Three years ago, we spoke of evolution. Sunpocrisy, the Italian band of undefined genre borders, had completed the change from death metal band to something more expansive. It was an impressive shift in balance, but one that should have foretold the future. Samaroid Dioramas was, on it's own, an album of conceptualization come to life; they had taken a visual idea and made it into a sonic reality. And yet, thirty six months later, we remain surprised at the direction the band has continued to go, leaving behind even more of the sound that they once clung to. It'd be easy to dismiss Eyegasm, Hallelujah! as having a questionable name, or , at best, a confusing one for a post metal album. And yet, when combined with a unique piece of album art, and one listen through, it somehow makes sense. And that's what we failed to remember; evolution doesn't stop. Sunpocrisy are on the neverending evolutionary path that is hard to predict, and harder to harness.
While the aforementioned Samaroid Dioramas had done a great deal to separate the band from their death metal roots, it was nothing when compared to the earliest moments here. This isn't just a focus on the melodic elements, it's a textured and layered approach that they hadn't truly taken advantage of before. In one nine and a half minute outburst, the aptly titled Eyegasm, they explore the far reaches of contrast, alternating waves of sweetened synthesizers and oil slicked sludge. That they do both isn't as much of a surprise, but how well they orchestrate and corral the two is exceptional. The merger of the two styles isn't something that happens by accident. They've chosen to embrace it, spectacularly at times, and make it their own. Never is it more prolific than on Eternitarian, where a bevy of percussion can so easy give way to vocal harmonies and soothing melodies. This is only reinforced by the short interlude that follows, Of Barbs And Barbules, rooted in the light touch of the piano keys and a single voice.
Those worried that this latest evolutionary change may have removed any of the aggression or, to be crude, balls from the music, your concerns are quickly answered. You'll still find the high powered, brutally jagged vocal screams coming through at times, often right when you'd expect. But rather than serve as the chief mood-maker as they did on their debut album, they are employed to cut through and balance the melodic elements. There are places, of course, where they demand and receive a starring role. In fact, Gravis Vociferatur may be enough to counterbalance the entire contrasting side of the album. Each snap of a snare drum underneath a lasting scream brings every boiling blood molecule back to the surface. But where these moments succeed more than those on previous releases is that they are reeled in soon after; they never careen off course and hijack the path of the song, or the album at large. The tempo slows, the moods change, and the album continues on. And when the tracks all border on the nine minute mark or more, sans the interludes, variety may be just as important.
We call for change, then often bemoan it when it arrives. But change and evolution are simply not the same thing. The former can be forced; the latter is inevitable. Sunpocrisy have followed that course from creation to now, and it's done them justice at ever step along the way. It's hard to even fathom what this band would sound like had they stuck to their initial death metal game plan. But luckily, they let the waves of evolutionary development take them where they may. The result is a robust merger of technical prowess and songwriting smarts, played out over 70 minutes of music that is colorful and vibrant, just as the distinct album art would have led you to believe. And they've provided the visual to accompany the audio. Much like the breeding of a coyote with a wolf, you know what it could or should look and sound like, but you're never really sure until it stands before you. In that same way, Eyegasm, Hallelujah! is the album we should have seen coming, but never could have anticipated.