Sunnata – ‘Zorya’ – Album Review

Emerging from Warsaw, Poland in 2008 came the ritualistic heavy rockers Sunnata who, after gathering some attention at European festivals such as Desertfest and Days of the Ceremony, and since releasing their debut full length album ‘Climbing the Colossus’ back in the March of 2014, have gathered some success in the underground heavy scene of Europe. Two years later, they have brought out their new album – ‘Zorya’ – and it is well worth your time. It is not simply a follow on from their last album but a progression.
The first track – ‘Beasts of Prey’ is a piece of true progressive doom perfection. Starting with dragged out, fierce guitar noise, accompanied by a mean bass growl, the song slowly drags its knuckles across a post apocalyptic sonic world. Eventually the pieces fall in place and a solid guitar riff is introduced before settling down into a calmer, more ambient middle section. It is here that the vocals are first heard. Hypnotic, trance inducing mantra styled vocals create a ‘calm before the storm’ sort of feeling. Awash with reverb and with a slight psychedelic tendency, this section gives the song a whole new dimension and puts the band on the progressive path to a huge ending. The heaviness returns, the vocals get harsher and raspier, and the volume is cranked up until the room shakes. This is how to open an album and leaves jaws on the floor.

Following that comes the title track ‘Zorya’. A wall of sound is created by huge guitar chords backed by repetitive drum patterns, with a foundation of bass heaviness. The vocals here are more intense but still maintain that mystical feel. The song falls into a slow Sabbath-esque verse with a hypnotic riff and haunting vocals floating somewhere above it all. Lead guitar worms its way from the verse towards the chorus which is an absolute force of doom and stoner metal. The song continues to progress, feeling as though it has gotten heavier and heavier and by the end of it all, you feel as though you’ve been hurled through a whirlwind of doom and dark vibrations.

The next track ‘Long Gone’ opens with something a bit quieter. An incredibly eerie piece of guitar work sounds like something from the darkest, deepest depths of the ocean. This fades out and we are presented with a groovy guitar riff more along the lines of stoner rock rather than the doom and stoner metal that have been present in the first two songs. This builds up and drops into a heavy, steady piece of stoner rock delight. Showing their progressiveness once again, this song morphs into many different shapes and sizes that take the listener on a mental journey through the dark, distant imagery that would inevitably accompany this music. However, somewhere in that darkness there are glimmers of light shining through here too.  

‘New Horizon’ comes crashing in with a gigantic, in your face sort of riff. There is a moment of serenity, where those mantra vocals are present once more, before the big guitars come kicking down the doors again. This song is an example of the all out menacing attitude of the band. About half way through comes a heavy trance like section, where the guitars slow paced assault keeps your head nodding involuntarily. Even if you have kept your composure until now, this is sure to land you in that mindset of musical reverie.

The final song ‘Again and Against’ opens with a wildly fuzzed guitar sounding like its frequencies are lost somewhere in the distance before rolling through like a freight train on its way to the fiery skies of a dystopian landscape. As is the pattern on this album, the band carefully sculpts their songs with particular attention to dynamics and intensity. This one in particular focuses on that dark intensity, where heavy, sludgy riffs are the driving force. The closing vocals linger on until the audio becomes nothing but crackling fuzz and when this album is brought to its close, it feels as though it has come full circle.  

Sunnata have done an immense job of blending various musical subgenres with ‘Zorya’. They have peered past the boundaries and created an atmosphere that is difficult to pinpoint to one genre in particular. Doom is obviously the force behind this record but stoner rock, stoner metal, sludge and psychedelic rock is just as noticeable along with the spiritual and mystical vibes. They have proven that they belong in the heavy underground scene and being that it is only their second full length release, it is safe to say that this won’t be the last we hear from these Polish purveyors of noise.  

Written by Ben Hughes

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