Suum – Cryptomass (Seeing Red Records, 14 February 2020)
Have you ever been tricked by an album cover? Like, you got totally drawn in by this mesmerizing artwork that so perfectly encapsulates a particular mood — but then you listen to it and the music sucks, or at least it completely fails to match up with your expectations based on its exterior?
Or looking at it from the opposite side: how often has poorly-designed and/or conceptually uninteresting imagery caused you to bypass listening to something, which for all you know could have ended up being your new favorite record if you had actually given it a chance?
Well, today we’ve got the rare treat of an album whose outward appearance exactly lines up with its internal contents, Cryptomass — the sophomore release from Roman doomsters Suum, which emerged mere days ago from the decaying catacombs illustrated above (and credited to the band’s guitarist, “Antonio Painkiller“), by way of Ohio’s Seeing Red Records.
The last time we heard anything out of this group of Queenslandians was two years ago, when their debut Descent Into the Maelstrom dropped out of nowhere (which I originally learned about thanks to the terrific folks over at Heavy Blog is Heavy). That disc’s combination of raw emotion — ranging from soul-crushingly heavy ugliness to soul-wrenchingly mournful beauty, and all points in between — really grabbed me and still hasn’t let go. Later that same year, when I started writing about music myself, it was the natural choice for my first review. (Note that this was a brand new experience for me at that time, and I had no idea what I was doing — unlike now, over eighteen months later, where I still have no idea what I’m doing!)
Anyway, that particular release was pretty monumental — not because I chose to write about it when my journalistic career was in its infancy, but totally on its own merits. If I hadn’t arbitrarily chosen to exclude the small handful of albums I wrote about from my year-end list, I can assure you Descent would have found its way to the very top of my Top 11 of 2011. So after numerous reports of line-up changes and rumors about writing and recording, it’s with great excitement that I’ve received official news about the band’s follow-up, which I will now pass along to you…