Over the course of 10 years, Toronto’s Sumo Cyco has gradually risen in the ranks of modern alt. metal, sharing stages and standing toe-to-toe with some of the biggest names in the genre. As the band’s third full-length record and first on major label Napalm Records, Initiation is true to its title as it presents a vicious collision of hyperkinetic punk and metal infused with the kind of melodious energy one rarely hears outside of mainstream pop music, with just a hint of edgy electronics for good measure. Take, for instance, a song like “No Surrender,” in which a Matt “MD13” Drake’s tremolo-effected guitar and Matt Trozzi’s shuffling rhythms create a solid march upon which Skye “Sever” Sweetnam’s angular and dynamic vocals dig into the psyche with lines like “Nothing you can’t overcome” and, of course, the song’s title; it’s striking and anthemic in all of the best ways. The same can be said for “Cyclone,” Trozzi’s breakneck drumming and Oscar Anesetti’s guttural bass going right for the jugular as Drake’s guitar acrobatics almost sound like a demented mariachi, Sever’s repetitions of “I can’t help myself” like the eye of the storming chorus, while the vocal melodies of “Vertigo” just sound like a virulent radio hit just waiting to happen. Other songs like the somewhat jaunty “M.I.A.” and the seething “Bad News” help to emphasize Sumo Cyco’s somewhat wittier and whimsical facets, the latter particularly engaging with the post-millennial “whoas” of the backing vocals adding to Sever’s tongue-lashing riot grrl venom; the way she juxtaposes the roaring metal with lushly saccharine pop is an especially effective and potent quality to Sumo Cyco’s music, on top of the band’s accomplished musicianship and the slick production. The way the electronics interact with the rest of the instrumentation throughout the album, but especially on songs like “Bystander,” “Run with the Giants,” and “This Dance is Doomed” only serves to enhance the fluidity of the arrangements. And if that weren’t enough, Initiation was given the deluxe digital treatment with the addition of four songs, the new closer of “Sun Eater” striking hot and heavy like a deranged locomotive of hard rock energy and celestial lyrics that sound like Icarus screaming vengeance against the sun. The glitchy EDM production touches on “Awaken” give the song some added bite… not that it needed it as it barges through the speakers with blunt force metal trauma, while the howls of “Gonna break down the boundaries” and “I’m not gonna let you fall” on “New Jive” and the sociopolitical chants of “We Are the Nation” resound as poignant rallying cries for a generation in need of something better to believe in. As major label debuts go, Sumo Cyco has delivered a virtually flawless album with Initiation – it expands on all of the band’s strengths, amplifying them into a mission statement for the current music scene.