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Music Review: The Sullen Route – Apocalyclinic

Album cover for The Sullen Route - ApocalyclinicThe Sullen Route is a four-piece band from Volgograd Russia. Moving away from their death metal roots, they branch out into new territory with sophomore release Apocalyclinic.

The band’s label Bad Mood Man Music has this to say about their style:

“«Apocalyclinic» demonstrates evolution from orthodox doom death metal to the area which cannot be definitely classified: in the new work of the musicians one can find influence of dark metal combined with features of post metal and progressive metal, extreme vocals, and powerful and solid sound.”

I don’t really hear much death metal on this album. Rather, it has more of a late 90’s/early 2000’s feel with lots of palm-muted power chords laying down the rhythm underneath lead guitar with lots of reverb and picking. In fact, Apocalyclinic is basically a heavy, melodic album—much closer to the works of traditional band Helmet than death metal act Immolation.

This line from the label accurately depicts Apocalyclinic’s main strengths:

The essential advance in music is manifested by refined structure of compositions and brilliant mastering.”

Song writing on Apocalyclinic is excellent, and makes the album greater than the sum of its parts. Like many Russian bands, The Sullen Route do not rush their music. The shortest song on the album clocks in at over five-minutes, and the longest is over eight minutes. Often times, bands who write songs at those lengths add a lot of filler, but not The Sullen Route. The band shows tremendous aptitude for combining simple arrangements in exciting ways. Songs like Selfish I show an uncanny knack for knowing when to add a bridge, when to go heavy, when to go soft and how to transition from one to the next.

Vocals on the album range from very good to poor. When vocalist Elijah screams and growls, he is at his best. But when he tries to sing, it’s just not there for him. Tonight’s Avenue Is a straight-up power ballad that calls for singing. Elijah’s gravelly voice just doesn’t do it justice. Heavy songs like Cynoptic and All in October are more of a natural fit for him. Dune and Hysteria are in the middle ground where the singing fits, but neither adds nor subtracts from the overall experience.

At first listen, I was not very impressed with Apocalyclinic, but the album grew on me. If you’re looking for a quick pop fix, this isn’t for you. But if you enjoy the late 90’s/early 2000’s sound, there is a lot to like on this album. Also, if you’re sick of the limitations death metal imposes on itself, Apocalyclinic just might be that bridge to more open styles of metal for you.

Track List:

1. Hysteria
2. Selfish I
3. Burial Ground
4. Cynoptic
5. Dune
6. Tonight’s Avenue
7. All In October

The Sullen Route – Apocalyclinic

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