Way back in 2016, the Philadelphia band Sumerlands released their self-titled debut album, a work of colossal bongwater-stained old-school heavy metal. Sumerlands weren’t even a doom band. Instead, they tapped directly into the stadium-sized hooks and the soaring riffage of, say, prime Judas Priest. It was a clear flashback to the age when metal bands still wanted to get huge, and it caused our metal columnist Aaron Lariviere to use the phrase “pure testicular thunder.” Then, for six years after that first album, Sumerlands didn’t release anything else. Today, they’ve triumphantly returned with a new two-song single with one new jam and one cover.
None of the members of Sumerlands are new to this heavy-music thing, and most of them have extensive and impressive resumes. Three of the five members of Sumerlands are also in Eternal Champion, another band that goes for old-school metal majesty and inspires rapture among the faithful. One of those Eternal Champion guys is Arthur Rizk, also of Cold World and War Hungry, and he’s now known as one of the great heavy-music producers for his work with bands like Power Trip, Xibalba, and Pissed Jeans. Other members of Sumerlands have done time in bands like Innumerable Forms, Wound Man, Mind Eraser, the Rival Mob, Boston Strangler, and Dream Unending. These are serious people.
On the new Sumerlands single Ageless Life, the original song is “Heavens Above,” a towering rocker that boasts high-pitched screams, grand melodies, evocative synth work, and ferocious guitar shredding. It’s going for a Dokken thing, and it’s landing it. The single also includes a cover of “I’m So Afraid,” the unsettled 1975 Fleetwood Mac deep cut that was never all that far from metal in the first place. Listen to both songs below.
The Ageless Life single is out now on Relapse.