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Somnuri – Nefarious Wave Award winner

Nefarious Wave
by Paul LaPlaca at 26 July 2021, 8:09 AM

I don’t use the word, “genius” often when it comes to music, much in the same way I refuse to call the vast majority of players, “artists” but SOMNURI have done something really special on their follow-up to their self-titled debut in 2017. Taking the best elements of sludge, detuned grunge, and stoner vibes, this Brooklyn trio encompasses technical ability with an artistic sensibility that feels like painting with sound. The overall vibe is PENTAGRAM and SABBATH mixed with the very best of SOUNDGARDEN. There is a dark, foreboding foundation with spooky, reverb drenched harmonies floating over gut-wrenching screams. Seemingly disparate elements, flow together seamlessly and go straight to the heart and spine. The chill factor on many of these songs is overwhelming.

Opening track, “Tied To Stone” is deceptively simple and straightforward with layered shrieks and growls over a driving ¼ note snare beat, that flips over in the transition to a floating and swirling clean harmony with accompanying drum fills. The mid-section is glorious, slowing down to doom levels and soaring vocal harmonies that are just heartbreaking. It is both simultaneously familiar and completely unique. It brings to mind Mastadon, Voivod, COC with a thick, organic mix and production. And you have to give credit to Jeff Berner at Studio G Brooklyn, mixer Phil SanGiacomo and mastering engineer Justin Mantooth at Eureka Mastering because the tones and textures play an equal role to the actual songwriting and performance.

“Tooth and Nail” starts off with a slow grind before launching into a punishing beat. Vocals are a full-throated roar that establish the focus of the song with a powerful authority and then, like shifting waves of sand underneath, the drums shift to a half-time beat with the snare on the one with a haunting vocal above and then shifts AGAIN flipping the beat to an even slower feel. All these twists and turns are admirable but it’s the emotional impact each transition delivers that will lift you to the stratosphere. This is a BRILLIANT album. “Desire Lines” starts with a gentle, semi-distorted guitar punctuated by explosive drums and guitar accents that build into a flowing groove and an instant introduction of a soulful and expressive clean vocal. The melody lines are filled with such sadness and regret you’ll find yourself in a warm tub with a razor. A guitar melody sneaks in with an analog delay that brings to mind RADIOHEAD, then back to an unforgettable chorus.

“In the Grey” starts with a military type of snare approach with quiet sea-gull sounding guitars flying in the air. Without warning it turns to a Gatling Gun and guitar blast beat that tears your head off before serving you an almost Opeth style clean vocal chorus. SOMNURI is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. It blends so many styles and influences and offers so much variety it will hold any listener's attention but it is the marriage between the production and haunting clean vocals that deliver the most overwhelming emotional impact. I’ll say it again. GENIUS.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Tied to Stone
2. Tooth & Nail
3. Desire Lines
4. Beyond Your Last Breath
5. Watch the Lights Go Out
6. In the Grey
7. Nefarious Wave
Justin Sherrill – Guitar/Vocals/Bass
Phil SanGiacomo – Drums
Record Label: Blues Funeral Recordings


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Edited 21 September 2021

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