I think there is a formula for what can grab my interest in music. Sure, I’ll take my traditional death and black metals, but I agree with some other distinguished members on staff when I say that genres are almost always more interesting when they are blended. Unlike some other members, however, I will always gravitate towards almost anything that is blended with hardcore. Sorry, I’m a kid from the Midwest who peaked in the early 2000’s. It’s just a part of my DNA now. When Surut came along with their self-titled debut, I knew I was on the hook.
Every band has their origin story, and some, if you examine them closely, almost seem larger than life. The story of Surut is much less grandiose, but I almost like it more because of that. Surut is 5 friends who decided to start a band together, all to celebrate their mutual love of hardcore, black metal and shoegaze. Sounds like the story of every band I’ve ever played in, and that’s exactly why it resonates with me. If they can do it, there’s no reason me and my friends can’t either! We’re probably going to need to practice a lot more in order to get to the caliber that Surut are at on their self-titled debut. The band are firing on very many cylinders here, and their blending of all things hardcore and blackgaze is spot on. Over four tracks spanning just over twenty minutes, the band rips through angular, aggressive hardcore, open and airy post-rock and melodic blackened post-whatever you call it these days. Apparently Surut have built up a name for themselves for their rowdy live shows, and I think the way their sound is recorded and mixed really gives you a strong impression of what they would be like live, if we are lucky enough to have them live ever again. That probably has a lot to do with the fact that Surut was mixed by none other than Dan Swanö, the man/myth/legend. But it also has to do with the visceral energy the band puts into these four songs. It goes by in the blink of an eye, but there’s a lot here that will stick with you long after the last track fades out.
It’s really not hard to see, upon first listen, what makes Surut stand out from the pack. They’re obviously hungry, and they have energy to spare, but what makes their sound truly unique is just how smartly executed and unique their take on classic formulas is. Sure, there are spots in opener “Vihollinen” that sound like Deafheaven worship, but when the d-beat kicks in in the middle and the melodies start to rise, it feels like being taken to another place. Of course, not even 30 seconds later you’re dropped right back down to earth by angular, atonal guitar riffs before the two-stepping chugs drop in to remind you of the band’s hardcore roots. The dark energy and unconventional style of “Nousen” is maybe the most interesting I’ve found recent hardcore to be, specifically from their taking of conventional tropes and making them fresh and inventive. The way the band plays with panic chords throughout this track is really cool, and as a technique that tends to get overused, it’s great to see them thinking outside of the box and using all their influences in a way that makes for some really compelling sounds. The definite standout here is closer “Palo,” though. It takes everything, from the lush reverb-soaked chords to the hardcore aggression to the transcendental vibes, and turns it all up to eleven with huge, soaring melodies and wild, howling vocals. It’s a great way to cap off a pretty fantastic listen.
The only thing I can truly say as a complaint about Surut is that I wish there was more of it. As far as complaints go, that’s probably the best one, and I truly am excited to see where the band goes from here. It looks like not much is capable of stopping them, and maybe someday soon we’ll even get to see one of their infamous live shows. For now, it’s enough to know they have made a significant mark with their debut release, and we’ll see where the next one takes them.