SUTURA – Dawn of Cursed Souls (2021)REVIEW

When southeastern Brazilian death metal quartet Sutura put out their first EP release, ‘Morte Alheia‘, as a trio in 2017 they weren’t necessarily making a statement of stylistic allegiance but rather attempting to describe what’d naturally formed within their first year of development. Having referred to it as “black/grind” and “black/core” to emphasize the unique characteristic of that formative work and releasing it as a CD-r in less than fifty copies, it’d been a matter of just getting something out and seeing how it landed. By the end of 2018 they were an entirely different band and arguably an even less unique one; After having on-boarded two new members they would changed their blocky 90’s deathgrind logo to resemble Unleashed‘s dripping elegance and recorded a fully independent debut full-length (‘Clasta‘, 2019) that’d honed in on their Swedish death metal influences a bit more clearly, easing away from hardcorish side whilst keeping some leftover, out of place chug heavy pieces. It was clear what the still very green band had in mind but, they’d not yet turned out the level of precision needed for blackened Swedish death metal worship. This is probably the biggest point I’ll have to make as the narrative on my part, “worship” can be done in a way that retains value. The verdict is uncomplicated for the Nova Friburgo based band’s second full-length, ‘Dawn of Cursed Souls’ — They’ve matched the energy and tonality of the Stockholm death metal sound circa 1991 more clearly and fused it with some light melodic black/death metal influences from the adjacent movements in Gothenburg a few years later. In this sense Sutura take one step deeper into trading nostalgic invocation for some of their own unique traits and well, the results are strong enough that this should not feel like a psychic death but an admirably presented retro ‘old school’ Swedish death metal album.

In fact if you’d somehow already heard ‘Clasta’ and recall the title track from that record, much of what Sutura were trying to do there they’ve managed to be fully doing today, having spent several years honing their timing and tightening their songwriting, melodic presentation and production values to reach a pretty standard circa ’91 Sunlight Studios-esque sound. The prime examples within the halls of history are fairly straight forward here with a heaping shit-ton of Dismember influence, some of Unleashed‘s crossover with Necrophobic in the early 2010’s (see: ‘As Yggdrasil Trembles’), and some occasional slips towards ‘Left Hand Path’ and Uncanny‘s ‘Splenium For Nyktophobia’ when they decide to get weird. Much in the same way we can instantly tell what bands a throwback Bay Area thrash metal band prefers among the big four, we can easily decipher Sutura‘s preferences though they do mix things up with their melodic black metal influences being a bit more amorphous than usual. We are not getting a Brazilian ‘The Nocturnal Silence’ unfortunately and instead these moments could be likened to ‘The Third Antichrist’ which, for my own taste, is still a very high rung on the ladder of greats. There are very few curveballs thrown otherwise until we reach “Under the Black Mark”, a melodic death metal piece that feels as if it were pulled directly from ‘Across the Open Sea’ complete with an acoustic interlude (“Death’s Fathom”) as a follow up. It is an unforgettable song and the most notable highlight on the full listen. These movements, when considered as a whole statement, show an attention to detail and presentation beyond the level of the typical HM-2 blasting retro Swedish death metal band today. The guitar tone isn’t typical beyond its chest-caving thunder and doesn’t attempt to carry this album with spectacle, instead the songwriting itself does the heavy lifting via a nuclear load of melodic death. Despite how typical some of the superficial aspects of the experience may appear Sutura are clearly more than a quick study here on this second album, working quite hard to match the je ne sais qoui of the true classics by reaching deeper than sound design and a few d-beaten riffs towards the mayhemic charm of the teenaged greats back in the day.

The real test of this album for most listeners will be the melodic death metal songs as we’ve just gotten a game-changing record from Wombripper last year enhancing the melodic aspects of Dismember to a ridiculously high standard. Here I’d say we could probably point to the early signs of melodicism in Evocation to start when listening to “Chaos and Demise”, which feels like an entirely unremarkable song as we head straight into “Suffering Cage”, arguably the strongest highlight and my personal favorite piece on the album. This is where that nod to Necrophobic circa 1999 I’d mentioned should finally pay off. If this where a vinyl record I’d have set it much earlier in the tracklist but as a compact disc wheeling through ~39 minutes of death metal this burst of blackened death helps to salvage the austere, gloomy atmosphere of the record. Sutura have done a fine job of keeping the energy up, keeping the mood distraught, and flitting between songs with intensely dramatic energy and those that simply push out big heavy metal riffs. I’d found the full listen of ‘Dawn of Cursed Souls’ nigh infinitely repeatable but with the confounding factor of having been listening to this style of death metal since 1992 at least. It blasts by a la ‘Clandestine’ in terms of how long the experience feels but the bigger details here in terms of production and guitar work will point to Tomas Olsson/Fredrik Lingren-era Unleashed when things get forceful and “heavy metal” yet most of the time folks who are chasing the endless Dismember dragon will respond to the melodic side of this album from the opening piece. In terms of this dime-a-dozen niche Sutura stand out as something elevated alongside Wombripper and Mass Burial, as respectable “worship” given their own voice to some degree. I see a lot of potential for where they could take this sound as long as the compositional finesse can elaborate upon melodic statements without losing the hard-edged riff style that makes ‘Dawn of Cursed Souls’ so repeatable. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (75/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Dawn of Cursed Souls
LABEL(S):Awakening Records
RELEASE DATE:April 24th, 2021
BUY:Awakening Records Store
GENRE(S):Death Metal,
Blackened Death Metal,
Melodic Death Metal

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