Album Title: Aletheia
Label: The Artisan Era
Date of Release: 13 March 2020
What’s that? You’d like to be recommended something good within the progressive death metal subgenre? Well, it just so happens that I might have something for you. How serendipitous is that?
The artist in question is Sutrah and they are a Canadian outfit, hailing from Montreal. ‘Aletheia’ is a four track EP that follows on from a full-length, ‘Dunes’ released back in 2017. However, being a near-30 minute release, the band are at pains to state that it is no way to be viewed as a stop-gap release between full-length albums. Regardless of whether it is or not, ‘Alethia’ has definitely caught my attention and should catch the attention of many others too, who enjoy this kind of music.
For those unfamiliar, Sutrah have been in existence for a few years, and is a quartet comprised of guitarist/backing vocalist Claude Leduc (Chthe’ilist), bassist Alex Bao (RGRSS), vocalist Laurent Bellemare, and drummer Kévin Paradis (Benighted, Mithridatic, ex-Svart Crown). Clearly, there is a fair amount of experience within the ranks and that is very evident based on the output of this EP.
What I like about this release in particular, is that each of the four songs offers something different, with the final track being a 15-minute monster that incorporates just about a little bit of everything that seems to be good with Sutrah.
The opening song, ‘Variation I.i – Umwelt’ is absolutely incredible and I didn’t even get to the end of the track on my first exploratory listen before I was eagerly downloading the promo to devour with relish over the coming days. It is elegant, atmospheric, commanding and highly melodic, demonstrating that melody does not render progressive/technical death metal weak or fluffy. Used correctly, as is the case here, it simply makes the music more enjoyable and makes the harsh moments even more powerful and striking. The chunky riffs are irresistible and the way the song builds and then releases so majestically is stunning. There’s room for blastbeats and raw power but it is all within the confines of the captivating core melodies.
Next up is ‘Variation I.ii – Lethe’, a much more aggressive and confrontational composition that comes out of the blocks kicking and punching with abandon. The spiky, fast-paced riffs dance and flit with a certain grace, meaning that even at their most brutal and uncompromising, Sutrah create music that is memorable and enjoyable. The vocals are wonderfully extreme, reminding me a little of the deep growls dispensed by the likes of Akercocke at their most extreme. Within such a short composition, there’s also a great amount of variety to be heard, from all out attack, to brief moments of calm tranquillity.
Speaking of tranquillity, ‘Variation II.i – Dwell’ is quite the contrast to its unruly predecessor. Ambient soundscapes led by clean but effect-laden guitar notes provide an oasis of calm that’s rather unexpected but entirely welcome. Yet more melody caresses the ears, as we near the final act.
‘Variation II.i – Dwell’ segues smoothly into ‘Variation II.ii – Genèse’ and the song rises carefully and deliberately, like an awakening monster from a period of slumber. And when it awakes, it is a hungry, savage beast. The bass rumbles and dances with impressive dexterity, the drumming is both powerful and deft, the guitars deliver riff after complex riff, and the vocals are as brutal as ever. And yet, for all this, there is a lovely sense of drama and atmosphere to the lengthy track, including moments when pronounced melodies surface through the intensity to prove that maybe the beast has a softer side after all. It never ceases to amaze me how fast this song flies by either; I can listen to it back to back and not get bored. It’s an impressive feat, but not one that is entirely unexpected, given the numerous qualities that Sutrah clearly possess.
It may only be four songs long, but the impact that ‘Aletheia’ makes is enormous. It pummels and it slays but at the same time, it resonates and soothes thanks to some inspired melodic intent. I will be checking out the debut release for sure and cannot wait for the next full-length album from these guys. If they’re not huge by then, the world is officially broken.
The Score of Much Metal: 90%
Check out my reviews from 2020 right here:
Welicoruss – Siberian Heathen Horde
Myth Of I – Myth Of I
My Dying Bride – The Ghost Of Orion
Infirmum – Walls Of Sorrow
Inno – The Rain Under
Kvaen – The Funeral Pyre
Mindtech – Omnipresence
Dark Fortress – Spectres From The Old World
The Oneira – Injection
Night Crowned – Impius Viam
Dead Serenity – Beginnings EP
The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic
Deadrisen – Deadrisen
Blaze Of Perdition – The Harrowing Of Hearts
Godsticks – Inescapable
Isle Of The Cross – Excelsis
Demons & Wizards – III
Vredehammer – Viperous
H.E.A.T – H.E.A.T II
Psychotic Waltz – The God-Shaped Void
Into The Open – Destination Eternity
Lunarsea – Earthling/Terrestre
Pure Wrath – The Forlorn Soldier EP
Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering
Sepultura – Quadra
Dyscordia – Delete / Rewrite
Godthrymm – Reflections
On Thorns I Lay – Threnos
God Dethroned – Illuminati
Fragment Soul – A Soul Inhabiting Two Bodies
Mariana Semkina – Sleepwalking
Mini Album Reviews: Moloken, The Driftwood Sign & Midnight
Serenity – The Last Knight
Ihsahn – Telemark EP
Temperance – Viridian
Blasphemer – The Sixth Hour
Deathwhite – Grave Image
Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart
SWMM – Trail Of The Fallen
Into Pandemonium – Darkest Rise EP
Bonded – Rest In Violence
Serious Black – Suite 226
Darktribe – Voici L’Homme
Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga
A Life Divided – Echoes
Thoughts Factory – Elements
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: