I have a mysterious Swiss act here called Sum Of R, who apparently create a sort of hypnotic atmosphere within their raw and unconventional heavy metal sound. It has been also described as ritualistic, which it is. The record begins with a very interesting soundclip which relates to Harry Houdini, who despite being a magician himself, was a firm denouncer of the occult. He vowed that if there was indeed an afterlife, that he would find a way to communicate with people to prove it so. Word has it, that he never did. This of course does not prove there wasn’t an afterlife, as for all we know, Houdini might have found out that many things were true after one’s demise and simply decided not to communicate with the living out of stubborness. Perhaps he didn’t want to be proven wrong, which is a fair argument. In any case, the record continues into “Overgrown” where thick droning bass riffs, light chimes and a puff of air mixed in with a slight cymbal tap all seem to work together to create an atmosphere. It feels a bit mysterious, perhaps even a little ominous. “We Have To Mark This Entrance” joins violins with electronic sputters, coming off a bit more creepy in some ways than the previous. It’s the violin, really. We know how overused those are in horror films. “Light and Dust” has a ghostly atmosphere about it, one where yet another slightly horrific atmosphere is crafted. Reverberations make for a hypnotic effect, definitely sounding otherworldly. It doesn’t sound so horrific as it continues, almost as if passing into the glimmer of light from whence it came. “Cobalt Powder” certainly seems unsettling in it’s deep tones and harsh winds, with a slight melody that comes off just a bit frightening. Surely this is what might be played just as the killer looms over his unsuspecting victim. Though there is also a bit of a drum tap, as the mood changes into that of pure tribal ritual. This is not a change that I would have expected, but I’d welcome it all the same. I’m just a little frazzled as to why such a track began with such a terrifying node in the beginning.
“Hypnotic State” is what happens when someone falls asleep on the church organ, though I’m an absolute nutter for these sorts of gothic organs and feel it is a unique manner of utilizing them into that of a transitive state. That state becomes even more apparent as a slight hint of Steve Roach appears in the mix. There’s quite a bit of early Roach in this, even if the band are unaware of it. “After The Passing Of Risk” features loud bells, shrill screeches and yet another dose of pure dread. The record can be dreadful, yet beautiful at the same time and perfectly reflects the occult as a practice. Suffice it to say, this one sounds more like a film score and less like a ritual experience. That’s not a problem, but it does take just a bit away from the previous atmosphere. Perhaps a little too much industrial melody there, I feel as if I’m being introduced to a film. “Desmonema Annasethe” rolls us gently back into etheral realms, as it brings in an electronic drone, continuing bells and a slight melodic wind that remians the only piece of the composition after the electronics fade. A slight drum tap follows in the background, making for a choice experience in this realm. “To Deny Responsibility Is To Perpetuate A Lie” is the second shortest piece here, and the most industrial of these approaches. There is certainly a ritual vibe here, but it feels a bit more active to me than the previous, reminding me maybe a bit more of Coil. “Let Us Begin With What We Do Not Want To Be” comes next with a quite forlorn soundscape. It feels as if we’re mounring someone’s death, or what you might hear in the background of a post-apocalyptic world in film. Whatever you might choose to imagine, it is certainly less than inviting. The last piece here is “One After The Other” which seems to incorporate drone and a digeridoo. The tribal influences are high on this one, making it a perfect exit point for the album.
I should mention that two tracks have been omitted from this promotional version, leaving you to explore “Liebezeit” and true closer “Slip Away” on your own. Even so, there is more than enough in the array of instrumental experiences here to satiate what you’re looking for. The disc offers a bit of fright, mesmerism and industrial technique all wrapped into an experimental package that I found to be quite intricate. While some of it veered off the path into the realm of film score, the total package is certainly something I’ll recommend. Just know that the experience is not bright and cheery, nor should you expect that from the dark ritualism displayed on the album’s cover art. Sum Of R is an interesting band in this genre and they definitely need more promotion.
(11 Tracks, 57:00)