From a group who are confirmed fans of Tool and Soundgarden, and were finalists in 2014’s Metal 2 The Masses contest, it comes as quite a surprise to hear Sumer say they aren’t really metal.
But The Animal You Are shows them to be right. Their vocal harmonies let the light in, and with picking and wah-wah, the three guitars of Ian Hill, Tim Bonney and Jim Hall give the songs a psychedelic glow and a big, big sound. When the riffs come – and there are plenty of them – they pack a considerable punch. They steer clear of generic metal chug, with a grunge-like distortion suddenly shifting into tight, serpentine, near-drone patterns with bent notes and melodic flourishes. When the guitars suddenly ignite in a three-way firestorm on Vanes, the effect is spectacular. There’s rich, rhythmic invention throughout in a way that’s fluid and striking, but never too tricksy. But they don’t think of themselves as particularly prog, either. Radiohead have also been mentioned and although Sumer make similar use of hard edges in space, that’s a mite tenuous. Best, perhaps, to stop trying to put them in a box and see what this clearly original group bring us with album two.