Oklahoma has never been known for its heavy rock scene, but that might change if the likes of Sisteria have their way this fall, and it’s all because of their new album Dark Matter. Dark Matter is getting some seriously positive feedback from rock critics and serious fans the same, and it’s not because of cosmetic frills or any particularly glaring features within the construct of the music. As ironic as it sounds, this indulgent variety of music is being presented much more efficiently in this LP than one might expect, which is leading a lot of people to get swept away by the immersive qualities of the material here.
The lead vocal is by far the most powerful element of fragility and grace in this record, but it’s not produced as an element of contrast exclusively. On the contrary, it’s balancing out the rhythm of the music in “Om – Yes,” “Star Child,” and “Ramblin Woman” in a fashion more akin to singer/songwriter material than anything in the rock n’ roll realm. I think the mixture of soft and heavy themes in Dark Matter winds up being one of the album’s most charming attributes, especially when taking into account just how few other acts have been willing to utilize juxtaposition in recent times.
There’s a substantial amount of sonic weight being thrown around in “Hunger,” “Winter Crow,” “Wade My Way,” and “Burial Ground” despite the absence of an imposing mix, and this only proves further that Sisteria isn’t relying on a heady production quality to sound magnetizing here. If anything, they’re working around the limitations of a recording studio by exploiting analog elements for everything they’re worth, putting themselves more in line with the retro metal movement of the mid-2000s than anything else going on today. Call it a throwback if you want, but I don’t recall Witchcraft or Turn me on Dead Man getting as much attention in 2006 as these guys are now.
“Pale in the Darkness” and “Reaper” were made to be heard in a live performance, but they don’t sound condensed for the purposes of an album in this setting at all – truth be told, none of this material feels like a halfhearted version of what we might hear on stage. One of the most intriguing parts of Dark Matter is its unrelenting rawness, which has been hard for me to come by in the mainstream lately and sounds even more endearing here than I would have anticipated.
Combining influences for something original is at the foundation of all great rock music, but with what they’re trying to accomplish in this string of performances, I think Sisteria is going well above the status quo right now. Dark Matter is a hard album to put down once you put it on, and whether you’re taking a desert road trip or leaning into the autumn with a little less oomph, its tracklist has the right selection of whiskey and weed-influenced commentary to make you feel a little more relaxed about the future for indie rock still ahead.