“I guess we stick out a bit,” confesses guitarist and singer Tim Bonney, as he discusses making it to the final of this year’s Metal 2 The Masses competition.
A hypnotic blend of prog rock frenzy and post-metal delirium.
“We play a lot of gigs with really heavy bands but we’re not really heavy.”
The band’s prog-influenced post-metal first drew attention in 2012 when they won the UK final for Hard Rock Rising by a unanimous vote from industry judges. “We were quite surprised,” admits Tim. “It was like an X Factor experience – so basically terrifying!”
Originally an instrumental band from Hampshire, Sumer are keen to exploit their growing popularity, although charismatic drummer Toby Bonney insists that they want to move away from competitions now.
Consisting of an unusual guitar trio, two vocalists, a bassist and a drummer, the band’s mesmeric style has been compared to the likes of Tool and Karnivool. Tim elaborates: “There are lots of bands who shamelessly rip off Tool and we’ve all been at that point in our formative years where we were just emulating our favourite bands. We’re old enough and ugly enough now to at least feel that we’re no longer doing that.”
Sumer’s combination of clear and raw guitar work contains similar elements found in Radiohead’s progressive rock albums OK Computer and Kid A – although bassist Taria Dawson doesn’t necessarily agree. “A lot of people have compared us to Radiohead, although I don’t hear it myself,” she states.
The rapprochement is also marked by Sumer’s evident melancholic flow. “We don’t really assign ourselves into prog and we don’t really assign ourselves into metal. We’re kind of a crossover,” says singer Tim.
The band’s dense, energetic build-up of fervent guitar strumming and prevailing clashing of cymbals creates a sonic structure of melodic distortion. This, combined with the softer resonance of Jeff Buckley-type vocals, alternating between Tim and Ian, makes for an unconventional yet effective formula.
Musician brothers Tim and Toby confirm that some influences stem from their upbringing. “Our dad was a concert pianist and both our parents loved Motown. When I got my first Soundgarden album, I thought, ‘Wow this is amazing,’ and Toby has always listened to heavier stuff like Megadeth.”
Co-frontman Tim claims that each member of the band plays an active role in the creative process of songwriting. “The way that we approach the music is that everything is born from jamming, because we like that organic feel,” he says. “We like the music to ebb and flow.”
Unknown fact: Sumer is not a misspelling of ‘summer’, or, as they wittily suggest, a shortening of ‘satsuma’. It comes from the Sumerian cradle of civilisation – a political angle the band have since given up, despite keeping profound lyrical themes.
Sumer’s musical talent is outstanding and all five members exude exceptional zeal performing live on stage. Their promising debut album was recorded at Fish Factory Studio with producer Sean Douglas and it will be released via the label Wild Heart Records at the end of the year.
Ian Hill **(vocals and guitar), **Tim Bonney (vocals and guitar), Jim Hall (guitar), Toby Bonney **(drums), **Taria Dawson (bass)
A magical trio of tangled electric guitars playing entrancing prog riffs against pounding bass, crashing drums and deep, soothing vocals
Album out at the end of the year via Wild Heart