AOTW: Sargeist – Let The Devil In (2010)

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Sargeist is a Black Metal band from Finland, one of Shatraug’s many projects and possibly the best one of the bunch. This is one of the few bands that keeps carrying the Black Metal torch after most of the greats fizzled out by mid to late 90s.

The band has made a name for itself with the previous two full-length albums. Based on the songs I heard on Satanic Black Devotion and Funeral Curses compilation album, the band’s typical approach to song writing in the early days was to start at a fast past pace and then slow down and play most of the song at that speed. These slow, mid-paced, parts is where the band really shines, in my opinion. The eerie riffs, coupled with ugly, raw production created a pitch-dark atmosphere on the early records.

The band changed things around on their 2010 effort: Let The Devil In. All the tracks, except one, are played at a blistering pace, with brief, still very excellent, slower moments to get a few gasps of air. The production is much improved on this album, with drums buried deeply in the mix – appropriate for the faster pace, so that the blast beats don’t overpower the great guitar riffs. Along with a change of pace, the riffs have become a lot more melodic. The result is the music has become a bit more accessible compared to the previous albums, although that doesn’t seem to have been the band’s intention. One thing to consider is Hoath Torog’s vocals – his voice is so gurgly that it seems his throat is filled with blood when he is chanting out the Satanic verses.

Possibly, the reason behind the change in sound is simply the desire to establish a different mood on this album. Black Metal records are often associated with Winter, frozen landscapes, and total darkness. When listening to these songs, I felt as if I was walking through a forest on a sunny Autumn afternoon. The tree leaves are lit up by the golden rays of the low hanging sun, the air is cool, but not yet cold and each step is accompanied by the peaceful rustling of leaves on the ground. I could spend an eternity in such wandering. Yet all thing come to an end and the beautiful afternoon is followed by a frost-bitten night and the colours of Autumn are eventually displaced by the bleakness of Winter. I can already feel Winter’s breath on my cheeks as the Northern wind blows by and my nostrils pick up a scent of burning firewood in cold air – a certain sign that Summer is long gone and Nature is readying for a long peaceful rest. I think this kind of atmosphere certainly has a place in Black Metal as long as it is genuine and doesn’t get cheesy. 

The first time I heard this album was some time in August of 2016 and I already knew it was a gem, but I couldn’t fully immerse in the atmosphere of the album due to the awful heat of the past Summer. I went back to the album two months later and now I can say with certainty that this is one of the best Black Metal albums I’ve heard. It showcases an interesting approach to song writing, where the guitars are melodic, almost upbeat in certain moments, yet the overall sound is raw and the mood is melancholic. In fact, I’ve decided to write this Album of the Week blog entry out of order – chronologically there were a dozen other albums that I heard before this – but the timing was just so good that I had to put my thoughts in writing now. I even had a stroke of luck and found a used copy of this CD at a local record store – sometimes things just work out that way.

It is very hard to choose any songs that stand out on this album as they are all great. If I absolutely had to, I would go with Discovering the Enshrouded Eye and As Darkness Tears the World Apart.

People swarm in their despair
Bloody limbs cut everywhere
Darkness tears with greedy claws
As nigh their final hour draws

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AOTW: Mihai Edrisch – Un Jour Sans Lendemain (2005)

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Mihai Edrisch is a Screamo band from France, Un Jour Sans Lendemain being the group’s second and last album, before they decided to split up in 2006. Two of the band’s members moved on to play in Celeste, which is the project I’ve been following long before Mihai Edrisch crossed my radar. There are clear parallels between Un Jour Sans Lendemain and Pessimiste(s) released by Celeste in 2006 so it’s no surprise that I’m a big admirer of both.

I have to say that if there was such an option, I would take the Un Jour Sans Lendemain CD to the International Bureau of Weights and Measures to become the standard of Screamo. Other than the pointless Intro and Outro, every song on this album is pure genius. The production is great: drums are very lively an the guitar sound is, at times, some of the most unique I’ve heard. The band did not set a foot wrong on this record.

The music often switches abruptly between intense bursts with chaotic drumming, frantic vocals and some of the most amazing riffs you’ll ever hear and slow dark passages with tremolo guitars in the vein of Celeste’s Nihiliste(s) and dreamy interludes, allowing the listener to catch a breath. The emotions of sadness and despair permeate this album from start to finish. All the lyrics are in French, but even without understanding the words, the listener can infer quite a bit from the expressiveness of the music.

It is nearly impossible to pick a track that stands out as all of the songs are of approximately the same high quality. Most of the slower songs are placed at the end of the album; the dark atmosphere they create is probably even more draining than the intense energy of the faster tracks. At just under 40 minutes, this is a fairly lengthy Screamo record and, as such, I often end up feeling ‘saturated’ after listening to the album from start to finish.

If you have even the slightest interest in Screamo, it is imperative that you give this album a listen.

AOTW: Lentic Waters – The Path (2015)

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Lentic Waters is a Screamo band from Germany that started out some time in 2010 and have released a few solid records to date. Their most recent work The Path caught my attention in the Fall of 2015 and for good reason – it has everything one would expect from a great Screamo album. There is a lot of feeling present in the music and the vocals, but the general atmosphere is a bit darker than the genre would generally dictate. The production is solid, without sounding plastic and sucking the life out of the music.

The drums set a chaotic rhythm to the music, typical for this genre and the guitar riffs are quite expressive and also very fresh. The guitar sound is at times more metallic than one would typically hear on a Screamo album, somewhat reminiscent of Angstzustand’s Ohne Dich Sind Wir Allein. There are also a few nice Post Rock passages to bring the intensity down a bit, indicating that Envy was probably a point of reference for these guys.

I find that the songs get better as the album progresses. The two opening tracks, while good, do not present anything special and feel a bit reserved, as if the bend doesn’t want to step outside some invisible boundary. Another Sleepless Night of Despair is a spark that really ignites the album, this is where the listener starts feeling an emotional connection with the music.

finally want to grasp the opportunity
tired of all the postponing
that awful feeling of insecurity
another sleepless night of despair

The riff that kicks in around the 35-second mark is probably the best on the entire record. The songs that follow showcase the band’s brilliant musicianship and song writing. This album can be played on repeat many times in a row without getting boring. The neat thing about this release is the songs transition into one another, so there is nice flow to the music if the record is played all at once.

This album is a strong effort from a very talented band. One can only hope these guys will continue in this vein and maintain their high level of creativity.