“Sessions is a concept album about a man who wakes up from a coma and is sent straight into a psychiatric hospital where he begins a series of tests against his will. In the process he meets a doctor who remains with him every step of the way. During these sessions, with the guidance of the doctor, he is transported into the outer reaches of his own mind to confront the insecurities and demons that plague him.”
Resembling the premise behind the new album from ferocious US technical metallers The Summoned is the listening experience of Sessions. The nine track exploration is a kaleidoscope of sound and technical craft which barely gives a moment for a breath within its often infernal tempest taking the listener into the darkest, deepest recesses of their psyche. It is a demanding and intensive journey across story and album but ultimately one seriously rewarding one.
Formed in 2007 and drawing on the inspiration of bands such as Death, Between The Buried And Me, Decapitated, The Faceless, Behemoth, The Dillinger Escape Plan and others, the Boston, Massachusetts hailing quartet pretty soon revealed their own individual character of sound. Since then they have relentlessly pushed theirs and in turn metal’s assumed boundaries to find a strain of uniqueness really having its head in the band’s latest encounter. After the Harvest EP in their first year, the 2011 released debut album If Only Minds Could Paint Pictures garnered a wealth of critical acclaim, its success supported and followed by the band successfully undertaking a 23-day headline tour spanning the U.S. and Canada as well as being part of 2012 Summer Slaughter Tour with Cannibal Corpse, Between The Buried and Me, The Faceless and more. From the winter of 2013, The Summoned began working on their second album, entering the studio with long-time friend Evan Sammons of Last Chance To Reason to begin the recording process. The next three years were concentrated on the creation of Sessions, time and intensive attention showing all its qualities in a release even more enthralling as well as bolder and more accomplished, technically and emotionally, than its impressive predecessor.
Within seconds, opener The Pendulum Swing has the senses twisted and imagination askew, the guitars of Shaun Murphy and Jarred Sullivan spinning a web of disorientating metal aligned to post punk discordance as bass and drums grumble and impose their psychosis. Vocalist Stephen Thompson supported by the equally rawer tones of Murphy, is a venomous scourge, words and emotions a primal yet composed assault as blurry as precise in their invasively relentless suggestiveness. The determined, unyielding nagging is a constant across sound and album, every aspect and texture a ruthless persistence in its moment within a just as eagerly evolving unpredictable tapestry.
The track is an absorbing, thrilling start; a rabid introduction but eclipsed in ferocity by the following Faradic. As the rhythms of drummer Sam Hang ravage the senses yet still manage to be an anthemic enticement, guitars dance provocatively and psychotically on the imagination. Flavours and styles proceed to flicker with enthusiastic dexterity and boldness across the song, jazzy and progressive turns colluding with extreme and technical metal tenacity as vocals flow with a toxic essence. As in the first and next up Fractal Patterns, there is a real virulence to everything too; an infectiousness veining every fury and creative twist with the third track a debilitating but equally magnetic carousel of sound and invention. Melodies spawn from ravenous hostility, deranged trespasses from atmospheric caresses; every second a cauldron of intrigue and harsh drama.
Through the possibly even more primal and savage The Grave Mistake and the dark climate of Built of Glass there is no lessening of the resolute examination of senses and imagination; both tracks a flight of startling adventure and striking craft with the first a spiral into disturbing calm from cyclonic agitation, and back again, while the second aligns melancholy and sonic savagery within its dramatic almost cinematic theatre.
Both Vertiginous with its whirling melodies and rotating spine of far more carnal strains and the unbridled ferocity of the equally multi-flavoured Primogenial Birth keep ears and imagination gripped and consumed, the latter at times as primal as it is in other moments elegant and jazzily bewitching. Again neither leave a second free for the body to relax or expectations to try and rear their head, Recollection similarly a storm of sonic transgression and off-kilter progressive enterprise which, as all tracks, really is impossible to truly represent in word and suggestion.
Closing up with the initially melodically charming, hope embraced Satori, the album is simply one uncompromisingly compelling proposition. Shadows soon crowd and invade the listener as the final track hits its creatively hungry stride; pretty much epitomising the whole of Sessions with its capricious yet intensely woven and nurtured web.
Certainly Sessions is an imposing listen to match its presence and hard to take all in over a few let alone a single listen but rewards with every quest taken. Equally at times due to Thompson’s fine but exacting raw delivery lyrically the album shares moments lyrically which remain a mystery in the tale but are potently compensated by the clear emotion of the sounds and his presence; in saying that though a thicker use of the clean touches provided by Murphy within both Fractal Patterns and Built of Glass would make for another intriguing dynamic ahead. Nothing though defuses the potency and pleasure of sharing time with the album, or the calm to contemplate after its outstanding tempest.
Sessions is out now @ http://store.thesummoned.com/album/sessions
Pete RingMaster 21/06/2017
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