Here we have Ancient Art of Survival, the fourth studio album from US metal/prog act Sunrunner, out now on Minotauro Records. It's also the first album featuring new vocalist Bruno Neves, who joins the original trio of guitarist Joe Martignetti, bassist David Joy, and drummer Ted MacInnes. Though heavier and much more in the 'heavy metal/hard rock' camp than previous releases, Ancient Art of Survival still contains plenty of prog embellishments from time to time, with some intricate guitar passages and atmosphere creeping into the arrangements throughout. "Inner Vision" has a certain Opeth flavor to it in spots mixed with a touch of Metallica, and the hard charging "Tracking the Great Spirit" bleeds a little vintage Rush if you listen closely. Martignetti fires off plenty of tasty riffs on the album, and his solos are energetic & raw, but the real surprise are the occasional jazz or folk passages which add an extra layer of depth to the album. "The Scout" rampages forward with NWOBHM/thrash might, but it's "Prophecy of the Red Skies" that's the first jaw dropper on the album, a lengthy mini-epic with galloping riffs and churning arrangements, plus Neves' mix of James Hetfield roar & Zak Stevens' soar. "Arrive, Survive, Awaken, Thrive" is a cool instrumental that brings to mind early Iron Maiden, Joy's muscular bass lines up front and center, while the album ends in epic, bombastic fashion with the near 19-minute "Stalking Wolf", which is dripping with doom, progressive metal, folk, and atmospheric prog elements.
Overall, a very solid album from Sunrunner that showcases many of their talents at tackling multiple genres and making it all a pretty seamless experience for the listener. However, I'm not 100% sold on the production of Ancient Art of Survival, as there's a certain muddyness/flatness in spots where some of the tracks could have used a little brightening, but it's a minor quibble on what is otherwise a very easy album to recommend.
- Dawnland 0:29
- Tracking The Great Spirit 6:50
- Inner Vision 6:12
- The Scout 4:25
- Prophecy Of The Red Skies 10:13
- Distorted Reflection 1:33
- Palaver 8:03
- Arrive, Survive, Awaken, Thrive 5:15
- Stalking Wolf 18:53