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The Sullen - Rituals Of Death [EP] (2020) - Review

Band: The Sullen
Album title: Rituals Of Death [EP]
Release date: 25 May 2020
Label: Self-Released
Genre: Dark Metal, Black Metal, Doom Metal

01. Crimson
02. Earthen Sky
03. Rituals Of Death

We all know that Greece offered so many great dark and black metal bands already, just think of Rotting Christ, Varathron, Nightfall, Acherontas, Zemial, Ravencult, W.E.B., SepticFlesh, and many more well established acts, but nothing could have prepared us for this new one-man sensation named The Sullen. A rather brand new entity from Athens was formed only two years ago out of the ashes of Final Words Of Sorrow by Petros “Elathan” Petalas, known also as the ex-W.E.B. and Néant bassist. The Sullen already made the underground metal community aware of the name with two singles released in 2019, and is now presenting the first EP, offering three stunning tracks that will blow your mind if you are in need of some powerful, dark, hard hitting, yet of high quality dark metal.

The band doesn't hesitate to go in full mind blowing force with the opener "Crimson". Behind this thick and crushing wall of sound, there are intriguing driving guitars, captivating melodies, extraordinary drumming almost at the edge of death metal and awesomely strong yet flamboyant dark vocals that are something like a blend of A.A. Nemtheanga, Nick Holmes and Sakis Tolis. Everything is done just like if we are listening to an established band with at least five albums in their discography. As well the second track "Earthen Sky", which is a bit more atmospheric and complex, dealing with black, doom, a bit of crust and gothic metal thrown into the picture is an absolute masterpice. Just take a listen to those rather melancholic riffs and pounding rhyths and be aware how interesting are the rhythmic and mood changes. The last one, "Rituals Of Death", is a blackened dark doom metal fierceness with an outrageous suicidal mood.

Not only the music, as well the lyrics which deal with the fact of our own mortality, a theme that troubled already the ancient Greek philosophers, and each track on this around 15 minutes long EP takes a different aspect on this topic. The artwork itself was also an approach of it. The shot took place in an abandoned cemetary. The three stones, ascending in size and the head of the lamb all have their own symbolic meanings. So, there's a lot of existential death symbolism in it, and through it some melancholy penetrates into this sonic output from many different corners.

The Sullen is hard to put in a firm category as there are many elements intertwined. I'll say that it's dark metal in general, but fans of black metal, doom metal and maybe also those into more atmospheric extreme gothic metal stuff should try it. At moments it sounds just like if Rotting Christ, Varathron, Paradise Lost, Primordial, Tribulation, Agalloch and Nightfall, had a jam together and dark spirits from the abyss dictated the terms. But don't be afraid that The Sullen is just another copycat of well established bands, far from that, it sounds very fresh and quite unique. As well the production is fully balanced between the right amound of power, rawness and atmosphere.

Rituals Of Death is a strong debut EP for The Sullen, it has that heathen soul and accessibility similar to To The Nameless Dead of Primordial, it has something that reminds to Shades Of God or Icon of Paradise Lost, and yet it smells very Greek. It's captivating darkness and I must admit that The Sullen is for me one of the greatest discoveries this year, and I'm blown away every time I give it a listen. The Sullen is a band that is destined, if only will continue this way, to cause havoc in the dark metal scene. Unfortunately the EP is released only as a digital edition, although it deserves also it's physical form, and I think that sooner or later one of the labels will want to release it. Fans of before mentioned bands shouldn't hesitate to check this act out. From my side, I can say that it will be constantly on my playlist and will patiently wait for more.

Review written by: Tomaz
Rating: 8,5/10