(This is TheMadIsraeli‘s review of the third album by the Dutch death metal band Sepiroth, which was released earlier this month via the Petrichor label.)
I’ve had a tough time finding death metal that appeals to me these days. I’ve found it so difficult to locate anything that isn’t drowned in gimmicks of rudimentary slam or isn’t consumed with trying to write shit that would’ve felt dated in 1995. I may take some heat for this, but at least from my perspective it feels like right now this is the main sub-genre of extreme metal that’s really lagging behind in 2021, and it’s REALLY lagging behind.
Death metal requires riffs, actual composition, and song-writing dynamics to work well. Especially when its vocal approach is typically not diverse, the music consequently has to do a lot around it to avoid monotony.
Well, I present to you today a death metal band that aren’t living in ’95, don’t waste your time with vapid slam and brutal death metal’s purposefully shit production, and actually sound like they’ve kept up with the genre past the year 2000.
Sepiroth have been around for awhile and I feel rather ignorant that I haven’t heard from them, but maybe I shouldn’t. Despite being around since 2007, they’ve put out albums at a pretty sluggish pace with only three full-lengths in a twelve-year span. I think this is what often leads to seemingly great bands going under the radar, because momentum is a huge deal in the music industry. You’d be surprised what that consistent “album every two years” schedule does for a band’s PR, or maybe you wouldn’t.
But regardless of the pace of their output, Sepiroth have released the best death metal album I’ve heard this year thus far, aside from Pestilence’s Exitivm. Condemned To Suffer mixes Suffocation’s deliberate, well-paced technicality and song-writing dynamics, the ignorant grooves of Skinless, the deathgrind-meets-D-beat of the entirety of 2000‘s-era Napalm Death, and a little bit of that refined progressive edge of Anata.
In other words, there is a LOT going on here on this album and it really shows. There’s not a single recycled idea or even phenotype of a recycled idea on this album. When you enhance all this with an excellent mix that has a lot of clarity to it while being punchy and dank in a very Suffocation-esque kind of a way, there are a lot of ways in which Condemned To Suffer is just superior to most death metal this year.
I also want to give my compliments to vocalist Nikko Munnik, who channels that Frank Mullen-esque swamp beast tonality in his vocals. While I highly enjoy flexible and diverse vocal performance, when someone has a really good guttural death growl that’s been finely honed, there’s nothing like it.
I don’t really think a further critical analysis of this album will be required from me, as I believe what Sepiroth produced on Condemned To Suffer speaks entirely for itself. This was a much-welcomed and joy-bringing surprise in a year that for me has been pretty underwhelming when it comes to death metal.