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Album Review: Sundrifter – Visitations

There’s something about making a type of music known as “desert rock” but being from one of the least desert ridden areas such as Boston, Massachusetts that has a special kind of magic.  Ok, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but I thought it was funny. Either way, Sundrifter are a trio of rockers that master this style of music, and are prepared to release their sophomore full length effort by the name of Visitations in October.  To put it simple, it’s a very bass immersed rock n roll record with an ultra thick atmosphere and doomy distortions.  They’re less on the “gloomy slow” side of that spectrum though, and focus more on creating a robust punch in the throat whether it be straight to the point, or built up with suspense.  Either route works, and they get the job done.

Layered instrumentation and almost loop-like buildups are the name of the game on Visitations. Take one of the more suspense reliant songs to start, like “Targeted.” This one opens with a smooth and comforting intro, wiping away some of the noise to start, as well as being on the calmer side.  The riffwork is repetitive, but it adds little touches to it as the track progresses, before releasing all potential and pouring in some thunderous drum kicks, as well as ultimately dirtying it up.  In turn it also transitions into a harder track. Others are threatening from the get go, such as “Death March.” Contrary to the tactics just described, it thickens the atmosphere up so much it’s tough to breathe. The bass takes just as much action in rolling with the punches as the guitar. All points are still written from the same angle; layered repetition and energy. Usually when you think repetitive, you think “bad”, but it is super necessary for this brand of rock to work out.  Even the droning and march-like sections such as parts of “Fire In The Sky” are key for the grand scheme of things.

Once the patterns are broken and small guitar licks take the lead, the bass and drums stick close together to retain the right mood.   This allows the guitars to go off on a tangent that matches the fuzziness and still has a moody dimness to it, even if it’s a faster number.  Picture something like Alice In Chains’ “Whale & Wasp,” but not as clean and sped up on certain tracks. Moreover, the vocalist’s ability to match this with such operatic vocal chords is absolutely stellar!  There’s so much tone and emotion, and not an ounce of hesitation. He picks a key and doesn’t hold back. Plus, it’s also very clear despite all of the heavy distortion. Imagine the instrumentation is a heavy snow storm, and the vocals are those bright car headlights that still manage to cut through it all.  No signs of harsh vocals, so that brings its accessibility up.  

The biggest point to walk away with is the fact that the team-work displayed here is far beyond the norm.  Nothing takes too much spotlight, and nothing is left in the dark. The track arrangement, the excellent timing of when to introduce a rhythm section, the delivery, and the playing tactics make this a piece of gold that needs to be heard by anyone that’s into rock music or heavy metal alike.  It’s one of those albums that you almost feel the music and get lost in it. You won’t be sorry.

Visitations will be released on October 19th, 2018 by Small Stone Records.

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