There comes a time in every journalist’s career when he or she sits at a blank screen for what seems like an eternity, wrangling with how to open an album review before giving up and discussing how hard it’s been to come up with a snappy, punchy beginning instead. Usually there’s an ulterior motive behind this and more often than not it’s to avoid discussing a record that has not tickled the fancy of the reviewer in question. When it comes to Opus Mar, the sophomore album by Canadian upstarts SUMO CYCO, however…well strap yourself in, this could get ugly.
The quartet from Ontario have actually been pretty busy in recent times; they’ve managed to bag themselves support slots with the likes of FOZZY, ALIEN ANT FARM and SKINDRED over the last eighteen months and are due back over on these shores imminently for a co-headline run with the excellent DEVILSKIN. Quite frankly though, it’s mind-boggling that they’ve managed to share a stage with names like those mentioned when their musical output is as tepid and dull as that mug of tea you’ve begun drinking and then accidentally left on the side for a couple of hours. Opening song Anti-Anthem shows a flash of promise but it’s snuffed out quickly by the angsty and sub-par vocals of Skye Sweetman and then inexplicably changes style halfway through for no reason whatsoever.
The segue into Free Yourself is actually decent but the song is whinier than the vineyards of southern France and despite the added factor of the aforementioned SKINDRED frontman Benji Webbe, on third number Move Mountains, the song actually feels like one that was left on the cutting room floor by the Newport reggae-metal giants; the same applies to later tracks Rivalry and Can’t Put Me Out. Kids of Calamity, meanwhile, is probably the lowest point on the album and lives up to its title perfectly, lacking any form of bite and arriving ten years too late to make any sort of impact with its mid-00’s vibe. The stand out, if one can use that term, is Brave II, where Sweetman’s rapping abilities are brought to the fore and aren’t shabby at all, allowing for a solid, if fairly generic, nu-metal feel to proceedings, but for the most part the frontwoman sounds like she’s trying too hard, coming across strained and jarring. The guitars and drums have been done far better by a lot of other bands – coming across wholly uninspiring – and the lyrics wouldn’t look out of place in a 14 year-old’s secret diary.
The word ‘opus’ is usually associated with the term ‘magnum opus’, used to describe an artist’s best or most widely appreciated work. Maybe Opus Mar should mean the exact opposite, because this is so toothless it’s in contention for a lead role in the next How to Train Your Dragon film. It’s ironic that the album finishes with the sound of a locomotive safely travelling by because SUMO CYCO have delivered one hell of a trainwreck.
Opus Mar is set for release on March 31st via self-release.
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