SUN DESCENDS BLACK: EP I
Release year: 2019
Some years ago, the chaotic, grinding black metal pioneered by the likes of Blasphemy already in the late 80’s/early 90’s, was all the rage, and bands drinking from that particular stream of darkness seemed to be a dime a dozen. One common flaw with most of them was that the chaotic playing and production ate away all heaviness and, too often, extremeness. The result was chaotic and barbaric, yes, but also kind of bland.
But, enter 2019 and Sun Descends Black from Little Rock, Arkansas. Whilst their approach seems to be a bit different – a base of US death metal, expanded with grindcore aplenty in the best tradition of, say, Napalm Death, and liberal blackened elements – the end result sounds a lot like what all those Blasphemy wannabes should have sounded like.
The seven track demo/EP is a well-crafted mixture of crushingly heavy, slow death metal sections that remind one of early Incantation, maelstroms of grinding black mayhem that bring to mind the aforementioned Blasphemy, and the occasional mid-tempo bit that ties these two together. With furious drumming, wickedly sawing guitars and the gruff animal gutturals of vocalist Wade Vandegrift, who reaches almost Craig Pillard depths during the slower sections, the end result is pretty damn impressive for a first effort. Sure, the trio that makes up Sun Descends Black do all have previous experience, but still, I am impressed by how fleshed out the musical concept is.
If I have to dig up something to criticize here, then it would have to be the lack of variation – most of the songs sound too much like each other for the listener to know this from that. It’s no major gripe, though, because more than the individual tracks, it is the entirety of the demo that impresses. It’s an unrelenting onslaught of decimating black chaos, which sometimes slows down to a lurch just to ensure there are no survivors left behind.
Sun Descends Black are on to something really good here. There definitely are odds and ends here that could use a bit of work – a few “hit” songs wouldn’t hurt, an even heavier production could benefit the band, and so on – but already in this state, the trio are more than deserving of your attention.