Buckinghamshire beatdown crew, Sudokara, formed at a Knocked Loose show when guitarist, JJ, bumped into drummer, Will, in a moment of post-gig euphoria. They agreed on the spot that they needed to start a violent hardcore band. Finding a vocalist was easy – Will’s college buddy, David, had a talent for the absurd vocal techniques at the extreme end of the metal spectrum. Thus, spake Sudokara.
Metal fans in the London commuter belt counties of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire will know Sudokara as one of the up-and-coming acts of a deathcore scene to which they don’t belong. They might draw inspiration from hardcore and flirt with the revivalist tendencies of nu metalcore, but Sudokara’s aesthetic is a bleak one. “Is man merely a mistake of God? Or is God merely a mistake of man?” reads the slogan on last year’s debut single, ‘Disgust’.
Unlike modern deathcore, Sudokara do not embrace the quantised guitars and typewriter drums. Nor do they exaggerate the malevolence of their songs with black metal antics. The band’s debut EP is more of a demo. At six minutes in length, it presents the danger of underwhelming those spectators that witnessed the power of their live shows but have yet to hear them on record. Opener, ‘Messiah’, sets the tone with an execution-style bassline designed to cloak you in the shadow of the grim reaper. JJ’s guitar follows the same sequence of drop-tuned notes but soon abdicates total control when the grotesque vocal misdemeanours enter the mix. It might be only one minute and forty-one seconds, but it’s a traumatic experience for the listener. Dissonant chords induce a feeling of nervous tension, like when your stomach tingles at the prospect of danger. The band reproduce it better on stage than on this recording, yet it does not disappoint.
‘Bleach’ is the song the drummer and guitarist most admire, but the downward chromatic chord patterns do little to elevate it above anything in the contemporary beatdown scene. By contrast, the seething vocals mark it out as a different beast – more alien than human. Here, double-tracked screams thrive on a misaligned roar of ritual gut-bleeding. The grinding guitar and bass incursions towards the end let the tempo fall until it feels like the last axe blow against a helpless corpse.
You might not hear the hardcore spirit of Sudokara until you reach closing track, ‘Purgatory’. That’s because the demonic vocals are the dominant feature of this music. The same chugging riff navigates through the half steps to remind you that your last minute on this earth will expire. A tempo change at the half-way mark negotiates the transition from beatdown to hardcore punk with low-tuned guitars unsuited to a forceful change of pace. It’s like the serial killer who murders on impulse despite meticulous planning – it still feels good, but it could have been cleaner.
Sudokara’s debut EP is an evolutionary record that they’ll soon box away when they move forward with the new material in their pipeline. These songs deserve to stay in the live set, but they will not define the band as they grow into a more complex musical entity.
Release Date: 16/05/2023
Record Label: Self Released
Standout track: Purgatory
Suggested Further Listening: Ten56 – Downer Part. 1 (2021), thrown – Extended Pain EP (2022), Glassbone – Spirals EP (2022)