Band: Hundred Suns
Album: The Prestallis
Label: New Damage Records
Genre: Hardcore, Post Hardcore
Country: United States
Release Date: 11th August, 2017
The term ‘Supergroup’ in music is defined as ‘a group whose members are already successful as solo artists or as part of other groups or well known in other musical professions’ (well, at least that’s what Wikipedia says). With the group Hundred Suns this is most certainly the case. We have the charismatic, wonderfully talented front man Cory Brandan of the much loved noise merchants known as Norma Jean. The group also consists of drummer Ryan ‘Legs’ Leger who is best known for his work on the Every Time I Die albums ‘Ex Lives’ and ‘From Parts Unknown’ respectively. The third member of the trio is Chris LeMasters who is formally of the Canadian Post-Hardcore band Dead And Divine who sadly split up in 2012 after releasing their wonderful third full-length effort ‘Antimacy’ leaving their fans to lick their wounds and wait for the individual members to resurface with new musical projects. Whilst all three of these groups are not stadium fillers by any stretch of the imagination (the world is a truly unjust place at times, as by merit and ability they all would be) this collective of musicians truly are of the highest underground pedigree.
Since the boys first reared their heads in the year 2013 it has been a rather snail-paced build to get to this point. Hundred Suns decided to take the ever-increasingly well trodden path of crowdfunding their debut release which as you can imagine takes some time to get off of the ground no matter who you are. The boys earned a sum that surpassed $20,000 with ease and promptly hit the studio with a heavy-hitting all star cast of a recording team including Producers Sam Guaiana (known for his work with Like Pacific), Jeremy Griffith (who has previously worked with Norma Jean and Underoath), and former Saosin guitarist (who just so happens to have worked with hardcore veterans The Bronx) Beau Burchell also working the well manned Production controls. With this many revered members of the Hardcore/Metal society involved this album could have gone in so many musical directions, but which one did it choose to go in?
The answer to that question is simple and it is NOT the way we expected. With members from such well established and beloved hardcore bands that revel in chaos and aggression you would be forgiven for expecting the debut release from Hundred Suns to follow suit and rip your ear drums to shreds. It is safe to say that this is not the case, the album is still heavy from start to finish and there is plenty for the hardcore fans among the audience to sink their teeth in to but it is certainly not in the same vein as the previous projects of this trio of musicians.
The album opens with the title track ‘The Prestallis I’ which serves fantastically well as an introduction in to what this new project has to offer. Cory displays his clean vocal skills over the top of an eerie keyboard part. As a Norma jean fan myself, this is a really interesting new avenue that the hardcore veteran has never really shown in his day job. This project appears to offer more in the form of Underoath’s ‘Disambiguation’ era in terms of the song writing and claustrophobic soundscapes than it does the bands that these gentlemen would be used to touring with such as The Chariot and Converge which quickly becomes apparent the moment that the heavily distorted guitars and hard hitting drums come in to play. The line ‘burn us, we are the effigy’ seems to be a call to arms and I have no doubt that when this band takes to the stage this will be screamed back at them by a collective of sweaty music fans.
The following track ‘Partner/Predator’ is a straight forward heavy tune. The riffs are solid and easy to bang your head to with tones that have been painstakingly selected to delivery as much punch and low end as possible without becoming too muddy and lost in the mix. One thing that Cory has always excelled at is being a lyrical smartarse and that is ever present here as the vocal lines interlink with the backing vocals to create hooks that are big enough to snag a blue whale. The quiet interlude towards the end of the song gives the listener a bit of breathing room before diving headfirst back in to the heavy chorus to end the song.
This whole album is chock full of great ideas, but where the true brilliance lies is in the simplicity. The ideas are delivered in a very professional and very impressive manor. The beats and fills from Leger are technical enough to keep the listeners attention without demanding it and dragging it away from the rest of the parts of the song (check out the brilliant drum break in the later stages of Bedburner). The lead guitar work from LeMasters does an excellent job of creating layers within the songs by utilising his effects pedals and tones without making his guitar sound like the Starship Enterprise. The track ‘Hellelujah’ boasts the kind of vocal lines that a number of Nu Metal bands would have been proud of with the combination of LeMasters and Leger laying down a thunderous platform for Brandon to work from as he snarls and growls his way through the verses before shifting in to Spencer Chamberlain-esque harsh clean singing voice that he has adopted so well for the colossal choruses throughout this album. This track also possesses the most poignant lyric on the entire album “hate speaks the loudest” which unfortunately is growing ever truer in recent times. Fortunately with music this good being churned out by hungry artists we have an appropriate escape from such things.
The boys have leaped the first barrier as a new band and have avoided falling flat on their faces at the first hurdle. They have a solid direction, a bucket full of ideas and the skill in their musicianship to pull of these ideas in a tight and effective manor. They are not reinventing the wheel here but they are certainly helping to improve the already well used design of the original. A promising, if unexpected debut.
1. The Prestallis I
4. Last Apology
9. Infinite Winter
11. The Prestallis II
Total Playing Time: 45:12