Sunsmasher - Hell/Noise/Church (4 stars)

Sunsmasher - Hell/Noise/Church

A full-on assault of hardcore-infused speedfreak black metal

Continuing the tradition started with 2011’s Mammothian/Loud/Cult, Glasgow’s foremost purveyors of total misery Sunsmasher return with a second self-descriptively titled release. It’s been a while since the first one, but with the members involved in a couple of dozen projects between them (including Fat Janitor, Chronocide, Big Hogg and the indie comic book The Steamin’ Headmaster), their tardiness can be forgiven. Mixed by Kevin Hare (ex of Black Sun, now an expert sculptor of heaviness) and mastered by the legendary James Plotkin (Phantomsmasher/Khanate/OLD), there’s very little chance of this three-track EP being a soporific pastoral frolic through a spring meadow. In fact, it’s more like waking up with a three-day hangover. In a hailstorm. In the Necropolis.

Anyone expecting the kind of iron-booted doom trawl that characterised the band’s first EP will be floored by the opening moments of lead track ‘Axe to Grind’. This is a full-on assault of hardcore-infused speedfreak black metal, a barrage of drums and distortion and anger. At the mid-point, it slows to an ominous relative crawl, a massive cyclical riff adorned with eerie wails in its dying moments. The more traditionally trudging but still superb ‘Redeemer’ follows, Sabbath/Sleep-infused but nastier, a succession of jagged, murderous riffs. ‘Perdition’ shows the band continuing to diversify, its vast slabs of down-tuned filth interwoven with intricate patterns more at home in thrash/prog-metal. The closing third is given over to an ingravescent wave of deliciously horrible and utterly wrong guitar noise, presumably courtesy of new recruit Billy Gaughan (also of extreme shoegaze outfit The Cherry Wave), sounding like a hoover, an old-school dial-up modem and a howler monkey in a three-way erotic deathmatch.

As undoubtedly adept as they are at their default mode of sadistic doom brutalism, it’s massively exciting to hear Sunsmasher stretching out into bold new areas with such ease and confidence. What’s more, it’s clear that this is only the beginning.

Self-released from Sun 2 Mar. Sunsmasher play at Plan B bookshop, Glasgow, Fri 4 Apr, see Facebook for more info.

Sunsmasher - Daemonologie

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