Sutrah – Dunes (2017) REVIEW

Upon learning one part of Chthe’ilist, the heady guitar part, had been long ruminating a more spiritual journey I was apprehensive as to what that might entail. His other band is crusted and technical, a Demilich-esque beast that often trips over itself with under-baked ambition. Quebecois death metal always seems to succeed not because of the heightened technical standards but in spite of them. Sutrah’s central philosophy on ‘Dunes’ more or less appears as a shimmering mantra; it’s esoteric luminescence offers clean and crisp meditative death metal that transcends the nerd-like aches of his other band. Nearly seven years in the making, I believe Sutrah have created a thoughtful masterpiece.

Much of what allows ‘Dunes’ to hover above a lot of modern technical death metal, in their glowing lotus position, is the likely fretless bass that murmurs and pops behind the guitar lines, much like more recent StarGazer efforts. Bao’s basslines are on par with the best DiGiorgio contributions, and he should be commended for elevating Sutrah’s sound. It is thrilling to hear a band go above and beyond groups like Obscura and Contrarian, who seem fixated on either outdoing their masters or paying tribute to them, but Sutrah don’t appear focused on self-comparison or legacy extension. By taking stock of the self with a journey of the conscience, and an honest consciousness, ‘Dunes’ might be the first death metal album of 2017 where I would recommend the lyrics.

Sure, you might suggest that wonky prog-rock bass tone, heady philosophical lyrical journeys, and death metal sounds all too typical. Yet I’d point towards the experimental indigenous instrumentation, use of varied vocal styles, and generally reserved and tasteful guitar work (considering the high pace of technical death metal) as examples of why this is a special album worth listening to. Spiritual bands like Rudra, Cynic and the philosophical ilk of StarGazer inhabit their own smart niches within the cluttered world of death metal without losing sight of death metal itself. It is exciting to be able to add this band to that short list of exciting and meditative extreme metal.


Artist Sutrah
Type Album
Released September 22, 2017
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Suffocating haze of the real. 4.5/5.0