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