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Sunbomb – Evil and Divine Award winner

Sunbomb
Evil and Divine
by Justin Joseph at 03 August 2021, 10:42 PM

SUNBOMB recently released their first full length album titled “Evil and Divine” on Frontier Music. If you’re not familiar with SUNBOMB, they are a Heavy Metal outfit formed in 2019, comprised of legends, Tracii Guns (L.A. GUNS) and Michael Sweet (STRYPER). Now confession time, even though I know of the legacy created by both musical artist, this is my first time being exposed to any material crafted by them. So for this review, I’ll be approaching it as new listener being ushered into these unknown waters. So how is it? Let’s find out!

Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, soooo I really freaking love this album! It’s a straight forward Heavy Metal album that doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but at the same time, it feels like it was plucked from the 1980’s timeline and inserted into present day with a more polished sound. There are allot of positives portrayed on this album, so let’s get right into it, starting with the sound. The album is a majestic juggernaut, it exudes this proud and Herculean atmosphere both vocally and instrumentally. Even though at its core, this is a Heavy Metal album, it contains some traces of 80’s Hard Rock as well as some Power Metal elements that I think strengthen the mixture. If a picture were to be painted, SUNBOMB would be a knight cloaked in gleaming armor, riding on his mighty beast leading his troop into glorious battle. I can’t stress enough how this album achieves the goal of emanating this grandiose ambience!

Michael Sweet’s voice here is one of the highlight on this magnum opus, for it breathes life into these tracks with a commanding presence in sync with Tracii Guns’ sonic riffing, together creating a symbiotic fusion that complements each other astoundingly. Take for instance, the first track, “Life”, this is a fast paced tempo song that does not deviate from its path. The vocals here are soaring in conjunction with the melody crafted from Tracii Guns. A highlight of the track is the chorus that is both catchy and mighty in nature, the vocal melodies emit a vibe of a story teller weaving a tale of epic proportion. I can’t help but say that there are some similarities to the late Ronnie James Dio’s voice and Michael Sweet. I mean this as a compliment as both possess a magical substance to the quality of their vocal patterns. Another highlight of this track and the album as a whole is the drumming, whereby the tone generated is thick, precise and thunderous. Listen to the fills starting at 2:33 which adds another dimension to the music and then is accentuated by the solo around the 2:53 mark that heightens the track to a new level. The second track, “Take Me Away” was a welcomed surprised as it feels like a homage to doom metal especially the early BLACK SABBATH material. It starts off with a slow droning riff that just oozes a heavy undertone to it, with the slow, creeping drum beats. The vocals here still inheriting the story teller’s spirit, but instead of recalling the tales of victorious battle won in the previous track, instead, it gives the vibe that the story being foretold is one of horror and caution rather one with much bravado and merit. It works efficiently in constructing that dreary atmosphere. The 3:20 mark represents a tonal shift from the bleaker atmosphere back into the somewhat mythical feel and this transition is supplemented by the solo at 4:30. If Sweet is the voice who erects the story with his words, Tracii is the bard who gives color and emotions to such tales woven with his melodies.

No Tomorrows” follows along the same grand vocal melodies as the previous songs, its Hard Rock oriented but one thing that stands out is the eerie noise that is produced during the chorus, more like a metallic slide. The drumming displayed here is also a positive, especially during the 2:22 mark where certain patterns are utilized that fills in the gaps within the song, making it more cohesive. One must mention the shift in tone during the 2:36 where the vocals take a soft spoken harmonious approach coupled with the slow paced strumming that forges a symphonic melodic section. But that is soon obliterated by the solo at 3:26, which then transcends into a higher vocal register that pierces the atmosphere of this track. Not to stray from the path, but another positive aspect of this album, is the solos. You will find that throughout all the songs, solos are a most frequent attribute, but where the positive shines are that the solos don’t feel mindlessly tacked on as if to say “hey look at me…I can shred”. Instead it flows natural, like a river curving through its path, meandering through rocks and bends. The solos feel like an extension of the actual track giving it a more organic sensation to it. “Born to Win” follows a more groove oriented pattern infused with punk elements. It’s the shortest track here, clocking in at close to three (3) minutes but it makes use of it quite well, especially with the frenzied riffing at 1:47 combined with the up-tempo drum beats. But…..I can’t just finish here without mentioning the solo at 2:08 which adds upon the fury-tempo of the song.

Evil and divine”, comes across as feeling like a follow up to “No Tomorrows” due to certain elements giving the impression of being cut from the same fabric. Variations of the riffs used in the previous song appears here but in different shade, even the same “metallic slide” makes another appearance throughout the chorus of “Evil and Divine” . You will notice that where SUNBOMB shines in this album is that every song offers something unique and different, even if it borrows components from other tracks. But, even though there may exist variation between tracks, the rhythmic sections from Tracii Guns, to me are the tendons which join all these songs to make the album feel like one singular entity. This diversity is showcased in the power ballad “Been Said and Done”, with that being said, its time to break out those lighters and point them to the sky while this track plays…. I’m just joking (kind of). This track follows the usual formula of a standard power ballad, but even though it’s a straight cut mold, it avoids being stale due to musical virtuosity between Michael Sweet’s vocals and the strumming by Tracii Guns. The song already casts a rather somber mood, but the solo at 2:52 injects much needed emotion into the track and this makes it stand out. My personal favorite is the final track, “They Fought”. The song is baptized in the aura of power metal and ends the album on a high triumphant note. This is a song I can see an audience singing along to, actually the album as a whole has that catchy appeal to it. The riffing feels like it borrows from the vein of Iron Maiden while the vocal patterns are more theatric and bombastic as higher notes are utilized more. Also, come on, I have to talk about the solo at 3:33 that polishes the track in a heroic manner.

Overall, if you could not tell already, I thoroughly enjoyed this album. I also think that fans of both musicians will as well. But most importantly I think this album can be a gate opener for newer listeners who may not even be acquainted with the genre and may seek to indulge their curiosity. It’s a great full length album that stands boldly on its own both instrumental and vocal wise. I do hope this duo continues making music in the foreseeable future, as the musical chemistry manufactured works to their advantage rather well.

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

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Life
2. Take Me Away
3. Better End
4. No Tomorrows
5. Born to Win
6. Evil and Divine
7. Been Said and Done
8. Stronger Than Before Wav
9. Story of the Blind
10. World Gone Wrong
11. They Fought
Lineup:
Tracii Guns -Guitars
Michael Sweet - Vocals
Mitch Davis - Bass
Adam Hamilton - Drums
Record Label: Frontiers Music
     


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