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Sutrah’s “Lethe” Flat-Out Confirms that Death Metal is High Art

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All hail death metal. And it’s been a minute for me: with all the black metal and doom I consume, death metal sometimes goes woefully unattended. This effect shifts around from genre to genre depending on so many factors, but suffice it to say that this particular tolerance break has gone on far too long. When I heard Sutrah‘s upcoming Aletheia EP, though, it immediately drugged the fuck out of me. It shot my tolerance break right in the face, and now I cannot get enough of either this quite frankly stupendous EP or all the other high-quality death metal releases of late. But it was this EP that acted almost like a cleaver in my brain, prying open my forced-shut/hyper-focused mind, allowing the wonderful artistry that is death metal to flow right back into my core where it goddamn belongs. Get a load of “Lethe” and see what I’m talking about — it’s the second of four songs, and the sole taste prior to the EP’s release on March 13th.

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While you’re listening to “Lethe,” let me actually talk about the EP as a whole, especially the 16-minute closing track that gives even Blood Incantation a run for their lives. Sutrah’s 2017 debut full-length Dunes contained some immaculate death metal — heavily on the technical edge without being so tech-deathy — but also relished mightily in its own progginess. A few years later, and it seems Sutrah have added a whole realm of cinematics and drama without spoiling all that juicy instrumentation and groovy momentum that made their debut so powerful. The Aletheia EP ends on a very long note, a sprawling and dynamic song of immense technical and emotive proportions. I feel like technical proficiency is the easy part; Sutrah have that nailed for sure, but now, they’ve also nailed the gut-punch feeling that only moving music can wield.

As for “Lethe,” think of it as the entire EP in one condensed song. It carries forward a main riff which echoes later on (a nice thematic connection for sure), but also scurries off into its own creative corners, remaining always fresh and technical without overblowing it. Whereas a lot of death metal (and especially tech-death) is angular and staccato and mechanical, Sutrah is more like a perfectly-executed pirouette: deadly silent executional gorgeousness. When most every other band of this ilk is upping aggression, distortion, and volume, Sutrah is meticulously weaving a carbon-fiber tapestry that may appear brittle but is actually stronger than steel. It’s a risky move — Sutrah doesn’t gung-ho slice and dice the world to pieces with divebomb riffs like some tech-death does (and there’s legitimate appeal for that insanity, too) — but in return, they acquire perhaps the most important element any band in this category could want: savage beauty.

The Aletheia EP releases March 13th via The Artisan Era. Follow Sutrah on Bandcamp.

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