SUNNATA transcend their shamanic doom with “Chasing Shadows”.

Written by Album Review, Chronique

Music has always been associated with trance. It bridges the gap between the subjectivity of the inner self and the outside world. This is why music is so often used in rituals. Sacred songs can plunge the faithful or simple listeners into deep contemplation and emotion. When associated with an entity through rhythm, melody or a specific instrument, music carries the spirit to the heart. Contemporary shamans Sunnata have been the modern custodians of these ancient traditions for the past decade, practicing these rituals from the depths of time through music.

In 2018, Sunnata released their cornerstone album “Outlands”, giving us a glimpse of their shamanic doom tinged with trance, doom vibes and grunge melancholy. Amid the pandemic, “Burning In Heaven, Melting On Earth” allowed them to hone their sonic identity. As independent as ever, moving forward without the help of any labels and persevering in the live recording of their albums, the Poles now plunge into all the extremes and nuances of their musical essence to deliver what might be their most complex album to date.

“Chasing Shadows” explores the frontier between aesthetic emotion and spiritual experience. The album opener is a musical “Chimera” interweaving at least four styles that liquefy into one another, a riff and blast-driven ceremonial trance. Conversely, the intense vocals interlaced with chants, choruses and psalmodies on “The Tide” sacralize the overall emotion of the song, while “The Sleeper” is unlike anything Sunnata has recorded before. Through their use of unconventional sounds and distortion, they awaken our inner madness with a rough bass and venomous riffs. Sunnata has never sounded so psychedelic and… tribal. Just like paper bends with heat and humidity, the contours of our mind warp as the track progresses. In the belief of escaping from this furious dementia, the track plunges the listener into the final experience reminiscent of having ayahuasca, that shamanic beverage that we don’t know if it’s a one-way ticket to hell, heaven… or talking to God.

“Chasing Shadows” fully immerses the listener without being what you’d call a concept album. Each track weaves a singular doom landscape, which lulls (“Adrift” and its soulful backing vocals are truly otherworldly) bring continuity to the strangeness and complex arrangements. And yet most of the tracks exist individually through their countless narratives and themes. “Torn” deals with the loss of a loved one; “Saviour’s Raft” describes the feelings of the survivors on Géricault’s “Raft of the Medusa”; “The Hunger” explores the theme of destructive, pointless greed. The sheer melodic power and remarkable work on vocals truly set these songs apart.

As the band ventures into uncharted territory, pushing the boundaries of their sonic panorama even further, paradoxically, “Chasing Shadows” has never sounded so Sunnata; perhaps even more so than “Outlands”. Having completely unlocked a new space of creative freedom, Sunnata pinnacles the Sunnata Sound. Better still, they transcend it. This is what has made this band so interesting to follow for the past ten years. And certainly for the next ten years.

ARTIST: Sunnata
ALBUM: Chasing Shadows
RELEASED: 10th May 2024
LABEL: Self-released
GENRE: Shaman doom
MORE: BandcampWebsite

Last modified: 8 May 2024