Surprise is something we aren’t all that used to in the world of music since we’ve entered the 20th century. It would seem that originality went out the window a long time ago and it seems that bands often prefer to imitate rather than offer up a sense of uniqueness to try and stand out from the crowd.
Well allow me to introduce you to Yuma Sun, truly one of a kind. Hailing from Bergen, Norway - Europe’s rainiest city, you might think that they’d prefer to avoid performing music that is miserable, however, their lyrical themes are a lot more predictable than their musical style.
They dub their style as “Dommesdagrock“, which if you hadn’t already guessed is basically Doomsday Rock, but with a nice folky twist. It’s quite obvious early on that they aren’t big fans of positivity and happiness. The majority of their lyrics deal with pain, suffering, death, loneliness and man’s futile hope of salvation - lovely right? Don’t let it put you off though, what’s on offer here is a breath of fresh air that’s both catchy and addictive.
Kicking off “Watch Us Burn“ is doom’s equivalent of a party rock anthem, the licks on “St. Louise” reminded right away of old-school Franz Ferdinand, but you weren’t likely to hear them belt out “come on and die with me” - a great start. “Give Me Fever” is more of what you’re likely to expect from a band quantifying themselves as doom, what set’s it apart though, is the beat underlying the rhythm - it makes you want to get up and dance, you probably shouldn’t, but it feels right. It’s like that was the band’s intention when they wrote this collection of songs.
“Josephine” is pouring with influences from The Cult, but shimmers with an underlying darkness which truly sets itself apart.
The highlight of the album comes in the form of “Violets to Stone” with it’s slow, calm intro leading into the beautifully harmonised chorus, its simple but it works perfectly. The band draw on a number of traditional country influences on this track but add their own unique twist to what proves to be a quality showcase of the band’s talent.
“Mary” does a brilliant job of promoting the vocal range of singer Jaran, who’s pain-soaked wails and strains ride over the melody like waves. It’s powerful without ever truly trying too hard like some modern bands do too often. “War Has Begun” conjures up images of an apocalyptic barn dance, if I was stuck in a barn and it was the end of the world I’d be pretty happy if Yuma Sun were in there playing this song!
“High Road” is haunting and gothic, it builds up slowly to a dazzling crescendo of folk-doom wonder that would be fitting at the end of any Hollywood blockbuster. It features Aðalbjörn Tryggvason, frontman of Icelandic warriors Sólstafir, it goes to show that Yuma Sun have certainly caught the attention of some of the heavyweights of the genre. “Watch Us Burn” brings the whole album to a close with some wonderful Wild West influence and imagery, like riding off into the sunset.
I must admit I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first heard the name Yuma Sun, but on just one listen of this album I was sucked into this excruciatingly depressing folk-fantasy. Each song in this collection has it’s own sense of individuality. Yes, not every track is packed with a pounding riff or thumping baseline - but what’s wrong with that? Allowing yourself to go into this with an open mind and no expectation will guarantee you getting the most out of “Watch Us Burn” - a truly unique experience that is well worth your time.