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Sutrah Explores Death Metal’s Complexities with “Effervesce”

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Another day, another Quebecois death metal band. This time, though, it’s not a Beyond Creation or First Fragment clone. Think more along the lines of Intonate, with an old school Martyr twist. Technical for sure, but not at the expense of rockability or cohesion, i.e. something which sounds unfamiliar, but immediately classic. The name is Sutrah, and their upcoming debut album Dunes foregoes the usual reliance on raw speed and aggression in lieu of a more tactical approach. Check out an exclusive stream of the album’s third track “Effervesce” below.

With ever-modulating pace and tempo, “Effervesce” feels nimble even during its most intricate arrangements. Sutrah definitely understands the value of straightforwardness, like with the riff which ties the unsettling introduction (more on that in the band’s statement below) into the song’s remainder. But even their most complex guitar and bass lines don’t feel ridiculous, even though they really are finger-twisters. To its benefit, Dunes isn’t hyper-produced — just the right amount of rawness to it — but the bass rings out clearly, and the guitars are not always given primary focus. This results in an easier listen than expected, and perhaps a more enjoyable one at that.

“Effervesce” also features extremely precise and foot-happy drumming to tie things together, but again, forced aggression is not the driver here (though the vocals do take a harder-edge approach). That said, Sutrah know how to land a gut-punch: just check out the album’s penultimate track “The Plunge” here when you’re done listening to “Effervesce.” If these two tracks together say anything, it’s that Dunes as a whole will comprise a technical sprawl — from hammering, forthright death metal to mind-boggling instrumental calisthenics — but with refreshing order and smoothness.

Dunes releases on September 22nd and can be pre-ordered here.

From the band:

The instruments used in the intro of “Effervesce” are reyongs, one of the many instruments that constitute a Gong Kebyar ensemble from Bali Island in Indonesia. The Gong Kebyar is one of the leading types of Balinese gamelan (literally “orchestra” in Indonesian) of the past century in both sacral music and innovative compositions. The reyongs themselves are small gongs made of bronze and aligned in a row, played by four musicians to ornament melodies played by other instruments. Here, of course, they are used in a very different context and also deprived of the dozens of other melodic percussions that usually make the gamelan whole.

However, we still applied a key concept in Balinese music: the notion of “interlocking” melodies, or kotekan in The Balinese language. Basically, the idea is to split a melodic line into two groups of players so the result can only be heard when both parts lock together. Individually, these patterns sound like simple rhythms played on no more than two notes, but when combined together they create rich, complex melodies and harmonies that obey certain implicit rules. In Bali, this technique is used most notably to play incredibly fast melodies and ornamentations that could not possibly be played by a single musician. In “Effervesce,” we applied this basic idea to build a kotekan that imitates the first guitar riff.

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