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Sarcoptes - Prayers To Oblivion review

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Band: Sarcoptes
Album: Prayers To Oblivion
Style: Black metal
Release date: February 2023

01. Trenches
02. Spanish Flu
03. Dead Silence
04. Tet
05. Massacre At My Lai

A 50-minute-long black metal album that tackles historical tragedies across five tracks, including three songs that each last for more than 13 minutes. Few bands could pull off such a daunting task. Let's see how Sarcoptes fare.

Creating musical pieces with large durations is always a gamble. After all, the longer the song, the easier it is to lose the audience's attention. There's the potential risk that the song falls victim to repetition and a sense of aimlessness. Luckily, US black metal duo Sean Zimmerman and Garrett Garvy are by no means inexperienced. Their 2016 debut full-length and 2020 EP served as practice runs to try their hands at crafting lengthy and awe-inspiring tracks. One can tell that they have succeeded in honing this skill with this 2023 release, Prayers To Oblivion. But how exactly do they accomplish this?

Well, one of Sarcoptes's secrets to success is their infusion of thrash metal into the atmoblack mix, reminiscent of bands like Absu and Immortal. Most of the album contains rampaging riffs and oppressive drumming, along with raspy vocals that remind me of Chuck Schuldiner's singing on Death's The Sound of Perseverance. To spice things up even more, Sarcoptes make good use of keyboards, mimicking symphonic compositions similar to Emperor's. Faster-paced, exciting thrash musicianship accompanied by grand, symphonic keyboard-playing keeps the listener engaged, removing almost any chance of zoning out of the atmosphere.

But, the first step in keeping the listener's attention is grabbing it in the first place. Sarcoptes achieve this through striking cover artwork (created by Adam Burke — the same artist who painted the masterpiece cover art for Vektor's Terminal Redux) and through a gripping opening track. We begin in the "Trenches" with sounds of pouring rain. Is that thunder? No, it's the noise of gunfire. We hear the quickened beating of a heart. A shrill whistle blows — and a whining guitar heralds the commencing of chaos! The song launches into lyrics of the gruesome trench battles in World War I…

"Dig the trenches
Dig your own graves!

… as the aggressive musicianship mimics the unrelenting assault of machine gun fire.

Every following track ventures chronologically in describing historical tragedies, from the Spanish Flu to the Vietnam War. The three 13+-minute-long songs are separated by two shorter tracks, enabling another way to keep variety in the songwriting. The middle three tracks all have intense riffing, speedy drumming, and shouting vocals, interlaced with more ambient moments. My only complaint is that even though Sarcoptes manage to create diversity in each song, the structure and elements don't greatly differ from one song to another. The only songs that significantly stand out for me are the first and last tracks due to their ominous opening instrumentation and epic conclusions. So, going forward, I'd recommend that the band aim to construct songs that each possess a unique flair in order to clearly distinguish one from the other.

Still, in the end, with dozens of different riffs, changes in pace, and melodic keyboard-playing to contrast the vicious aggression, this black metal band present us with an engaging 50 minutes of powerful metal musicianship — all possessed by a high-speed thrash spirit.

Written on 20.02.2023 by The sign of good music is the ability to both convey and trigger emotion.


Comments: 3   Visited by: 36 users
22.02.2023 - 09:45
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Well length can scare away I agree, song and album, because I have busy schedule at weekend, so time matters and we will see what I make out of this.
I stand whit Ukraine and Israel. They have right to defend own citizens.

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''
I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
25.02.2023 - 06:59

Personally I struggle with longer tracks because real life often puts me in a position in which I must pause the music -- and I absolutely hate pausing mid-song. This can make the listening experience frustrating, as opposed to that of albums with shorter tracks, in which it is more feasible to pause between songs.

As for the review though, good stuff. Thanks for including a comparison to Immortal and Absu, it helps me imagine what this more or less sounds like prior to listening. Funny how "At the Heart of Winter" had its 24th anniversary just some days ago.
So imminently visible - this cloaked innocent guilt
Sentenced to a lifetime, a second of structured chaos
Trampled by the ferocious, raging crowds of solitude
I'm the soil beneath me soaking up the sustenance of my own death.
04.03.2023 - 11:05
Rating: 8
A Nice Guy
Thanks for sharing this excellent review I've found a genuine hidden gem because of it
I don't mind long tracks, and here the long tracks are brilliant, especially the closer, and I too am getting Emperor vibes from the symphonic work.

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