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Sum Of R - Lahbryce review




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Reviewer:
8.4

7 users:
8.29
Band: Sum Of R
Album: Lahbryce
Release date: March 2022


01. Sink As I
02. Crown Of Diseased
03. Borderline
04. The Problem
05. Hymn For The Formless
06. Shimmering Sand
07. 144th
08. Lust


The sum of R is one that mathematicians are too scared to calculate.

Sum Of R is a long-running project that initially served as the solo project of Swiss musician Reto Mäder, who has also been active in bands such as JeGong and Ohne. The first album was pretty much pure drone/dark ambient, but as different individuals joined and left the band, it evolved into a more metallic form of drone. Lahbryce represents another stage of Sum Of R’s evolution; the addition of Jukka Rämänen (Dark Buddha Rising, Atomikylä, Waste Of Space Orchestra, Hexvessel) as drummer in place of Fabio Costa was subsequently followed by the arrival of Waste Of Space Orchestra bandmate Marko Neuman, as a previously instrumental-only band now featured vocals.

This transformation has come with it a change in style; likely due to the presence of Rämänen, Lahbryce exhibits a form of twisted drone doom that bears a resemblance to Dark Buddha Rising. At the same time, there’s a ritualistic, measured repetition that falls in line with some songs from Wolvennest; the first track in particular, “Sink As I”, has a very similar vibe to the opening song of Wolvennest’s Temple album, “Mantra”. ‘Wolvennest meets Dark Buddha Rising’ is a very reductive way of describing Lahbryce, particularly as it progresses, but it should give you a broad idea of what Sum Of R have created.

I first heard Lahbryce live when Sum Of R performed it in full at Roadburn 2022, and the style was certainly enough up my street to grab my interest, but it is those newly incorporated vocals that really grab one’s attention. Having heard Waste Of Space Orchestra’s Syntheosis, although the vocals were predominantly demented harsh screams, I did remember some peculiar high-pitched cleaner singing, which I had probably assumed was a guest performer at the time. As it turns out, Neuman was behind both styles, and those almost androgynous cleans get more time in the sun on Lahbryce. The alternation between beastly growls, pained shrieks, soaring, eerie clean singing and banshee-esque wails while the instrumentation intensifies on “Sink As I” conjures up an aura of malevolence that any of Rämänen’s other groups would struggle to match.

Sum Of R are devastating at their loudest on tracks such as “Sink As I”, “Borderline” and “Hymn For The Formless”, all of which follow a similar template, but equally impactful at quieter points; “Crown Of Diseased” features a backdrop of only piano, ambient keyboards and alien sound effects, but they create a darkness that Neuman’s haglike vocal intonations take to an impressive depth of depravity. The keyboards/electronics can be dark and bleak, but Sum Of R aren’t afraid to incorporate brighter or more melancholic sounds, with a celestial shimmer created by a high-pitched synth motif repeated throughout the otherwise brooding and sorrow-tinged “The Problem”. In the same vein, the lengthy “Lust” alternates sad soft sections with darker heavier parts before adding some bright-sounding melodic synths above the final of said heavy parts for a jarring yet effective tonal clash. They can also throw some compositional surprises in there; “144th” remains quiet and forlorn for a large portion of its runtime, and right as it feels like the track is going to deliver a loud, aggressive conclusion, it instead dissipates into a chasm of amorphous noise.

Rämänen’s various projects have been delivering various takes on this kind of dark, psychedelic, droning doom for over a decade; now, he is working with Mäder to deliver a new yet equally effective spin on that concept, with Neuman’s chaotic versatility taking it to a whole new level. Whether this is Sum Of R’s ‘final form’, as it were, or just another step in a continual evolution remains to be seen, but Mäder has struck on something really great here.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Production: 8





Written on 08.05.2022 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments

Comments: 5   Visited by: 86 users
08.05.2022 - 15:05
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Haven't managed to dig into what Sum Of R have been doing previously, but this is fantastic. Loved their performance at Roadburn too, so glad we decided to stick around for it.
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Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
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08.05.2022 - 15:47
Rating: 8
musclassia

Written by RaduP on 08.05.2022 at 15:05

Haven't managed to dig into what Sum Of R have been doing previously, but this is fantastic. Loved their performance at Roadburn too, so glad we decided to stick around for it.


I skimmed their records when I was building their profile on here; the first album is pretty much pure dark ambient/drone, so not really my thing; the ones between then and this one were more of a drone metal sound, but they've changed quite a lot with this album, and much for the better as far as I'm concerned
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13.05.2022 - 13:05
Zap

Saw them live with Dark Buddha Rising when they released Orga. It didn't sound remarkable to me at the time but I see they have undergone some line-up changes so I will give this one a shot. Nice review! DBR and Wolvennest mentions definitely have me intrigued...
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13.05.2022 - 13:22
Rating: 8
musclassia

Written by Zap on 13.05.2022 at 13:05

Saw them live with Dark Buddha Rising when they released Orga. It didn't sound remarkable to me at the time but I see they have undergone some line-up changes so I will give this one a shot. Nice review! DBR and Wolvennest mentions definitely have me intrigued...


If you like DBR and those associated bands, I'd imagine you'll like this one - it's definitely both heavier and more musically structured than Orga
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16.05.2022 - 11:51
Zap

Written by musclassia on 13.05.2022 at 13:22

If you like DBR and those associated bands, I'd imagine you'll like this one - it's definitely both heavier and more musically structured than Orga

Honestly, that show where I saw Sum Of R was such an immense and relentlessly heavy performance by DBR that it's no surprise that Sum Of R didn't make as much of an impact. But I think you're spot on; the music being less structured is something that also didn't work that well for me.
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