The eagle-eyed amongst you will have probably already noticed the palindromic album title of this album, consisting of the same word twice, only frontwards and backwards…or vice versa, depending on your point of view. There is a reason for this, as this Italian sextet, Sunpocrisy, have taken it upon themselves to envelop their debut album in an elaborate concept. The best way to sum it up is to quote the press release which describes the concept as the ‘idea of a parallelism between the path of a human being becoming divine and his growing consciousness about complexity of structures that surrounds him.’ Are you still with me? I hope so.
A concept like this needs the music to back it up because without a well-written soundtrack, the words and ideas can lose their potency. Great news then that the instrumental side of Sunpocrisy is more than up to the task.
The album kicks off with one of the album’s shortest pieces, ‘Apoptosis’, an instrumental track that tests the listener with indistinguishable sounds and noises throughout its length. It has an ambient, yet ominous feel as if something is about to explode. And it does, in the form of ‘Apophenia’ the first of two back-to-back ten-minute-plus compositions.
‘Apophenia’ bursts to life with some crushing riffs, harsh growled vocals and some subtle melodies before veering into atmospheric post-rock territory. The heaviness though is central to the track and those Meshuggah-meets-Cult Of Luna segments return frequently. The dynamics of this track and indeed the entire album for that matter are credit-worthy and not content with leaving things there, I defy anyone not to be reminded of Tool as the album draws nearer its conclusion.
If anything, the second of the two epic tracks is my personal favourite. ‘ɸ – Phi’ begins beautifully with an atmospheric clean guitar-led opening, topped off by some really emotive clean vocals. It doesn’t take too long though before the ear-bruising riffing returns to the fore, but it is done in a way which allows much of the atmosphere and subtlety to remain intact. The track then twists and turns keeping the listener riveted throughout, whilst once again highlighting those Tool influences to good effect without venturing anywhere near ‘clone’ territory.
The remainder of the album follows a similarly varied and well-executed path. ‘Vertex’ is a fabulous blend of ambient noise and sumptuous melodies, arguably the album’s most immediate track. ‘Trismegistas’ serves as a welcome breather thanks to its more laid back approach whilst the title track returns to more epic climes, summing up this challenging, occasionally erratic and entirely complex album very well indeed.
It is a strange conundrum that faces me with “Samaroid Dioramas”. If you’d shown me a review like this, I would have probably given the album a wide berth because I am really not a massive fan of Tool or Cult Of Luna for that matter. And yet, in spite of these overt reference points and many others for that matter, I genuinely enjoy listening to this Sunpocrisy album, as I suspect many of you will too. On this showing, don’t expect Sunpocrisy to be without a record label for long.