Sunrot – The Unfailing Rope Review

Sunrot has got some shit to say, and they’ve imbued the sophomore The Unfailing Rope with an essence of festering self-loathing dripped forth from incensed veins. A low-tatter mind knows that drilling a hole into your skull won’t alleviate mental anguish, but fight after fight after fight can lead you to consider (“Trepanation”). And when life has gifted you a “seething scorn [that] cauterized the wounds that never bled,” (“Patricide”), well, that lets you know all you need to build the ethos of Sunrot: the only catharsis seems to be the end. Have you got a morbid fire stoked in your curious and deflated heart yet? I certainly hope so because you’ll need it as we venture into intentionally shrouded suffering caverns that Sunrot navigates with a volume-assisted, bleeding diary variety of sludge.

Though the recipe that boils down to sludge remains far from crystal clear, we’ve come to accept that doom and hardcore both play important roles in the sounds that compete for the namesake. As such, you’ll find that the churning and screeching lamentations of modern era Zao (“Gutter,” “Patricide”) collide with noise-infected Sabbath-ian dirges (“Trepanation”) through the fevered and frustrated run of The Unfailing Rope. Lyricist and vocalist Lex Santiago links the whole of the experience under a ruined throat yowl, neglecting repeatability and instead opting for pure impact. And, successful in that regard, Santiago’s distressed diatribes read like therapy confessionals stained equally with tears and blood—the light of heart need not apply here.

While there’s a couple of big numbers that bookend the majority of The Unfailing Rope, it’s really the punchy middle numbers that drive its pulse. Yes, it’s easy to remember the highlighted samples throughout, but Santiago’s cry of “YOU DON’T HAVE TO FEEL THIS WAY ANYMORE” (“The One You Feed Pt. 2”) sticks with me more than any other line. Truth be told, though, there’s not a moment where Santiago fills the air with broken sounds that isn’t captivating. Sunrot is a band of course, so this section, being composed of shorter tracks, also allows the guitar duo to free the shackles of the stanky riff (“Gutter”) and explore simple but hypnotic descending leads (“Patricide”) to hook in ways that the vocals can’t. After all, none of Santiago’s woebegone words would mean anything if not paired with fittingly furious music.

The Unfailing Rope, however, wears its noise hat oddly in its snappy (but not speedy) runtime, casting a shadow over some of its successes. The opening and ironically humorous “Descent,”” pairs an old-timey curtain call ditty against a modulated hiss and whir for a functional, if not spectacular, intro. But the middle noise piece “The Cull” doesn’t service the transition between songs at all—it’s all of 47 seconds, at least—and similarly, each track leading up to it ends in about 30 seconds or so of equally meaningless fadeout distortion. In contrast, the closing number “Love,” a distorted excerpt of a James Baldwin1 speech has some thematic relevance, but it still pops in jarringly, feeling like it should lead to something more, not the end. Especially since the penultimate track, “Tower of Silence,” in its post-metal swell and hypnosis already exists as a gargantuan piece with a satisfying feedback conclusion—no need for a second ending.

Regardless, in a regional scene growing with emotionally charged, socially minded acts (Massa Nera and Soul Glo to name a few), Sunrot further will whet the appetite of those seeking powder-keg catharsis. The momentum of splits and EPs leading up to this lead me to believe that Sunrot won’t sit around long before producing even more material, which may contribute to an incomplete feel this go around. Nevertheless, pairing inaccessible frequency scraping against an accessible album length, an ear-splitting vocal attack with a bottom-boosting groove, The Unfailing Rope aims for balance in its multi-pronged attack. And if you dig into the lyrics and explore Santiago’s dark dealings, you may connect and find more to enjoy. To an extent, Sunrot lives on that connection, but that doesn’t make them any lesser. The Unfailing Rope doesn’t present itself for the brightest of days, but if you find it at the right time, it’ll hang just right.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Prosthetic Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: April 7th, 2023

Show 1 footnote

  1. If you don’t know James Baldwin, take some time to read up on his works as a writer and activist. He stands a unique voice in older social rights work, particularly in regards to his search for self in the scene of his time period.
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