Back in the heavy days of Summer 2000, the music press couldn’t go to print without mentioning Nu-Metal. Korn, Limp Bizkit and Slipknot (where are they now?) were the citations of choice for those of a head-banging persuasion.
Fred Durst and co, minus the obvious attraction of Wes Borland, guitarist with a make-up fetish, have just released an album with the conciliatory (if not ironic) title of Results May Vary – it’s not exactly a confident pitch to the public is it? Nevertheless, as with contemporary fashionista-hype of a less curmudgeonly incarnation of seventies rock, the then flavours of the month no doubt inspired the hearts and chords of a thousand groups eager to imitate (and in so doing, most probably irritate) the zeitgeist.
Sunna are one such group, who as befitting a cut from the dark side, have since fallen by the wayside: when all the group’s official site can tell us is “error: bad request”, that is definitely a bad sign. The capricious recording industry does not deal out much justice in this case however, as One Minute Science is by no means a bad album’s worth of music.
Extensive touring of the US saw this Bristol-based five-piece (2 guitars, bass, keyboards, drums) forge a fiery, full-on, yet technocratic live rock sound, tempered by contrasting balanced ballads that bask in the afterglow. One Minute Science, supplemented with the spread of a string quartet, french horn and
occasional decks, demonstrates both extremes, plus a lot in between: the busy idiosyncratic five-four riff and raga-style vocals of I’m Not Trading, for example, contrast with the constituents of tracks like Preoccupation, a smooth unplugged amble with cerebrally-aimed lyrics.
Sunna can’t easily avoid comparisons with Nirvana, Foo Fighters or Marilyn Manson – as well as with the glut of Nu-Metallists – but the antics (charismatic to whatever extreme) any of these bands display are lacking here. Singer-songwriter Jon Harris creates Cobain-esque songs that are terribly, terribly earnest. Comparisons with Bush are warranted as both bands develop well-produced blends of powerful riffage, but then so did Pearl Jam, and what sets these bands apart, despite their success, is a perceived blandness.
A familiar first-hearing feeling of repetitive guitar and vocal parts is prompted by Sunna’s efforts, but on closer inspection the suppressed momentum of I Miss or the drum-looped Insanity Pulse become insidiously attractive. One Conditioning sounds like Radiohead‘s No Surprises reworked with a dark underside courtesy of a bass-heavy mix and subtle, spooky guitar sampling. Elsewhere, minimal sound effects and melodic choruses set off sparks in a song like O.D., and with_ Forlorn_, Sunna prove they can do “gentle” too.
Add more prominent turntablism and up the “Emo” factor and Sunna could perhaps be translated into the language of Linkin Park, the only Nu-Metal dialect seemingly to age well. With the likes of unexceptional Evanescence and Nickelback monopolising the rest of the sales quota it is likely that Sunna will be lamenting their luck. They are certainly not the only ones who might have contended in today’s discordant arena. D.Rose