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The various branches of the sun-scorched and filth-encrusted sub-genres that are sludge and stoner doom have been strong this year. Cough, Ramesses, Unearthly Trance and Suma have been at the forefront as far as I am concerned. The mighty sophomore album of the latter combined with a split with Pyramido and a tour with Unearthly Trance has hopefully given them some well-deserved wider recognition, and in honour of said tour the third release from them in 2010 is a collaborative EP with Unearthly Trance. Not a split, they are quick to point out, but a CIA mystery-influenced collaboration. Think Sunn 0))) and Boris with the wonderful Altar.
The level of full collaboration isn't quite as integrated as on something like Altar, with the bands simply swapping songs for each other's vocalists to record over. So you have to admit, it is kind of like a split. But anyway. Suma kick things off with a characteristically tribal bit of kit-bashing, eerily flanged and hollow-sounding guitars paring away across it. Unearthly Trance's Ryan Lipynsky sounds fairly at home here, yowling dissonantly to provide more of a bizarre sermon relegated to the background while the relentless drum tattoos take their usual place front and centre. The drums, which on Suma's material certainly merit the repeated mentions, are less earth-shattering than on Ashes, with the bass drum supplying the beat (followed and bulked out by the bass guitar) and clattering fills coating it in sludgy despair. This is a more atmospheric and droning song than the Ashes material, what with the very stoned and noise-influenced last half, but fits nicely with the other 90 or so minutes of music from the band this year.
'Victim No. 581' stomps in with a slow but purposeful heavy-ass riff and all the chunky drumming absent from the previous song. After all the atmosphere-building from Suma, that band's Jovan provides his acerbic cries of horror with gusto for four minutes of repulsively distorted heaviness and repetitive groove. I'm liking it more than what's on V. The final offering is a true collaboration, a four and a half minute noise track called 'Month of Treatment', for which each band supplied their own layers of fuzz and nightmarish feedback and, presumably, the distant tortured vocalisations and harrowing samples.
I'd say Suma kind of make this theirs, what with Lipinsky putting in a good performance on 'Sleepwalking Through a Maze' but getting a little lost amongst the enormous sound, and Jovan absolutely owning 'Victim No. 581'. Since there's only one, short song from Unearthly Trance, and the general vibe suits Suma fanatics more, I recommend a) worship of at least Suma if not both entities or b) purchase of their respective 2010 full-lengths prior to this. If you already have both a) and b) checked then this will tickle you pink.