Friday 10 May 2024


Desert Psychlist's ongoing love affair with the Polish underground scene is no secret in fact we will often dub something released by a band/artist from outside of Poland, whose music blends high levels of intensity and complexity with earth shaking heaviness, as having a "Polish flavour" Today we have no need to use that tag as the album we are reviewing today comes straight from the source. Sunnata, Szymon Ewertowski (guitar/vocals); Adrian Gadomski (guitar/vocals); Michal Dobrzanski (bass guitar) and Robert Ruszczyk (drums/percussion), hail from Warsaw and have since their 2014 debut "Climbing the Colossus" quickly evolved from being new boys on the block to being one of those bands whose albums are purchased unheard based just on the bands reputation. Sunnata have just released their fifth album "Chasing Shadows" and if you are one of those who threw your money at it before hearing a single note believe us when we say that you have spent your money wisely.

 If the deeply atmospheric opening number "Chimera" does not make you feel like you have stumbled into a hidden temple where some deeply religious ritual is being acted out then you really need to get your chakras realigned, its initial mantra like chants and eastern flavoured motifs, slowly evolving into a dervish like whirl of heaviness evokes images in the minds eye not too dissimilar to those portrayed in the temple scenes of the movie "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom". Alt-metal/grunge has always been an element Sunnata have had no problem incorporating into their music and for next song "Torn" Sunnata bring that element of their sound to the fore, the band utilising not only the genres quiet/loud/quiet dynamics, slurred guitar tones and off-kilter vocal harmonies but also that grainy slightly murky vibe that has long been associated with the genre, albeit here possessing a more doomic and dank undercurrent. In Sunnata's world atmosphere is king and the king is in full attendance for the beautiful but brief "At Dusk (Interlude)" a delicious mood piece built around shimmering guitar arpeggios and sparse but effective bass. The following two songs "Wishbone" and "Saviours Raft"  are at totally different ends of  the heavy spectrum with the former a shamanic flavoured doomic romp and the latter an off-centred blend of textured post-metal, caustic heavy sludge and grungy doom. Next is "Adrift (Reprise)" a very short but highly enjoyable interlude piece with an Alice In Chains like flavour which is quickly followed by "Tide"  a song that could easily be considered a sister piece to opening number "Chimera" if it were not for its more wordy lyrical content, its use of percussion to create a sound not unlike that of dripping water is a stroke of genius. A mix of chiming and surf like guitar tones twinned with a groove that is partly tribal and partly indie/gothic gives next track "Hungry" a weirdly post-punk(ish) feel especially when combined with the semi-goth flavoured vocals that decorate it. "Through the Abyss (Interlude)", another heavily atmospheric mood piece, gives us just enough time to catch our breaths before Sunnata snatch them away again with the excellent "The Sleeper" a song that shifts from sinister and menacing to manic and raging in a very short space of time, the middle section connecting these emotions an unsettling and mind-frying wall of droning guitar textures. Final track "Like cogs in a wheel, we're trapped between waves of distorted time"  sees Sunnata closing out with an instrumental that feels like an extension of all the ideas the band have previously visited on the albums various interludes, a throbbing, sometimes shimmering, piece that comes over like a mix of early The Cure goth and British trip-hop, wonderfully weird and strangely hypnotic.

Devotees of Sunnata will already know that the band music does not fall easily into a category, the sound these guys make together is a carefully considered blend of everything from extreme heaviness to eastern exotica that touches on a myriad of other elements in between. The bands new album "Chasing Shadows" follows much the same path as the albums that proceeded it but yet at at the same time is different and that difference comes down the more expansive nature of its songs. Define "expansive" we hear you ask, its a good question and the answer is a simple one, and that answer is everything you have loved about the bands previous work, the broad soundscapes the heaviness and the feeling of shamanic spirituality are all here but so much broader, heavier and more spiritual.
Check it out .... 

© 2024 Frazer Jones


  1. Isn’t it the fifth album 😉 great review!