(Here we have Austin Weber’s review of the new album by Sarpanitum, from the UK and Japan.)
I often follow new or lesser-known metal bands after hearing flashes of brilliance that hint at possible future growth and evolution. This is exactly the reason I began following Sarpanitum after hearing their 2011 EP Fidelium. It was an interesting effort, but now they’ve moved from hinting at brilliance in spots to displaying brilliance in spades on their second full-length, Blessed Be My Brothers.
If you want a sonic snapshot of what Sarpanitum seem to execute, song after song with ease, imagine a merger between Hate Eternal and Nile that then gets a heavy melodic boost and focus, while surrounded by blackened infusions and enhanced by atmosphere-building moments that add a dual epic/triumphant feel to Blessed Be My Brothers.
This is equal parts battering-ram-style beatdown, ethereal ghostly triumph, and somber mourning. One of the band’s strongest points of focus is a keen ear for infiltrating catchy, reverberating melodies amidst the chaos they generate. It’s almost as if these melodies, sometimes keyboard- and choral-supported, exist in a different plane while the rest of the song continues at full gait. It’s hard to describe, but I’ve noticed more and more bands, including groups like Artificial Brain and Exhausted Prayer, doing this, and I love it. It’s a way to infuse just a tad of catchiness in otherwise dark, pummeling music, infecting it with memorable qualities that keep you coming back.
While technical death metal can often get a warranted bad rap for taking a relentless approach that doesn’t stick with you, Sarpanitum are a very riff-heavy group who keep things grounded, even as they’re flying past you ruthlessly. In seemingly every song, they always make room for hooks and memorable, haunting guitar melodies.
Listening to Blessed Be My Brothers is akin to being launched into a battlefield; you aren’t equipped for what lies ahead, but once your adrenaline starts pumping, there’s no backing down until you’re dead or it’s finished. The finer details embed themselves over and over, creating an experience that finds enlightenment in chaos, and beauty in horror. Blessed Be My Brothers is a beatdown with a hidden agenda, and the catchiness that lies within is the real prize.
Sarpanitum’s Facebook page is here. A full stream of the album premiered at this location…
…and it’s now available for listening and download at Bandcamp: