Sullen is a Portuguese progressive rock band that takes traditional prog and adds a little prog metal and the occasional dirty vocal combined with time changes and mazy challenging passages to create a unique sound that is almost a metal derivative of Echolyn, Spock’s Beard and Gentle Giant. In truth, the album is only 34-minutes but seems longer as so much is happening and is such a pleasing mixture of styles and sounds creating a true sonic soundscape. The music is rich, varied, multi-layered and multi-textured and manages to spring so many surprises.
Sullen is not a band I have come across before but they are different, strange and interesting so further investigation of the band’s first album, Post Human, which was released in 2015 is going to be necessary based on the skill, dexterity and sheer genius that has gone into the bands somewhat bizarrely named second album. Now, to quote the publicity, ‘Nodus Tollens is a neologism by John Koenig used to define the feeling of insecurity that some people get when they find that their lives don’t
make sense anymore’, I’m sure we have all felt this at sometime and, no doubt, have our own words to express our own sentiments on the feeling. I guess this means that the concept behind the work is that we all have to find our own way in life and keep trying and trying again until we get it right, to paraphrase, be positive and chase the stars! Given that this is Act 1 then I expect that there are more albums to follow of this or similar themes and these are to be welcomed.
The musicians have excelled themselves with this release and David Pais (vocals), Pedro Mendes (guitar), André Ribeiro (guitar), Ricardo Pinto (bass) and Marcelo Aires (drums/percussion /keys) can all feel justifiably proud of this work that challenges but is totally fulfilling. The music is heavy, dark and sombre yet also life affirming and up-beat as the band stirs your emotions and draws you into their own little world of wonder. This is metal but not really as we know it with some great guitar played with a Radiohead type fuzz and intense and brooding vocals that raise the hair on the back of your neck and there are plenty of deep and dark vocals too and these work splendidly even though I am not normally a fan of the more guttural type of singing. There are ambient passages, music noodlings, thunderous riffs and sound effects all inter-mixed to make a musical experience never forgotten and one that you immediately want to repeat.
Sullen is a band that is carving its own place in the rock firmament and blazing a new and different path to glory, you are advised to get in early just to see what is being offered and you will most assuredly be glad that you did.
The album is available from the usual download platforms and a limited number of physical copies are available from the band or Bandcamp.
Nodus Tollens – Act 1: Oblivion track list
- The Prodigal Son (4:29)
- Skylines (4:23)
- Soul Interrupted (1:47)
- Acheronta Movebo (5:34)
- Memento (4:25)
- Human (3:09)
- The After (2:32)
- Fail Safe (6:54)