A few days ago, I tried to submit the L.A. duo National Sunday Law to the Metal Archives. My submission was rejected on the following grounds: "Not metal; does not belong." OUCH! At first I was indignant on behalf of the band and the half hour of time I wasted, but upon reflection, I can understand. Heavy riffing is only part of what National Sunday Law do, and it's not even what they do best. Plus, fuck Metal Archives.
Thus cold-shouldered by the grand definers of metal, National Sunday Law are turned loose to absorb whatever the hell they want into their debut La Storia di Cannibali. There's a whole solar system of sounds on this album, swirled together with synths, samples, looping pedals, guitars, drums, mostly screamed vocals. Mid-tempo buildups and big dynamic shifts, yes, boredom, no. Unlike your average post-metal band, National Sunday Law excel at the oblique stuff, the misty tense passages and liquid interludes and drone-chugs on hanging 7th chords. Opening track "We Dragged Our Tusks for Miles and Miles Before the Plains Devoured Them" inverts the standard post-metal's tension/release pattern, starting with an opening metal salvo and then (dis)quieting down for a creepy instrumental remainder. It's typical of National Sunday Law's approach, which balances heavy riffs with heavier mood. No wonder they've opened for such masters of texture as Mouth of the Architect, Nadja, Yakuza and Intronaut, whose Sacha Dunable provides guest vocals on the final track.
National Sunday Law do have soom room to improve when it comes to straight metal riffing. At least on record, their two-person rig just isn't powerful enough to destroy the planets that the less aggressive parts of the album float past. Derek Donley does his damnedest to fill in the missing bass with creative drum fills on "Dead Horse," but its early Don Cab riffs fall a bit flat. "Seconds Left" could do without the couple brief excursions into sludge -- they interrupt the stellar (in all senses), Shiner-esque starburst that surrounds them with a buzzkill earthiness and Darin Tambascio's pedestrian screaming. It's nothing that prevents La Storia di Cannibali from stretching out into some fascinating places. Just that the standard "metal" sections aren't them. Gotta love that cover art though. METAL HIPPO!!!!