Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sonne Adam: Transformation (2011)


Sonne Adam is an Israeli traditional death metal band whose first full-length, Transformation, was released through Century Media this year.

TransformationNo, that's not a mistype. It is traditional death on Century Media. Which makes me wonder why they would sign a band like this in the midst of their pop acts like The Haunted and Vampires Everywhere! Do they think traditional death is the next fad? Granted, it has generated renewed interest, but it's hardly the kind of thing they can push to the skateboarder/Hot Topic crowd they've geared their business toward. Maybe instead it's a bid to hold on to some of their lost credibility among the trve.

Whatever the case may be, Sonne Adam practice a style of atmospheric death metal inspired by none other than Incantation. It's mostly slow- to mid-paced, and it's heavy, with all the swirling guitar riffs you'd expect from the style. The guitar tone is a bit sludgier than the average band in this vein, which should make it sound filthy, but it doesn't.

That's where the Century Media touch comes in. For a second there, you thought this was going to be an exception to their agenda of destroying everything good about metal. No, the problem is, they forgot how death metal is supposed to sound, and they produced it clean. Instead of the sepulchral maelstrom of riffs that you should get, instead, you can clearly pick out each instrument, and there's sonic space to breathe. It sounds like they tried really hard to get everything right, instead of channeling The Beast. The result is that it falls flat, despite solid songwriting.

The Verdict: I keep holding out hope that Century Media will do something right. This should have been vindication, but it's not. Still, I wouldn't count the band out, as they do show promise. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.


  1. wow. you gave this album a 60% on Metal Archives? you're review sounds like your giving it a low rating because of the label that's distributing it. wtf does that have to do with the actual music on the album itself?

    the songwriting is top-notch but you don't like it cause it's "too clean" and you can "clearly pick out each instrument"? that's hardly a reason to give this album such a low rating. this is some of the best death metal to come out in years. i now know what site to stay away from if i'm looking for intelligent metal reviews

  2. Sorry you feel that way. I believe production is important, as I'm reviewing the album, as it was recorded and is available, not some hypothetical perfect representation of the songs as written and performed by the band. I know there are many who disagree.

    Also, 60% is not a bad rating. It's a slightly above average rating. And as I imply, I believe this band could do great things. Given the right production.

    Thanks for commenting!

  3. This is boring as fuck. There is so much better death metal out there. I think the rating was generous, given the content. There are some good parts, but this album makes me fall asleep in general. Some of the best death metal to come out in years? Yeah....ok. This blows.

  4. As someone somewhat related to the band (you may choose to believe it or not, I don't care really), I know for a fact that the album wasn't recorded under any "close supervision" of CM. These guys recorded it themselves, with 100% freedom to do as they like and they use CM to distribute the album, and not to tell them how to record it. It sounds to me like a large part of the bad score you gave this great album came from the fact that it's realeased by a major pop-metal label. The production is incredible and the fact that it doesn't have a "white noise" guitar sound only does justice with the evil riffs it has in it.

  5. The references to CM were to put the album into a larger context, describing the MO of that particular label and how they can ruin even things that should be great, through means overt or subtle. It had no bearing on the rating itself, although the production was a large part of the rating.

    I do think there are times when clean production is a good thing. I just think that here it was a terrible choice.

  6. I'm from Israel and I got to talk to the band a few times, and you can be sure the band finished the album A YEAR before even getting contacts from CM. This makes most of your review irrelevant. 60% is definitely a low score and under all of the whistles you can just say "I don't like it". Instead, you chose to blabber for hours about bad production. There is no question that the production isn't your daily dose of "already heard that sound" (which is probably what you're looking for), but saying the production is bad is outright dumb. The sound on this album is ancient yet fresh in the same time, totally bringing something new to our ears... finally! This album is great and I'm simply pissed about that low score.. simply pathetic and makes me think differently about this whole blog which I used to like.

  7. Wow, you Isrealis are fierce in your defense of the hometown heros. Honestly I doubt they got this mix before they signed. More likely the recording was done, but CM insisted on a new mix. That would be my guess, anyway.

    I guess I can see why people would like this production. It just sounds wrong for the music. With a different production this would have gotten a 3.5 or a 4, if that makes you guys feel any better. (It probably doesn't.)

  8. Hey, I'm the dude that commented on may 24th. We are pretty defensive of this band since Israel is pretty much a desert (pun intended) when it comes to metal.

