Review by Greg Maki
It’s easy—for critics and fans alike—to use genres and subgenres to classify recording artists. It’s a form of shorthand that we all (or most) have agreed upon, a way to sum up a band’s sound in just a few words. It can be helpful, especially for a new act seeking its target audience. But it’s 2021 and lines have become so blurred, influences so intermingled, that such labels seem to be losing relevance by the day.
Take Canadian rock outfit Sumo Cyco. Metal, pop, punk, dance hall rhythms and electronic sounds swirl around in all 12 songs of its third album, “Initiation” (its first for Napalm Records), coalescing into a whole far greater than the sum of those disparate parts. Described as a concept album based on the fictional Cyco City but with lyrics inspired by real-life events and emotions, the record feels like a journey through the musical lives of all four band members—singer Skye “Sever” Sweetnam, guitarist Matt “MD13” Drake, drummer Matt “Trozzi” and bassist Oscar Aneset—and it takes significant contributions from each one of them to bring this eclectic mix of styles to life.
Each song is distinct, each with a personality all of its own, and the album is sequenced in a way that refuses to allow listeners to settle in with one particular sound and predict what’s coming next. (Arguably, the most effective one-two punch is “No Surrender,” one of the record’s most straight-up rocking tracks followed by the drenched-in-electronics “M.I.A.”) It doesn’t ask for or even demand attention—it grabs your ears and refuses to let go whether you want it to or not.
What I’m ultimately getting at is that this is an incredibly creative and infectious record from start to finish, packed with undeniable energy and enthusiasm—and impossible to categorize with a handful of words. If there’s any justice, it will be the “Initiation” for legions of new Sumo Cyco fans.
Napalm Records – May 7, 2021