The Smashing Skull Sessions

The Smashing Skull Sessions is a podcast, interview and review website, set up to showcase and support the underground rock and metal scenes. Our goal is to promote artists and bands from right across the globe, giving them another voice and another forum in which to get their music out to a greater audience. We also have a new review series, The Review Room, which is another unique way of getting bands and artists some extra coverage and promotion

SUNDOWNING - In the Light Of Defeat, I Cease To Exist

"...the following track, A Prison, A Cage throws all of that out of the window when it starts off with fuzzy guitars, downbeat tones and an eerie descending guitar lead. You will almost be able to grasp the sadness and despair in this song. A very heavy but also very touching piece of music"

Originally hailing from the bowels of the ruhrarea in Germany, Sundowning was a hardcore band which garnered a small following, but was consistently putting out well received records, that had a somewhat darker edge to them. In 2014 they played their last show and disbanded shortly after. Now around eight years later these guys are living all over Germany, and they have returned with their strongest work to date. In the meantime, two of the four members started their own mail-order called Evil Greed. Why is important you might ask yourself, we will get back to that later..

First, let’s talk about how this record sounds and feels. While these guys were straight up, a hardcore band, nowadays they feel a lot more at home in post-metal and sludge territory. They traded the angsty sound for something that has a lot more depth to it. The opener Exits Don’t Exist introduces a lot of noisy and outer worldly textures to their heavy and down tuned sound. While that sheer heaviness was always present in their previous material, it feels a lot more refined and thought out on this new record. The heavy vocals are mostly gone and replaced with clean singing that captures the vibe of this track perfectly. This song meanders like molten magma until it finally solidifies in a wall of noise. What an opener!

Imminent Ache continues this feel right away but replaces the sung vocals with heavy vocals that reek of desperation and existential dread. Reverb laden interludes trade places with extremely heavy distorted guitars, with vocals that seem to reach out of the depths of a mind riddled with dread. While the whole song is collapsing in on itself, Dylan Walker (Singer from Full of Hell) takes over the vocal reigns with one of the most surprising turns you could expect. While being well known for his angry vocals that lets you question how one person could sound so aggrieved, he is gracing this song with some of the most beautiful vocals this record has, all supported by an epic orchestration.

While the Previous Song ended on a somewhat melodic and almost optimistic sounding note, the following track A Prison, A Cage throws all of that out of the window when it starts off with fuzzy guitars, downbeat tones and an eerie descending guitar lead. You will almost be able to grasp the sadness and despair in this song. A very heavy but also very touching piece of music. This is the kind of song that will most definitely unfold an entire spectrum of sounds when blasted at full volume. Your neighbors will be very thankful for it… or not, but it is not their choice!

Armor of Indifference starts off very calm while building up a menacing and unpleasant atmosphere, only to explode in dissonant chords and tribal drum grooves. The cataclysmic spoken vocals just top all of that off, yes, this is the heaviest song on this record. It’s relentless, and creates so much tension, that the point where all of that is bursting feels like a bittersweet release. While every song so far has been absolutely exceptional, this song is the absolute highlight on this album for me. If you only listen to one song from Sundowning, let it be this track!

After the onslaught of what went before it, the record is closing on a somewhat placatory tone. In The Light Of Defeat, I Cease To Exist almost feels optimistic, the sweet relief of leaving everything behind seems to be the lyrical theme of this song. It continues to build steadily, layering guitars on top of guitars. Throughout this entire song it is very much present that these guys took their inspiration from Belgium Post-Metal Band Amenra. Definitely not the worst Band to be compared to. The Perfect closer for this fantastic tour de force.

This entire record feels like a band growing up, not just as musician but also as human beings. The soundscapes sound intricate and well thought out. The feelings these songs convey spark so many questions about the existence of us as human beings. After such a long hiatus it feels like this record is the absolute culmination of what these guys have achieved personally. Surely their experiences with building up Evil Greed is a huge factor why Sundowning was able to gather such esteemed personnel around them to create this record. For me, ** In The Light Of Defeat, I Cease To Exist** will end up very high on my Albums of the year list.