I think it’s fair enough to say that the heyday of metalcore and melodic death metal styles are gone. It’s not that they’re not viable or that there aren’t bands still doing those sounds justice nowadays, but the boom has long passed since its 2000s peak, and that makes anyone attempting to bring it back start out the gate with an uphill battle of sorts.
One such band is Sunmancer, a band I unfortunately lack concrete details for, but one thing’s apparent: they know exactly what it takes to scratch those specific itches on Nothing Ever Happens. Most accurately billed as just a general “metal” band than a specific subgenre, they certainly take some cues from those peak metalcore and melodic death metal days. This EP’s first track acts as a launchpad replete with solid guitar melodies, strong yet unassuming drums, and by the time you get to the hook’s cleanly sung vocals, you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into, for better or worse.
The thing with Sunmancer (which is a cool name, by the way) is that’s kind of where the enjoyment begins and ends to a degree. All six of Nothing Ever Happens’s tracks follow that same sort of formula: blast out strong with nice instrumentation that doesn’t relent, but also doesn’t push boundaries; get a nice hook in there, solid guitar leads, and that’s about it. The songs also ride a similar length with them being anywhere from just under three minutes to just under four. Some variance in tone, mood, or length would have fit Nothing Ever Happens quite well, but I can appreciate the band’s potential goal of keeping things tight for what is very much an EP. For any future LPs, I’d love to see them incorporate some tinges of atmosphere and more diverse approaches to their sound.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t fun to be had here. “Nexus Hive” has that neat melodeath feel to it in the intro, something akin to Arch Enemy from 20 years ago, with its guitar work - a liminal riff if you will. “Descender” has some genuinely catchy moments, the chorus especially, as does “Fatalist” which is a solid closer that does get into the groovier side of things with a slower pace and heavier modality. These things aren’t impressive enough to keep me returning to this EP, but after several loops of it they are some of the more notable times in Nothing Ever Happens’s 20-minute runtime that keep it moving well enough.
Not to be cheesy - I already was plenty a paragraph ago - but there’s not much liminal about this EP. It doesn’t feel particularly transitional let alone transcendental, but it does offer up some serviceable metal that will surely find an audience. I know quite a few people still into this sort of stuff, and its sole existence and persistence in the form of bands like Sunmancer is proof enough that it’s still a viable style of heavy music. I just fail to glean anything spectacular from it in either direction.
Bottom line: What is here amounts to teasing hits of nostalgia for me, but it’s for a style I wasn’t much nostalgic for to begin with. Nothing Ever Happens ultimately doesn’t push past that admittedly shallow barrier with its devotion to the more general aspects of 2000s metal weighing it down. If you’re into that sort of thing, you’re likely going to vibe much more with what Sunmancer’s doing, and I sincerely hope they find that audience.