Birthed from the members of Spitfire and Norma Jean, the Virginia-based Sunndrug has released their debut album, Exit Wounds, and it will leave you with a new respect for the musician’s mind. Now separated from the noise and chaos of metal, the band has captured a new spirit in the world of rock. Each song on the album brings slight variations to the band’s overall identity, one that is rooted in experimentation and texture, and solidifies the band as a new force in the rock world.
The entirety of the album is laced with mystery and a touch of disillusioned indifference, much like what is found on records from bands like Deftones or Radiohead. Jimmy Reeves’ vocals are purposefully produced with static and melancholy through an old-radio filter, but despite slight monotony from song to song, the voice-box effect is without a doubt intriguing and a definite signature for this emerging band. That vintage vibe is carried through to the guitar tones that tastefully explore the electronic atmosphere and to the simple grooves layered on top of the programmed beats.
The first single, “Denial,” opens with bold, direct guitar work that drives the song, opening the road ahead for the track. Sunndrug’s second single, “Shining,” is a cynical waltz with a 1920s attitude and a dark twist on the blues. “Stilts” builds from a whisper to an anthem over the simple line, “Feel the pressure. Hold your head up.” With perfectly placed instrumental songs, including the title track and “Echolalia,” the band allows reflection to set in and effectively create dynamics necessary to a strong album.
For the musician, this album is a work of genius. For the casual listener, its brilliance may be buried under the simplicity or an apparent lack of depth; the truth is the melancholy grows into curiosity, and the curiosity grows into an understated taste for the muted complexities of rock. In the mix of saturated synth and sound, the pure character of overdriven guitar and dry crash cymbals punch through with unique style.
Overall, Exit Wounds is confident and true to itself, a new sound in a sea of the same. The record hones in on the subtleties of songwriting and production, securing Sunndrug’s debut album as one that demands respect as a product of raw musical intellect.