Sumo Cyco's sophomore album has been a long time coming. It seems an age ago that they secured over 200% of their monetary goal to fund recording costs. And I recall sitting down with singer Skye "Sever" Sweetnam for an interview in April last year, chatting about postponing a planned summer 2016 release... but, I'm sure no-one could have predicted such a long postponement. However, for an independent DIY band who seem to spend a hell of a lot of time on the road, just when do they have time to get in the studio to record? And, back in April last year, they recruited a new drummer, which I presume exacerbated the delay.
Fortunately, the delay has been worth the wait. 'Opus Mar' is a finely crafted slab of 21st century mosh pit metal... and then some. Sumo Cyco have progressed since their 2014 debut album, 'Lost in Cyco City’, to the point where songs have more discernible depth, breadth, variety and dynamics. Bouncy, groovy, heavy, melodic and energetic, 'Opus Mar' is a rather infectious shot of fun-fuelled adrenaline. It brings back "entertainment" to the metal genre in the most refreshing of ways. And the key to its entertainment value? It's thoroughly unpretentious at core. The album has a cool-as-fuck swagger, yet maintains a geeky, cheeky charm with its unassuming, natural quirkiness.
There aren't many bands that could get away with the pop parts that Sumo Cyco interject midway through 'Passengers'. Likewise with the quasi-rap passages of 'Brave II' and the techno section three quarters through the erstwhile groove metal craziness and anthemic refrains of 'Sleep Tight'. And the ragga metal of 'Move Mountains'... oh wait... that's precisely what Skindred have built their career on, right? Thus, it's rather apt that said Welsh band's frontman, Benji Webb, pops up on guest vocals. And his voice sounds perfectly as home here, as the track is, at least in parts, Sumo Cyco's version of a Skindred styled song. Even Sweetnam herself seems to slip into the Webb-vocal vibe. If ever there was a track tailored specifically for the live environment, this is the one. I can easily visualise rampant bodies in a melee of pit frenzy while listening to 'Move Mountains'... and move mountains this crushingly heavy beast of a song most certainly could!
Sweetnam is on fire with her vocals throughout the album. So much so, it's now difficult to believe she was once a former major label pop artist. Sure, there are traces of a pop dynamic... but there's so much more going on with her voice. The tonal and stylistic range of her performance, from rapping, to spat-out, snarled lyrics, to straight-ahead singing, is quite astounding. So much expression. So many different dynamics. Just like the instrumentations. Something to please everybody, it could be said. As it happens, it all pleases me. Greatly. Sumo Cyco have most certainly not fallen foul of the "difficult second album" syndrome. Quite the contrary; they've upped the ante, bigtime.
Review by Mark Holmes
31st March 2017
1) Anti-Anthem; 2) Free Yourself
3) Move Mountains (ft. Benji Webbe)
4) Passengers; 5) Brave II
6) Sleep Tight
7) Rivalry; 8) Kids of Calamity
9) Can't Put Me Out
11) The Broadcasters (Murdering by Radio)
13) Building Castles
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...a finely crafted slab of 21st century mosh pit metal... and then some."