Hundred Suns is the long-awaited side project of Norma Jean vocalist Cory Brandon, Ryan “Leg$” Leger (former drummer of Every Time I Die), and Dead And Divine guitarist Chris LeMasters. Any supergroup comes pre-loaded with expectations, whether from the very hopeful who expect something awesome or the very cynical who expect something awful. The very hopeful won this round. Prestaliis is a thoughtful work of melodic metalcore/post-hardcore laden with grooves and quality songs.
Prestaliis will be released on August 11, 2017 by New Damage Records.
The “Prestaliis” Sound
In terms of sound, Prestaliis sounds like the album Norma Jean fans wished 2016’s Polar Similar sounded like. Hundred Suns made a work with the same laid back groove and feel, but the songwriting is on a higher level than the more famous band’s recent work.
Given the stable songwriting formula, a few things make individual songs stand out. Vocal lines and choruses matter, but the odd heavy riff or two will raise an eyebrow when it comes along. Hundred Suns avoid obvious breakdowns, soaring choruses, and deliberate “Jeckyll & Hyde” transitions from clean to unclean singing; in other words, Prestaliis scores points for lacking most metalcore clichés.
Two title tracks (with “I” and “II” appended to their names, respectively) bookend the album. The first one fades in softly, has a profound climax, then fades into something almost like a nursery rhyme. The second title track is nearly a clone of the album’s opening song, only longer, noisier, and with a lot more screaming; a triumphant ending.
“Amaranthine” (a song that will never get mistaken for an Amaranthe song with the same title) is about human trafficking and child exploitation. Anything but uplifting, it has a strange beauty to it all the same. Its main strength lies in dynamics, only going full out with the blasting guitars at just the right moments, and layering the guitars in just the right way.
Being the sixth of eleven songs, “Fractional” is Prestaliis’s literal centerpiece. It has the most generically metalcore-ish soaring chorus after a deliberate buildup and a despairing ending. Despite bucking the album’s trend by playing straight metalcore, it deserves its central placement on this album.
“Last Apology” keeps with Hundred Suns’s tendency to focus on Cory Brandon’s singing, which is a bit of a shame on account of the interesting riffing going on underneath it all. The song’s lyrics deal with pride and indignation, the need for closure that never comes; these are subjects that Brandon must be really able to relate to, considering the number of bands he has been a member of over the years.
Metalcore is the great cosmic whipping boy of the metal world. Anyone can score points on a Facebook thread by making a sarcastic joke about metalcore. Almost a guilty pleasure subgenre, many metal fans who claim to hate it have at least one metalcore band they claim as the only one they will listen to.
This raises a suitable question: why bother making another metalcore band? Why indeed, for three members of well-established bands in the genre. From the fan perspective, the question is, “Why bother listening to another metalcore band?”
The answer to most “why” questions in music almost always lies in the writing. By collaborating with each other, these three musicians created something that never would have been made by their own bands. Hundred Suns have the songs to make Prestaliis worth listening to.
Given that the songs generally do follow familiar patterns of fade in, riff, buildup, loud climax, then slow release; listening to the album might make one’s attention wander. Prestaliis instead would be the kind of album to put into shuffle mode with music by other bands. That will show how Hundred Suns stands out.
Notable Tracks: “Fractional”; “Amaranthine”; “Last Apology”; “Infinite Winter”; “The Prestaliis II”
FFO: Norma Jean, Every Time I Die, Dead And Divine
Prestaliis by Hundred Suns is available for pre-order through New Damage Records.
The album will also be available from all of the usual download and streaming services. Hundred Suns are currently on tour throughout North America, with dates through August 2017. Hundred Suns can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, and Instagram.