Three years ago, a download link for reviewing purposes by a band called Sunflower Dead found its way into my mailbox. I wasn’t sure about their name but I checked it out, of course. The first thing I saw was the artwork for the album cover – the whole thing was stolen right from Kiss’ 1976 album Rock And Roll Over – if you shall steal then steal from the best. It was all done with humor and respect and for a huge Kiss fan myself I had to dive right into their music – maybe the sound would be influenced and borrowed from 70’s classic Kiss. It wasn’t. But that don’t mean that the album was bad, quite the contrary, I enjoyed the hell out of it. It’s Time To Get Weird was a heavy album but held a some very catchy and memorable melodies. At times they moved towards modern, American Metal and the production was a bit too compressed and thick which affected the dynamics. But despite that, the album was a damn good one.
In 2018, Sunflower Dead has changed some. Mostly image wise as their previous zombie-like make-up, obviously inspired by both Kiss and Slipknot, is now gone and the band is, so-called, image-free. Another change is that the band – Michael Del Pizzo (lead vocals, piano) and guitarists Anthony “Jaboo” Amen and Jamie Tiessere – now got a new rhythm section in ex Fear factory bassist Christian Olde Wolbers and Brian Weir on drums. They’re also recently signed to Megadeth bassist Dave Ellefson’s EMP Label Group and with the new record, produced by Dave Fortman (Evanescene, Slipknot), they hope to make a bigger impact on the Metal community than the last time.
Opener “Let Me In” is a slow and heavy piece, quite dark with a sinister vibe. It’s aggressive and rowdy yet with a big, memorable main melody. Angry yet melodic – very good. Leading single “Victim” is next. Mid-paced with a groove, a smooth melody-line and a memorable refrain makes it a perfect single choice. The verses are melancholic and goth-like with a slight Korn touch while the chorus comes with a catchy, clean singing voice with some agro-screaming vocals in the background. Sure, the tune leans towards contemporary American radio Metal but it’s not that mainstream. It’s a great song that stands on its own. “The Biggest Mistake” goes into ballad territory but it’s a heavy, punchy and hard one. It’s quite beautiful but with an aggressive edge to it and fact is, it would be a huge mistake not to release this as a single as it’s brilliantly catchy and it smells like a hit a long way – awesome!
“Through Fire” is another heavy piece in mid pace but it do sport a leaner side, aggressive yet very melodic with a refrain that’s even Pop-laden and it catches on right off the bat. Although the agro, metal-core like screaming vocals feels a bit misplaced and at times a bit annoying but they don’t ruin anything. The catchiness of the tune tells me we probably have a future single here and it should be as it probably will result in lots of air play on Rock radio. A really good tune. “Savior” is upbeat, punchy, aggressive and hard, Metal with some menacing, angry, growl-like vocals mixed with clean ones and a very memorable chorus that sticks. Good one. “Kept Down” is a hard an angst-ridden aggressive Metal track with a punch that sounds like it want to beat you up bad. It’s straightforward and headbang friendly but also holds a chunky groove. Evil stuff. And good.
“Torn In Two” is a ballsy, tough and kicking groover with a big main melody, a tough rhythm that comes in a mid tempo. It brings on a dark atmosphere but it’s quite memorable at the same time. It’s a good tune but not as strong as the rest. “Counting All My Failures” brings on a somewhat saddening and moody feel but at the same, heavy and bouncy, very in-your-face and going for the throat. The catchy darkness of the song gives the tune a different kind of hit-feel and the intense groove gives it an almost Stadium Rock twist. It’s a big live track by all means. The album closes with a huge ballad called “Turn Away” that reminds me of the darker kind of ballads that Skid Row did around Slave To The Grind (1991). Dark and melancholic with a bluesy vibe yet heavy and striking and on top we get a smooth and memorable melody over a heavy rhythm. This is just brilliant!
Compared to the previous record, I think this one’s really good but not as good. The last album was a bit more varied than this and also, their nods toward Modern Metal is bigger here – which I guess is a way for the band to achieve more airplay. But that said, in no way does this album sound like a sell-out – it’s still a hard, aggressive and heavy Metal record full of melodies and catchy soundscapes. The use of agro, growly and screaming vocals are more prominent here as well and even though I know many a Metal fan enjoys that, personally I’m more for clean, well-sung vocals – and Del Pizzo is a really good singer so I would have preferred more of those. Production wise, this album is more pounding, fat and in-your-face than the last one without sounding over-produced so thumbs up there. But as a whole, Coma is really good Metal album well worth spending your well-earned green on. Let’s hope this album does the trick for them!
More Sunflower Dead reviews:
1. Let Me In
3. The Biggest Mistake
4. Through Fire
6. Kept Down
7. Torn In Two
8. Counting All My Failures
9. Turn Away