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Sumer – The Animal You Are (2014)

This London band has a found a sweet spot triangulated somewhere between alternative rock, metal and progressive rock. The most obvious reference point is probably the band Tool. But their output is a little less dark and perhaps a bit more more accessible. So add a dash of Soundgarden to the mix nd perhaps you’ll have a very quick and rough idea of where this band is coming from stylistically.

The songs are powerful and at times intricate, but the arrangements are refreshingly straightforward. Three guitars (Ian Hill, Tim Bonney, Jim Hall) plus a fourth guitar if you count bass as a type of ‘guitar’ (Taria Dawson – who adds a pleasant spash of color and panache to the groups appearance) and a drummer (Toby Bonney).

Two of the guitarists sing (Ian and Tim). Depending upon the musical passage and mood plenty of space is allowed for one or more of the guitarists to add sheen, effects or to otherwise enhance the sonic pallet. This music is old fashioned in that I can honestly envision this sophisticated wall of sound reproduced live. The vocal harmonies are limited to two vocal lines at a time. By composing effective vocal arrangements without resorting to extensive multi-layering, they’ve managed to create a collection of songs that two singers should be able to reproduce live. Similarly, I don’t hear anything on these songs that could not be replicated by three electric guitarists working in close sympathy and connection with one another in a live setting.

Mark Stephens

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