Blackened death metal is a hard sub-genre to pull. It’s not that the two genres are inimical to one another (the sheer amount of bands operating within the sub-genre more than attests to their compatibility) but more that there’s something inherently challenging in the atmosphere that their marriage creates. A band looks to capitalize on that joining is forced to consider listener engagement, as blast beat over riff over blast beat assault their ears and the harsh vocals which usually characterize the style offer little to no respite.
Sun Speaker are a young band who seem to have successfully cracked the formula for engaging blackened death metal. Their recent release Ov Lustra, released on 4/20 via Subliminal Groove Records (for whom we have a soft spot in our hearts), is packed with great moments of blackened aggression. The basic formula takes the guitar styles of both genres and mashes them together, tremolo picked, frostbitten riffs living right alongside flashy solos, sweep-laden bridges and an overall emphasis on breadth and impact that’s death metal through and through.
The vocals follow suit, at times leaning on high-pitched screeches while at others tapping a deep well of guttural aggression. Add in dreamy synths, with emphasis on classic piano tones, and you get yourself a very busy album. But somehow, Ov Lustra also manages to be nimble and agile, never overstaying its welcome. That might be a testament to the band’s compositional abilities and also to their restraint, as each track ends at exactly the right moment. These elements make for a beast of an album, both engaging and thought-provoking. Don’t sleep on this one; there’s a bright future in store for Sun Speaker.