Hardcore from Chicago. Vented aggression.
Formed in 2015, SUNLESS draws influence from pioneers of extreme, dissonant metal, such as Gorguts, Ulcerate, and Deathspell Omega, reinterpreting the sounds through an abstract lens that is all their own. Comprised of bassist Mitch Schooler (ex-Nerves, Modulus), drummer Ben Iburg (Not From Here, The Eye Unclouded), and guitarist/vocalist Lucas Scott (Australis, Pestifere), the band boasts a prominent rhythm section, a scattered assortment of time signatures, interwoven and complex arrangements, and bellowing death growls, akin to the output of Baring Teeth, Pyrrhon, and Artificial Brain.
SUNLESS spent most of 2016 performing across the Midwestern US in support of their demo with like-minded bands such as Plebeian Grandstand, Yautja, and Pyrrhon, while writing for their debut album, Urraca. Tracked by Adam Tucker at Signaturetone Recording in their hometown of Minneapolis (The Crinn, Ambassador Gun, Maeth), and mixed/mastered by Colin Marston at Menegroth, The Thousand Caves in Queens, New York, Urraca delivers a relentlessly engaging onslaught of complex and dissonant death metal, with nine tracks encompassing a dense forty-four minutes. The artwork was handled by friend, lyricist, and former bandmate Andrew Notsch (ex-Youwretch), appropriately presenting the album in a psychedelic, abstract visual manner.
Founded in Philly in 2003, Cleric resides in the circle of bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan and Car Bomb – elite musicians playing avant-metal that wows on both a cerebral level and a gut level. Cleric’s brand of metal is marked by dark, cinematic atmospheres and free jazz-informed forays, bursting through a base of highly technical, mathy shred. As a review in Chicago Reader phrased it, the sound is “a kind of metal, the way [David Lynch’s] Lost Highway is a kind of movie. It’s an elastic tissue of creepy electronic noise and barely-human screaming, impregnated with patches of riff-salad grind and hypercube mathcore.”
On Retrocausal, Cleric has pushed its style to new heights. Meshuggah-esque hypnosis, doomful synths, spastic skronking, and blastbeats weave together into highly unpredictable, kitchen-sink epics, many surpassing the 9-minute mark. An ominous vibe, straight off a movie screen, underlies everything; lurking in the shadows are mysterious samples and field recordings evoking deep sea and outer space.
None other than John Zorn is a fan and collaborator who lent his talents to Retrocausal. Elder statesman of musical freedom, a man whose massive body of work incorporates jazz, classical, metal, klezmer, film scores, and more, Zorn guests on Retrocausal’s closer, “Grey Lodge.” Cleric’s relationship with Zorn began in 2013 when he invited the band to work with him on his ongoing Masada project, and continued with his tapping guitarist Matt Hollenberg to join his band Simulacrum (along with John Medeski of Medeski, Martin, and Wood).
In addition to Zorn, Retrocausal features guest appearances by Mick Barr (Krallice, Orthrelm, Ocrilim) and Timba Harris (Secret Chiefs 3).