    If you look at Israel's scene, you will find mostly metalcore, wannabe cheesy swedish melodeath and, well, more metalcore. oh, and there's Orphaned Land, most overated band ever which you probably heard of. I own hundreds of metal albums and this is the FIRST EVER Israeli metal album I felt I should buy. I also bought their EP. I usually don't care about which country which band comes from, but it's nice to know that I can finally go see a decent local act. It's nothing personal, it just hurt my eyes to see a 60% rating for such a great album for such lame reasons (which are partly untrue as well). It's just weird that you say CM didn't influence the score while about half of your review consisted of talking about CM.

    What you said in your last comment about the mix is totally wrong. I know the person who mixed this on a first name basis, and again I can assure you that CM did nothing more than distribute this album. You're entitled to a bad opinion about this type of sound for this type of genre, of course, but please keep CM out of this. This is a DIY album, made by the band without any outside intervention whatsoever.

  9. "Honestly I doubt they got this mix before they signed. More likely the recording was done, but CM insisted on a new mix. That would be my guess, anyway."

    Looks like you base your reviews on guessing? How about checking your facts before heading to the keyboard, friend?

    Nice example of bad journalism.

    I like your metal-attorney-objections facade you're running in this blog, but trust me if there was a judge involved as well - he'll drop your case in no time.

  10. Anonymous, I'm not a journalist. More importantly, you guys need to get over it. My review isn't going to set the tone for everyone else's opinions of the album. It's just a drop in the bucket. But let's take a look at a few other opinions.

    Angry Metal Guy
    3/5 rating (sounds familiar)
    "To be frank, I’m fucking astounded that this record is coming out on Century Media at all. There is nothing even remotely commercial about Sonne Adam. . . .
    "I’m not really sure that it’s going to stick with me for too long or end up on my end of year list or anything."

    Don't Count on It Reviews
    score: 7.5
    "I'm honestly surprised that this record is coming out on Century Media Records, I really am." Gee, that seems to be a recurring theme. "While it's still a bit immature in terms of songwriting, I feel it could be better, it's certainly not a bad place to start."

    Mtuk Metal 'Zine
    (no rating)
    Funny, another one that starts by talking about CM. Seems like an important point. "I do not want to use this comparison as negative criticism, but as the Century Media press-sheet babbles on and on about Sonne Adam being so fresh and original it starts to really bug me as the listener. This band has not invented anything new; they’re not some sort of revelation, not some sort of innovators of the Death Metal wheel."

    rating: 9
    Another one starts by talking about CM. "Some may argue that the pristine production ruins the old school death but, quite frankly, it doesn’t with tracks like opener ‘We Who Worship the Black’ proving so - who says fuzz and feedback needs to be the ultimate extreme?" I guess it didn't bother her. I quite like the song she references, though.

    Besides that last one, I can't seem to find another review that even mentions the production, strangely enough. I would think that would stick out like a sore thumb. So, in other words, this isn't a big deal.

  11. It's not a against the law to comment about the record label in a review. It is, however, pretty non-professional to claim without any research, that the record label influenced the mix/sound/whatever. Check your facts, sir.

    These people were surprised, like anyone else, that the pop-metal label signed an old school band. The fact that they mentioned CM in their reviews is irrelevant to the point I've been trying to put across.

  12. I have not missed your point, but I think you have missed mine. Whether they actually influenced the sound of the album is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the sound is appropriate to Century Media. I assumed they had a hand in the production of the album (normally a safe assumption to make) and built my narrative accordingly. It makes no difference that the album was already mixed before CM picked it up--it's still a CM-friendly mix, and hence, it is the Century Media touch, as I said. And, in my opinion, it's just as bad either way.

    But then again, this misses the even larger point, which is that it's not worth getting that worked up over a review on a blog that gets anywhere from 60-120 hits a day. This is just my opinion, after all.

  13. You really dont know shit about death metal man.
    So listen carfully boy.
    Incantation = BRUTAL death metal - shit sound for nerds like you.

    Sonne Adam = Death metal - pure death metal - like death, grave, unleashed etc..

    Go listen to those albums i think you gonna like it.

    So just to be clear Boy one more time for the road

    Sonne Adam = Death metal,
    Classic death metal yes?

  14. You really took this personally, and that's too bad. Name calling reduces the debate to childishness. I'll decline your invitation to engage in that.

    To set the record straight, Onward to Golgotha had a muddy production. It's not about a shit production at all. That's what Sigh does, and I don't like their production either. It's about a muddy sound, which can still sound good if done right.