by Joe Mis
– Columnist –
Samaroid Dioramas is the latest release from Italy’s Sunpocrisy, and if you didn’t notice, “samaroid” is “dioramas” spelled backwards… This is a sure clue that Sunpocrisy’s CD is a concept album, and in the band’s own words is about “the idea of a parallelism between the path of human being becoming divine and his growing consciousness about complexity of structures that surrounds him.” A high concept indeed – and it is delivered in style.
Originally a 4-piece death metal / progressive metal band, Sunpocrisy was formed in 2007. They released a self-produced EP in 2008, and went on tour supporting bands like The Ocean, Ahab, In Mourning, and Black Sun Aeon. In 2011 they expanded to a six-piece and decided to focus more on the progressive metal genre. The band also focuses on the visual aspects of their performance using plenty of lights, video, and multimedia effects, but this aspect of their work does not come across in a purely audio world.
The opening track “Apoptosis” highlights one of the weaknesses of the album for those who are not familiar with the visual aspects of Sunpocrisy’s stage show. For the most part, it is 3:45 of buzzing and grinding noises with a few faint choral vocals at times – too drawn out to be considered a “song”, or even an intro. It fades into “Apophenia,” a track with very progressive metal guitars and intricate tempo changes under full-on death metal vocals. The song also features some nicely done clean vocals, big drums, and softer, almost atmospheric, passages. The slightly softer “ϕ – Phi” features multiple vocal lines and numerous layers of guitars over some fine technical bass and drum work. “Vertex” opens with synths and noise, but a melody gradually emerges. Soft clean vocals build into a melodic metal track, and then wrap as death screams.
“Trismegistus” is more of a musical interlude that features soft instruments under spoke words, that at the end adds some drums and move nicely into the brutal and intense “Samaroid.” An incredibly complex track, “Samaroid” show the true technical abilities of the band as the switch rhythms, vocal styles, timing and mood. “Samaroid / Dioramas” builds from soft vocals and peaceful, flowing guitars to a pounding drum and bass driven climax. “Dioramas” is a fitting end to the album, opening with a slick bass line, fine clean harmony vocals, built on the elements of the songs that came before. Like most other tracks, this one leaps into full death metal vocals and chugging guitars.
Overall, Samaroid Dioramas is a mixed bag – some brilliant moments and some head-scratching “WTF’s?”. For the most part, this seems to arise from the fact that the band’s on-stage multimedia is vital to their overall performance. We, as listeners only, lose half of the experience and thus some of the tracks seem a bit disjointed. That being said, the release is ambitious and far-reaching, complex and deep. Good production values make it easy on the ear for the most part, and the technical abilities of the musicians put Sunpocrisy on the road to success. Some of the tracks are too drawn out and schizophrenic, but this is a young band that will surely improve with experience.
If you are into the prog-death scene or complex, detailed music, then Samaroid Dioramas will be a winner. If you have little patience for “concept” albums or no tolerance for death metal vocals, then avoid it.
Genre: Post Metal, Progressive
Matteo Bonera (guitars, effects)
Carlo Giulini (drums)
Stefano Gritti (synths, live visuals)
Jonathan Panada (guitars, vocals)
Marco Tabacchini (guitars, noise)
Gabriele Zampieri (bass, vocals)
3. ϕ – Phi
7. Samaroid / Dioramas
Hardrock Haven rating: 7/10