Set high amongst the most vital new voices within the Roman traditional doom metal ecosystem in recent years, the ancient ghoulish lament of Suum inspires a dusting of tomes, a resurrection of the dead, with each sermon we are graced. The quartet plumb the catacombs of tradition for their graven style of mid-to-slow paced ‘classic’ doom metal, leaning into the lurch of mid-80’s doom metal vortices and applying the experiential expanse of the several generations since. Not quite as overblown as Finnish compatriots but just as morbid in tone and thematic irreverence, ‘Cryptomass’ finds Suum easing from their early Reagers-era Saint Vitus dance of their debut (‘Buried Into the Grave‘, 2018) into a hypnotically churning rant upon morbid sorceries and the unburiable reality of death that is theirs to own.
Much of what I’d had to say in review of Suum‘s debut still stands. The bigger picture of thier sound points towards a mix of ‘updated’ sonic semblances shared in lineage with the innovations of Candlemass and Saint Vitus at their most nascent and pure stages of unadulterated doom. In motion, and especially if you’re a die-hard doom fan such as myself, this’ll feel reductive as a description because Italy has its own history of doom metal that echoes similar scenes in Finland, Australia, Germany and the United States over the last three decades. The lessons learned with each decade’s updates to the traditional doom metal classics count for the next and Suum express in a knowing fashion, resembling the greats while putting their own mark on songwriting and sound design without appearing trendy or flippant. ‘Cryptomass’ notably expands the atmospheric reverberations of its predecessor with the overall dynamic of the full listen in mind, emphasizing the calm with thickened dread and empowering their dirges with guitar and bass tones that are simultaneously more electrically charged and soaked with psychedelic effects.
Though I believe he has left the band at this point, vocalist Mark Wolf (Marco Veraldi) once again graces Suum with his impressive Scott Reagers-esque tone but this time his phrasing is given greater space to breathe and shake through the hall, lending an ‘Epicus Doomicus Metallicus’-esque sense of movement. His range is distinctly concieved for this project and differentiates from his work in Bretus, I’d really appreciate his versatility shown between the two doom metal bands that should (in theory) be quite similar. Veraldi‘s voice is a major draw for my taste in doom metal vocalists yet it is the vision and the pen of guitarist Painkiller (Fangtooth) that conceives the whole of Suum‘s glowering presence; His riffs never speed to a true jog, holding fast to the pure doom style that’d define the band’s sound thus far and without elaborating on tradition too drastically. Although each arrangement is classicist doom metal the tonal landscape of ‘Cryptomass’ is even more varietal than prior, providing more chances for the vocals to resonate while never becoming too indulgent in repetition of riff. There’ll be no 12 minute single riff plods a la ‘III: So Long Suckers’ here, thankfully. All pieces are fastidious in placement but never appear too polished or meticulous beyond serving the song, the grave-oozing personality of ‘Cryptomass’ follows as a natural result.
Of course very few fans need a traditional doom metal album ‘sold’ to them in concept and the stamp of quality and personality is what we’re most often seeking. I’d say if you felt like the production sounded slightly green on ‘Buried Into the Grave’ that’d see an objective improvement on ‘Cryptomass’; Still a rotten mass of roots and centuries old handmade stones, names carved into crumbling makeshift crosses, but wholly present and shuddering under the muted yellow light of a graveyard sunset. I will mourn the exit of the wolf on vocals as Suum evolves in the future but at present ‘Cryptomass’ is freshly indented the mind and heroic in its traditional doom metal quality. As far as the greater legacy of this record is concerned I can at least suggest that its nearly hour-long spin never feels like a drag as it tended to mature within extended repeat listening. The listening experience was immersive, distraught, satisfyingly dark and easy to return to on every occasion. If Suum had simply iterated on their debut they’d still have my vote but the mass of improvements made to their sound and vision compel me to give a high recommendation to their sophomore full-length.
High recommendation. 4.25/5.0
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