Thursday, 19 May 2016

Sarcoptes - Songs and Dances of Death (2016) / 88%

Sarcoptes – Songs and Dances of Death (2016)
Cimmerian Shade Recordings

"Knock, knock, I'm Death, what's up!?"

Epic thrashy black, that's what up.

I do think it’s still possible for metal bands to release quality material falling in the traditional way we classify genres. After all, death, black or thrash are well defined styles played by a large numbers of young musicians. Nevertheless, bands playing one dimensional extreme metal nowadays tend to get boring and unimaginative. I’m not generalising, of course but bands like Vektor are much more interesting than generic shit like Bonded by Blood or Evile.

I mean, I’ll enjoy a new and well done old school death metal album but if I want to hear the style, I’ll go back to the classics (freaking Asphyx or early Deicide hits the spot). Damn, it’s nice to hear some inventiveness from time to time. Metal is a genre where almost everything has been done, bands who manage to impress with their distinctiveness are often the ones who are combining many genres at once to create some new concoctions. Sometimes, the recipe just doesn’t work and is inedible, some pretentious kids think they can compose 15 minutes songs of Opethian proportions and get away with it but you actually need a lot of talent to pull off those mashups. Sarcoptes are definitely above average on that front. The duo from Sacramento combines black metal with an healthy dose of thrash aesthetics and riffing (possibly due to their Californian origin) but they also add a huge helping of symphonic and epic influences to their superbly crafted debut album.

I like how the album flows, it starts with four six minutes tracks, delivering epicness in a well contained package and then the two longest tracks are unleashed at the end. “Barbarossa” and its thirteen minutes duration clearly was the highlight of this tight but expansive record for me. It ends with lasers and World War 2 warfare effects recalling the B series classic starring Jane Fonda but surprinsingly, it fails to be cheesy or ridiculous.

At times it sounds like it’s combining the early material Cradle of Filth (I don’t care what you guys think, Dusk and Her Embrace and Cruelty and the Beast are fucking excellent) with the melodic, riff based approach of Dissestion or Immortal at their thrashies. The symphonic arrangements are audible and sometimes in your face (the joyful conclusion of “Within the Labyrinth Mind” combined with the mighty blastbeats is incredible) but they’re never asinine or boring. They knew that the winning formula was to compose ultra good riffs before anything else, their songs are complex, rich and mostly fast while keeping the epic feel throughout the whole thing. The mid paced moments are extremely well done as well, their music has this sense of grandeur and it’s really interesting.

I’ve been mostly ambivalent towards symphonic black metal these days, I’m not quite following the genre as I think most of what I’ve heard is on the asepticized side but Sarcoptes with their clever mix of black, thrash, epic and symphonic metal could very well make me interested in the genre again

Oh and compared to Iron Maiden’s Dance of Death, the cover art isn’t crappy at all!

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