Wednesday, December 8, 2010


By the numbers black metal from a Horna offshoot, so you pretty much know what you're in store for here. Horna kinda bores the hell out of me, even though i own a few of their records-at their best they're imbued with an astounding primitivism and violence, at their worst a bland and boring chromaticism-but i've followed Sargeist since their start and watched them progress ever so slightly from album to album. "Satanic Black Devotion" incorporated the absolute worst elements of Horna and bullied them into a pointlessly caustic and lo-fi black metal shitfest that was neither rocking nor imposing despite its best efforts to seem so. Since then Sargeist have veered away from the atavistic regressive template a little bit with each new outing, culminating in what is easily their best, most satisfying and well-played album (like so many "side project" black metal bands, Sargeist's first efforts were terrribly orchestrated affairs) "Let the Devil In." Right away Sargeist blasts out on fire at breakneck pace, ripping in to the first of ten hymns singing the praises of devotion to the dark lord, a fury of fuzzed guitars, simple and icy freezing melodies and hardcore style drumming that rarely lets up across the album's one hour run time. Upon first hearing it you're immediately sucked in to the headbanging ferocity of it all, and i marvelled at how they kept it up song after song. For about 20 minutes this album is the greatest fucking thing ever, and then it begins to slag as you have to actually listen to song after song of black metal stagnancy. I like simple, repetitive shit-i fucking love it-but something about "Let the Devil In" grows wearying after four songs or so. It isn't hypnotic in the slightest; rather it's just one song after another. Everything bleeds together and it all ends up sounding the same. Sargeist are a project that are much better suited to the seven inch and split album format, where their music can be digested in small doses, thereby increasing its efficacy simply by giving the listener just enough. Anything else from this project just ends up grinding me down.
There are positives, though. The sound of the album is outstanding. It's raw and upfront and immediate. Sargeist aren't fucking around this time and for a little while you're going to believe that this is a band capable of walking all over you and turning you into pulverized bloody spittle ground beneath a heavy leather boot. The melodies here are ultra-anthemic and undeniably great. I've heard them all before in many other black metal records but it doesn't diminish their chilling, thrashing, fists-to-the-air effect in the slightest. If riff-recycling were grounds for rendering black metal records inconsequential then the genre as a whole would have died out 15 years ago. This is old school stuff, taking equally as much from Disrupt as it does Darkthrone. Sargeist are well-steeped in black metal traditionalism and they deploy that knowledge in the greatest possible way-fast, frigid, venomous numbers with spitting, bubbling vocals encased in a sick froth of disgust. If the album were shorter, say six songs rather than ten, i think i'd rate it a lot higher. As is the record's indulgent bloat becomes exhausting. "Let the Devil In" is solid enough but with proper editing it could have been a vicious piece of high speed hatred.

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