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Sunless – Ylem

by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 23 October 2021, 8:12 AM

Part two of a trilogy, “Ylem” builds upon the concept and lyrical theme of the band's independently released debut album, “Urraca,” by reinforcing the mysticism of the previous album while exploring new themes of displacement, fear, wonder, and transcendence. With the addition of a new drummer and an evolving approach to songwriting, SUNLESS further develops their signature sound with increasingly diverse, dense, and technical offerings. Best consumed whole, the experience of “Ylem” is as harrowing as it is satisfying, one rife with dissonant melodies and complex rhythmic structures, certain to leave an indelible mark on the listener's psyche. The album contains eight tracks.

“Spiraling into the Unfathomable” leads off the album. It opens with dissonant tones and a heavy, weighted sound, with drums rolling, and some serious meter shifting. The vocals are deep and guttural, while the snare pings remind you to keep track of the drummer…he’s a good one for sure. “Ascended Form” is shorter song, but with no less intensity. Heavy, dissonant tones reign here, with some technical flair. “The Unraveling of Arcane Past” is yet another aggressive and despondent offering without much in the way of melody. The bass player comes through strong here, dancing in and around the rhythms of the guitars.

“Atramentous” is another hard-hitting track with a lot of staccato accents and some very harrowing harsh vocals. At times it seems the band is almost lost in their own sea of complicated sounds, yet they always find their way back. This is merely an illusion. “Flesh-Particle Amalgamation” brings more dissonant tones to the table. This is clearly a main feature on the album. The constant pounding of the drums reverberated in your entire chest cavity. Towards the end, a cold wind swirls about. “Forgotten (Remnants of Life)” picks up with the cold winds, and there is a fade in of drums, bass, and guitars. Taylor Hamel is a beast on the kit. The sheer number of time changes is proof of that.

“Perpetual Contortion” brings a similar sound. An extended instrumental passage shows the band’s immense talent, but at what cost? At times, the music sounds cold and sterile to me. But I suppose there is nothing wrong with that. “Molding Axioms of the Metaphysical” rounds out the album. It’s a longer song, but with similar sounds again. The sheer number of various riffs and chord structures here is nearly impossible to keep up with. Beyond that however, I remain unsure of what the album represents as a whole. Eight tracks of this deep, complicated sound passes almost an eternity of time, though I was somewhat anxious for the head pounding to end.

Though the musicianship is very strong here, many of the deep and heavy tracks sound very similar to one another. The band moves with the pacing of a season act, each part clicking into the other with deadly accuracy. But the album never slows to breathe at all. Some people really like this unrelenting attack on your senses, but I prefer some more diversity in my music. Overall, however, a solid release with dazzling displays of musicianship.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 5
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

1. Spiraling into the Unfathomable
2. Ascended Form
3. The Unraveling of Arcane Past
4. Atramentous
5. Flesh-Particle Amalgamation
6. Forgotten (Remnants of Life)
7. Perpetual Contortion
8. Molding Axioms of the Metaphysical
Mitch Schooler – Bass
Lucas Scott – Guitar and Vocals
Taylor Hamel – Drums
Record Label: Willowtip Records


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