By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
My partner in crime, Matt “Rabit” Martinez, cannot get enough of this one band from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. They call themselves Sumo Cyco, independent darlings that formed in 2011. I first caught them in 2018 at the Glass House in Pomona, where they amazed me with charismatic energy, wicked pop hooks, and fiery heavy rock riffs. Skye Sweetnam, better known as Sever, fronts them with her sultry voice and Harley Quinn personality. Their first two albums were released without any help from any record label. Catching the eye and ear of Napalm Records, they snatched them up and they been working around the clock perfecting their third record. Produced by their guitarist Matt “MD13” Drake (who also produced the first two); Sumo Cyco brings to us Initiation. Hearing the first three singles, I can tell the passion has gone up a lot, so I am excited to hear it.
We get Initiation underway with “Love You Wrong,” which was originally released as a standalone single in 2019. This tasty tune indicates what is to come on this album. Sever is both sassy and vicious with her voice. Drummer Matt Trozzi and bassist Oscar Anesetti bring metalcore attitude to the beat that goes with MD13’s alternative metal riffs. This is a dazzling alt. metal tune full of spark. “Bystander” has Sumo Cyco go even more psycho than the last track. Marked as the first official single of the album, the electronica makes a nasty mistress to the heavy metal groove. Sever walks the fine line of sweet harmonies and aggressive vocals, while MD13 adds pop metal hooks to his guitar licks. “Vertigo” is an excellent tune where Sever sounds like Britney Spears going postal once again. She does a marvelous job making this pop sounding song feel sultry and hostile at the same time. Anesetti is booming on the bass, adding more layers of meat to make it leaner. “Bad News” is the latest single, and the rifling riff from MD13’s guitar are very righteous. There are times where Sever adds some rap flow during the voices, and when gets in that mood, do not stand in her way because her sharp tongue will cut you down. The breakdown between the bass, drums, and guitar adds punk flavor. Sumo Cyco bring every style they play together strikingly.
“No Surrender” is a heavy rocker that does not offer anything special except good old-fashioned headbanging excitement. MD13 sneaks in a miniscule lick between the verse and chorus that helps transcends between the different styles. Trozzi is steady and wild on the kit, making the song that much more energetic. “M.I.A.” starts with a vibrant riff where electronica flair dominates with hard rock in toe. It has a little too much hip-hop in there that makes it more suitable for Cardi B or Nicki Manji. It is in the last chorus where Sumo brings in their metallic crunch. This is certainly not a bad song, but it sounds like it belongs in the world of rap than rock. We come to the halfway point of the record with “Cyclone.” This is a vast improvement as the beat is faster and gnarlier. Sever delves into the twisted minds of depression, singing to hold on to another day. The band adds some nu-metal flavor thanks to MD13’s Limp Bizkit style of playing. Raw, dirty, and crunchy, this is a personal favorite of mine, and soon fans will cry for the song to be performed. “Run with the Giants” is another standalone single released in 2019. Anesetti is punky with his bass, and it is infectious. It has powerful vocals that Sever nails. However, I am not too keen on the dance-pop beat, as I feel it trickles down the metal’s combative nature.
“Overdrive” has a beat that feels like the Bee Gees wrote. The disco-infused rocker sends Sumo Cyco to the dance floor, where they will be looking for a fight rather than a dance. It sounds like it belongs in a video game where the protagonist is looking conquer the main boss. MD13 performs the heaviest I heard on the whole album, and I dig how it came out. We now come to “Power and Control.” The band goes political as Sever relays the message of sneaky politicians looking to consolidate their power without us knowing. The brilliant combination of pop and hard rock makes the message that much clearer. “This Dance is Doomed” is their longer song, clocking in at 4:30. Judging from the lyrics, Sumo Cyco now take their shot at the media for spreading fear for ratings. Sever preaches with a fiery voice that is very commanding. MD13, Anesetti, and Trozzi channel their anger into some intensive playing. The album draws to a close with “Awakened.” This song does not explode off the music sheets as I feel that it too strait-laced. The beat and hooks are stellar, but I did not feel it is a strong song to wrap things up. Sever does a superb job though taming her vocals and sweetening her harmonies.
I am extremely impressed with the direction Sumo Cyco took Initiation in. It is full of pizzaz and charisma. The first half of the record as a bunch of phantastic tunes, while at times the second half felt a bit stale. They are still a young group, but this album puts in a new league with big dogs like Atreyu and Knocked Loose. MD13 nails it not only on guitar but also the producer’s chair. Sever dominates the vocals and shows us her sinister nature that is always welcoming to us. Napalm Records have gained something special, and with their guidance, more of the world will notice this group. Rabit is right to like them as much as I do. To Sumo Cyco, I salute you. Horns up!!!
1. Love You Wrong
4. Bad News
5. No Surrender
8. Run With The Giants
10. Power and Control
11. This Dance Is Doomed
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