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Sumerlands, 'Edge of the Knife'

You're on a desert highway at dusk, windows down with long locks whipping 'round the leather headrest. Endless pavement carves sand, but only an abandoned gas station and bleached skeletons break up the scenery. You barrel towards the unknown with little else besides a Big Gulp (caffeinated fuel) and a bottle of water (gotta stay hydrated) — oh, and the power of heavy metal. You need Randy Rhoads-era Ozzy, you need Dio-era Black Sabbath, you need Scorpions.

Sumerlands leans into heavy metal traditions with a big dang heart. The riff that girds "Edge of the Knife" not only wraps its claws around the moment of crisis, but hugs your neck in solidarity. As with other metal bands that look to the '80s (see: Haunt; High Spirits; Eternal Champion, with whom Sumerlands shares members), there's a battle jacket familiarity here: palm-muted chugging, copious-but-tasteful reverb, guitar solos that extend the melody and sky-high pipes. This is a high-impact power ballad with a heightened sense that every word may be your last.

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