Sumerlands album review – Sumerlands

US classicists Sumerlands jump ahead of the retro-metal pack

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Philadelphia’s Sumerlands formed two years ago, when the scene was over-saturated with bland bands mining 80s heavy metal.

But with former Hour Of 13 frontman Phil Swanson and guitarist Arthur Rizk (producer for Power Trip and Inquisition) in their ranks, 2014’s Guardian demo caught the attention of lifers with High Spirits patches on their battle jackets.

Now the dust’s settled on that fruitless revival, the time is right for Sumerlands’ debut album. These traditionalists are smarter than most in their appropriation of metal’s grandstanding heyday; instead of Maiden’s gallop we get the timeless interplay of Randy Rhoads and Bob Daisley on Blizzard Of Ozz (Haunted Forever, The Guardian) and the youthful fervour of Queensrÿche’s first EP, with Phil’s doom-etched laments grounding everything. Sure, some of the solos could be more flamboyant and the instrumental title track is a stunted finale, but overall, Sumerlands has ample character. The searing twin-guitar riffs are praiseworthy and the fist-pumping energy of it all is truly infectious.