If you were to ask an average music listener what they thought to be metal’s standout quality, there’s at least a decent chance he or she would mention the diverse and powerful vocal work in the genre, right? So what’s one supposed to do in a metal band without a vocalist? You might bring the drums a bit further forward into the mix, subtly work additional melodies into your sound, or even just set out to create the heaviest sound you can—to the point where having someone open their face would just seem wrong. On their new album, Revisionist, Brooklyn instrumental trio Sannhet pulls out all of these stops and then some, and delivers one of the most crushing and consistently-engaging listens of the young year.
Press play before establishing a firm standing position, and you’ll run the risk of being swept away bassist A.J. Annunziata and guitarist John Refano’s thick, grueling attack. And amid their storm of maxed-out amplifiers and tasteful reverb effects comes drummer Christopher Todd, whose pronounced, occasionally syncopated snare patterns leap up front and center in the mix—just as they do in the band’s live sets. Initially, there’s something about his technique on the skins that just sounds…off…but eventually, you get used to it, and realize how much Todd adds to the chaotic sound structure around him.
That’s one of the biggest achievements of Revisionist—and also, to be fair, on Sannhet’s previous album, Known Flood—how damn massive it all is. It seems impossible that this sound could be generated by just three guys. It’s best likened to being on a ship out at sea during a storm—waves crashing around you, gale-force winds enveloping you in a whirlwind, a blur of rain, thunder and lightning flooding your eardrums. And all this from a single guitarist, a bassist and a drummer. It’s thick, atmospheric and powerful—quite a damn thing.
Sannhet’s also paced Revisionist very well. With its nine tracks running their course in just 37 minutes (and most of them lasting less than four), the album’s given ample time to crush you without ever boring you. And credit to the band for their frequent and skillful juxtaposition of heaviness with calmer, haunting melancholy. After four initial tracks of more or less all-out attack, for example, we get “Sinking Forward,” which retains an immersive, haunting quality despite slowing the tempo and providing a moment for listeners to catch their breath. Similarly, after the relative chaos of “Atrium,” the introduction to “Empty Harbor” treats us to two minutes of ethereal post-rock before then kicking back into gear. These kinds of breaks are plentiful on Revisionist, and do absolute wonders for the album’s already-solid degree of listenability.
By the time things come to a close—with “False Pass” disintegrating into static and distorted, spoken-word recordings—we’ve been through quite a bit. There might be a few bruises, and you may have a lingering ring in your ears from all of the din. Sannhet have given us an album that isn’t merely made to be listened to, but truly felt. And after listening to Revisionist, you’ll never once question whether these side-effects were worth it.
Keep it heavy,