Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Sarpanitum (U.K.): Blessed Be My Brothers … (Willowtip Records)
(by MMB)
When I first heard this album my interest was peaked by the obvious high quality of the metal. It struck me as a bit special in metal, which made me take a more serious attitude towards the album. Speaking truthfully, this is the album that I have heard the most in 2015.
In part, Sarpanitum, like most metal bands, faces a certain range of problems. One of the most difficult things to do in metal is to stand out because, on one hand, the genre is so old (with origins that reach back to the late 1960s), and on the other, the metal industry (e.g., listeners, musicians, press) are musically conservative: the biggest metal bands are literally senior citizens who are not just very wealthy but multimillionaires. This makes it more problematic for younger generations to be seen and heard. If the grandpa bands refuse to leave the stage, and the press gives priority to the corporate-millionaire bands, the younger bands have to wait around for a long time, playing to an audience of seven drunk people at a bar on Monday nights. Thus, it is difficult to find quality under circumstances that discourage quality.
Yet, despite all these problems in metal music, there are lesser-known bands that want to create something exciting and a bit unique, like Sarpanitum, which appears to be musicians focused on quality, above all. You could describe Sarpanitum in a variety of ways, yet none of those descriptions will work well: Sarpanitum plays a type of metal that immediately gives the sensation of painstakingly crafted songs, with a standard set straight on the high quality of Nile, Immolation, Death, Morbid Angel: generally blasting speeds, Nile/Immolation-like heaviness topped with melody—but not sugar/cheap melodies, more like a melancholic/hypnosis melodies—that perhaps could come from Symbolic-era Death, all done with a major symphonic tapestry, perhaps coming from an Emperor/Dimmu Borgir-style of foundations towards the background of the songs.
You will notice that people writing or talking about Sarpanitum describe the band in terms of death metal, which is normal, but then that creates the impression that this music would appeal to death metal audiences, maybe exclusively. However, Sarpanitum is not concerned with a single-genre sound, in a narrow sense, as we shall see.
What is the difference, then? The difference is the idea that (1) it is not enough to play fast (which Sarpanitum certainly does) and expect that that will be all that you need to make a lasting impression; (2) Sarpanitum is not satisfied with the low standards in death metal; you just can’t chug along and expect to call it a “song.”; (3) Sarpanitum has spent lots of time thinking about the guitar melodies, how to make a song memorable, but not make it some cliché, happy melody.
It is not easy doing these things, which is why Sarpanitum sounds superior. More is more, better is better, talent is better, skill is better, maturity is better. You will know it when you hear it.
One issue that might discourage some possible listeners is the low-growling vocals. Sarpanitum faces a dilemma: all of the elements of the music are very developed, and only the vocals sound underdeveloped in comparison to the instrumentation and songwriting. The problem for the band is to find the corresponding style of vocals, and whichever style they do, they will not please everyone, of course. That being said, it should be noted that a band like Nile has shown the possibilities for creating a variety of vocals, within the framework of extreme vocals, as you can find on “Black Seeds of Vengeance,” for instance. It is just a matter of putting ideas to work towards finding other ways for extreme/heavy vocals to come to life.
At any rate, like I mentioned earlier, this is the album that I have heard the most during 2015. There is much, much for the discerning listener to absorb here. Of course, this is highly recommended to anyone that likes serious, mature, talented extreme metal. Even if you prefer traditional metal, I would say, give this album a listen and see if your ears perhaps do hear the difference of Sarpanitum. The melodies should go a long way towards helping you understand the music. I believe that this is a special album. Will you agree?
Sarpanitum - I Defy For I Am Free
Sarpanitum-Thy Sermon Lies Forever Tarnished

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