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Sumer - The Animal That You Are album artwork

The Animal You Are

Released 25th November 2014 – Wild Heart Records

01. Introspect
02. Chisel
03. Progenesis
04. The Animal You Are
05. Vanes
06. Pinch, Cut
07. Lure
08. Vincent West
09. End Of Sense

In the ongoing quest for new tones and textures, an increasing number of bands are adding a third guitarist to their ranks. This can yield mixed results; at one end of the spectrum, the sound can be muddy and confused, while at the other it can be hard to work out what the third guy is doing other than taking up space. Fortunately, with their debut album The Animal You Are, British quintet Sumer have found the goldilocks zone between those two extremes.

After easing in with an a capella introduction, first proper track “Chisel” is a thoroughly captivating slice of atmospheric progressive metal. With its loping verses and towering choruses, it sets the bar high, and the remainder of the album more than lives up to the promises it makes.

The influence of bands like Karnivool and Tool is evident, along with a touch of later Jane’s Addiction and a surprising amount of Brit-metal legends earthtone9 in Sumer’s rich, layered sound – with the latter being particularly noticeable during instrumental track “Progenesis“, and also “Pinch Cut“.

The Animal You Are is evenly balanced between quieter introspection and some surprisingly weighty riffing that – perhaps due to the absence of any screaming – is more exhilarating than aggressive. Instead, Ian and Tim trade and harmonise on vocal lines as chock full of hooks and earworms as their guitar parts.

As previously mentioned, the trio of guitars are carefully intertwined, with each playing an equal role and none dominating proceedings. All three lock in together sparingly, which is probably what gives those heavy moments their serious heft. The band have a particularly impressive command of dynamics, with tracks like “Vanes” containing hugely compelling peaks and troughs.

Throughout The Animal You Are, drummer Toby puts in an especially impressive performance, with some particularly deft footwork on “Vincent West” and deeply satisfying fills throughout that compliment and lift the riffs without being overbearing. The album is then brought to a conclusion by longest track “End of the Sense” , which culminates in a genuinely triumphant coda.

Over the course of its nine tracks, The Animal You Are firmly establishes Sumer as a force to be reckoned with. Along with bands like Porshyne, they are skirting along the boundaries between post-rock and progressive metal. Sumer strike a balance which draws the listener in immediately, and steadfastly refuses to let them go for the duration of what is potentially one of the most accomplished debut releases of 2014. Certainly, people looking for this year’s answer to Karnivool’s Asymmetry should consider The Animal You Are to be essential listening.