based girth, the eight slabs contained herein are a perfect companion to having your teeth knocked into your throat.

From the onset of Novacula, you gather Summonus have meticulously honed their moss-caked, apocalyptic rhythms by cranking the fuzz, riding the wind, and embracing more than a hint of madness. Lumbering and stomping through this cloaked opener, the band picks up the tempo on The Road Less Travelled. Even grimier than the sticky cadence is Rod Hunt's burly growl. Flattening all it can, the song plods and slows to a bass pluck/riff marquee. Summonus won't kick in your door. They'll just knock down every wall.

The influence of Sabbath and Cathedral is evident on tracks like Embodiment and Black Sun Dying. The swinging pendulum marches through foggy timber, as Keith Livingstone (bass) and Nathan Millett (drums) set a tone that grows slower and hits harder with each note. Hunt's vocals are peppered with wet gravel and Trav Byron's guitar will leave you indifferent to your bubbled, blistered skin.

Sandwiched between the dirge and the drone is the southern-guitar roll of Wasteland. And when you think about it, Sydney can boast to being far more southern than just about every southern-fried hillrod band we already love. The song is fuzzier and friendlier than its predecessors, with a quick romp through Thunderdome that kicks sand into your eyes and shatters any argument that Summonus won't shift into high gear.

Translating to "Mark of the Witch," Zeichen Der Hexe's title track best encapsulates the band's sound. Though slightly more accessible than the album's endless doom stomp, licks grind as a spooky bass thump holds down listeners with a steel-toed boot. You'll sink in quicksand just until a stoner breakdown pulls you free and Byron lays down solos that'll pin your jaw to your chest.

Crusty, medieval, and darker than your girlfriend's hidden past, Zeichen Der Hexe is Summonus stepping from the shadows and stating their case as a band you need to hear. They'll share your lament, they'll embrace the imminent cloud cover, they'll moan as you plow rain-soaked fields. But they won't laugh at your shit-caked boots. Their doom/sludge hybrid is filthier than anything you'll step in today. And it sounds awesome.

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