When one thinks of the grand piano, the music often associated with it are classical compositions and maybe even jazz. Though the grand piano has been used in metal music over the years, the utilization has been limited to just a few tracks and fillers. When Sunrise Black claimed in their mail that they are probably the only metal band to use the piano as a main instrument in their music, I was sceptical. But having searched far and wide in the internet and not having coming up with any other names, I guess the claim is not so far-fetched after all. Using a new instrument in metal music is nothing new. But the way the new element is added in coherence with other familiar elements is what sets a band apart. This is exactly what this four piece from Malbork, Poland aim for.
The band’s debut, ‘Omnia pro Patria’ is well over a year old now and what baffles me is why this album was overlooked in the metal press when it first came out. What Sunrise Black has managed to achieve with this album is that they’ve taken something like the piano which is not very “metal”, for the lack of a better word, and they’ve infused it with the “metal” parts in a beautiful fashion.
The album kicks off with an intro that sets a very theatrical feel to the music and this is followed up by the first track ‘FireFest’. The harsh guitar riff kicks in without warning and accompanying the harsh tone of the guitar is a sweet subtle melody courtesy of much talked about piano. The guitar – piano duo, as contrasting as they are, work together to create a duality of harshness and melody. The amalgamation of the two tones is achieved by the means of a symbiotic relationship. When the guitar riffs take centre stage, the piano supports it by means of simple chords and likewise when the piano is churning out a sweet melodic segment, the guitar does the necessary to support it.
The coherence is not restricted to these two instruments alone as the music is supported by a strong rhythm section in the drums and the bass. The overall music is very progressive in nature and one might even slap on the tag of “avant garde” over it. As said before the music carries a grand theatrical feel to it. The interest of the listener during the long tracks is well retained by the progressions presented, as seen in the track ‘Rigor Mortis I: pro Patria Polonia’ for example.
As new and innovative as the music of Sunrise Black is, it is not without its flaws. One of the most noticeable ones is that the band tends to go off on extended melodic piano solo sections, which is not bad per se. But in the longer run, when repeated listens are concerned, they kinda bog down the momentum of the song. The track ‘Rigor Mortis II’ for example, is a very beautiful and experimental track which showcases a good keyboard – piano combination. But when listening to the album for more than 10 times, it might come off as filler material. Or maybe it’s just me and my inexperience in classical music. Another complaint with this record is that the harsh vocals are flat and at times, very hard to discern over the various different layers in the music. The clean vocals could also use a bit of a tweaking to avoid monotony.
The album closer is a musical representation of ‘Charles Baudeliare’s ‘Les Litanies de Satan”, and this track is the culmination of what Sunrise Black try to achieve musically. It’s beautiful, haunting, harsh and mesmerizing all at the same time and the piano is mixed into the music in the most perfect way possible.
‘Omnia pro Patria’ by Sunrise Black is daring and bold attempt of innovation which works wonderfully for most parts. This is something that anyone who’s looking for something absolutely fresh in metal would adore. If they can iron out the few glitches, the band has an excellent future.