In response to the question no one anywhere ever asked, "What would it sound like if Avril Lavigne joined hed(pe)?" comes Sumo Cyco and their debut album Lost in Cyco City, a blistering and vicious assault as awesome as anything released by Powerman 5000, hed(pe), or Limp Bizkit at their fiercest and most productive. Sever's vocals make music already mind-numbingly awesome sublimely awesomer.
The Avril Lavigne comparison comes easy and early. Sever's vocals sound remarkably similar, but Sumo Cyco crunches harder and longer than anything Lavigne has produced in ages. Some of the Lavigne attitude shows up, but very little of Lavigne's relationship tropes appear. A significant amount of boasting and aggression do show up in tunes like "Fighter" and "Like a Killer," but the level of violence in Sumo Cyco's lyrical content puts anything in Lavigne's library to shame. Despite the inherent threats in "You won't survive it/Let's start a riot!/Cry cry cry cry Murder/Cry cry cry cry Murder" the tunes come across as ridiculously anthemic with catchy hooks and lyrics that stick in your skull long after the album's ended.
Leaving the comparison behind, a look at Sumo Cyco's Lost in Cyco City on its own merits still leaves me in awe. I am in love with this album, from the vocals of former pop star Skye Sweetnam (now Sever) to the power drumming of Andy Joseph (aka The Wolf), the driving bass of Ken Corke (Thor) and the melodic supporting rhythm guitar work by Matt Drake (MD). Not one song in this album lets up, and the only time to catch a breath is between tracks.
Lyrics like "Condition is dire/like a guillotine wire./All my desire/Come on fuel my fire" don't always make a ton of sense beyond their poetic sound (guillotines have ropes, whereas garrotes depend on wire for their impact, and "garroting wire" fits the space, but I guess more people know guillotine than know garrote.) It must be remembered, however, that the line "I pack a chainsaw/and skin your ass raw" from "Break Stuff" by Limp Bizkit makes about as little sense and that tune was one of their biggest hits.
Before founding Sumo Cyco as an effort to gain more control of her career and move to a more rock/punk/metal sound Sever recorded two pop albums of a style and quality to earn her a spot as opening act for a Britney Spears tour. Personally, I'm a much bigger fan of her current sound with its reliance on strings and drums, high-quality production values and very little reliance on digital wizardry and synthesizer. Given the probable trajectory of a pop career, the move to punk and metal assures Sever/Sweetnam a longer career, more independence and more artistic integrity.
Given the quality of Lost in Cyco City, I can only hope that career, independence and integrity continues, pushing Sever to keep punching out singles and albums. We'll all benefit, and maybe Britney Spears will take some advice and do the same - it would certainly be better entertainment than watching her shave her head.