Sacriphyx – The Western Front (2013)

sacriphyx-the-western-front-cd

Article by Lance Viggiano.

Sacriphyx present a bog standard take on Hellenic black metal through the rollicking pulse native to Australia. The strength of the Greek strategy is in its ability to capture a variety of moods leading to a diverse heavy metal experience. The Western Front is a discontinuous concept album based upon World War I wherein its songs do not function as parts of whole; rather, they are self-contained units acting with autonomy in pursuit of the greater conceptual goal that is realized only through individual skirmishes. These compositional deployments reinforce stylistic choices by maximizing an array of emotive impact while minimizing any diminished efficacy of individual motifs as their power is not derived from their position in a greater narrative arc from song to song. Despite proficient execution, Sacriphyx fail to build upon the Mediterranean tactic in any meaningful sense and thus the movements of its elements will be predictable to those familiar.

The Western Front’s lone source of creativity and originality lie with its portrayal of the lyrical subject. It portrays the dehumanizing effect of mechanized warfare on the human psyche rather than presenting war in a literalist sense through trenches, gunfire, and paeans to victory. Sighs of melancholic PTSD are breathed alongside existential nihilism resultant from the wholesale slaughter of nearly an entire generation in an unprecedented display of efficiency – the mass industrialization of man’s commerce as defining his existence is followed by the mass production of his death. Like Greek epics, the album is fundamentally a tragedy wherein heroes in the midst of their power are slaughtered wholesale by deities of iron and steel whose veins pulse with the black blood of the earth. Victory in such an arena is not determined by human strength or bravery; it is determined by the combatants favor with these gods and so to those who return from such conflicts, a sense of true personal accomplish is absent leaving one to question to meaning of the struggle itself. That void of achievement lends to a somber character which becomes a sense of catharsis for the listener.

Sacriphyx fail to build upon vapid heavy-metal-isms despite these extra-musical ambitions: flaunting an ardent refusal to develop the nearer to black metal inheritance from bands such as Root, The Western Front is an earnest effort that simply falls short in base musical impact due entirely to over familiarity when not engaged in its more novel atmospheric modes. In other words the strictly metal sections are insufferably preservative and further demonstrate that metal today is more attractive for the idea it represents rather than as a source through which those interested in concrete music may develop rich, interesting patterns that are satisfying in the immediate and explained by the abstract.

This is the fate which befalls all intellectual and artistic endeavors: eventually, the gulf between the real world and the mental models invented to explain it becomes terminal. Albums such as The Western Front present conceptual content which is not latticed to its actual musical content – a theory that is completely divorced from lived experience. In a sense, The Western Front is the converse of a quest for meaning in the work of an artist; the listener embarks in a futile pursuit to determine how this given meaning could have derived from the actual work itself. The result is simply frustrating.

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22 thoughts on “Sacriphyx – The Western Front (2013)”

  1. Marc Defranco says:

    Naw this album is great

  2. Melinda Simmons says:

    I´m trying to get into Testament and I already have the first two albums but I would like to ask you guys if “Souls of Black” and “Practice what you Preach” are good speed metal albums?

    Thanks.

    1. Vigilance says:

      I cannot recommend testament to anyone. They are immediately satisfying as most speed metal is and therefore easy to mistake as good. A lot of their songs are random and completely derivative. With very few exceptions, speed metal is essentially puberty in the greater lifecycle of metal.

      1. Ludvig B.B (vOddy) says:

        But early Slayer is speed metal and still good

        1. LostInTheANUS says:

          Yeah, but Slayer is Slayer

          1. Rainer Weikusat says:

            Slayer is no Bay Area band (maybe geographically but not stylistically).

            1. LostInTheANUS says:

              Exactly.

        2. Vigilance says:

          The first slayer album is nearly NWOBH. The second has undercurrents of black and death metal. The third maybe, definitely not the fourth.

          1. Reign in Blood is Hell Awaits stripped down to hardcore for a mass audience excepting “Angel of Death” and “Raining Blood”.

            1. Vigilance says:

              I agree.

          2. ignorantkid says:

            in fact, i think the fourth is the most mature and representative works of SLAYER, although Hell Awaits is most influential

      2. Rainer Weikusat says:

        The Bay Area bands are essentially the puppets in »Master of Puppets«, repeat-offender would-be Metallica clones, immediately satisfying because the immediate satisfaction coming from having done The Right Thing[tm] after switching a CD player to ‘off’ only. Why not try some much nicer speed metal instead,

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5PDr8lstKE
        (I used to own the debut and like it)

        or a newer thrash metal band?

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=db47yvnvJwc

        I’d probably end up liking this but I’ve placed a personal embargo on this kind of music after being on a Kreator concert some years ago. When the band started playing, the guy next to me punched me in the face for no particular reason. As I didn’t drop to the floor immediately but smiled at him, he punched me again, with the same, apparently unsatisfactory result. He then when to seek a greener pasture elsewhere. I valiantly stood my ground throughout the concert as there was little else I could do but got knocked around quite a bit.

        I don’t care to repeat the experience despite it provided me with a nice opportunity to shout ‘Marc Bolan!’ at Mille Petrozza a couple of times as he safely towered above the mass brawl on stage.

      3. canadaspaceman says:

        Totally loved the Legacy 1986 demo with Zetro singing, so was kind of disappointed with Testament’s debut, but eventually did like the band.
        First 4 or 5 Testament albums are ok… catchy songs, but they are are “lite”. Kind of heavy, but not as heavy as it should have been.

        I probably played them all a few months ago after many years, but I am always reminded of something when it is put up against what preceded those records – Metallica, Megadeth, Exodus …
        “Where’d ya learn them pussy chords? Music school?” – Willie Brown from the movie Crossroads (1986)

      4. Rainer Weikusat says:

        Something I meant to ask for a while: What precisely is a »random« song supposed to be? Technically, unless someone was literally using random selection to generate chord progressions, such a thing cannot exist.

        1. Vigilance says:

          I use it when I detect a lack of continuity.

        2. Johan P says:

          Maybe random in the sense of being arbitrary? A song that lacks direction.

          1. Ludvig B.B (vOddy) says:

            It’s good to see that you are still here. Do stick around, you’re pleasant.

        3. Ludvig B.B (vOddy) says:

          It’s when the next part of the tune is what ever the composer came up with, not what would fit.

          1. It’s when the next part of the tune is what ever the composer came up with, not what would fit.

            Good definition. The parts of the tune do not form a narrative, but instead are “random” in the method of their choosing.

            1. Rainer Weikusat says:

              Fits roughly in here: I’ve read the Necrophagist section of http://www.deathmetal.org/article/metal-bands-to-love-to-hate/ with some interest (and it even prompted me to go on a short detour about mechanical construction of melodies) however, I can recognize this as bullshit without any theory simply because it is bullshit: It keeps jumping into the forgeground and retracting backwards over and over again without ever developing into something, a repeated stimulus existing solely because of itself.

              1. I can recognize this as bullshit without any theory simply because it is bullshit…a repeated stimulus existing solely because of itself.

                Good definition and good point. A nose to sniff out disorder or repetition is all that is needed.

  3. ignorantkid says:

    guerrilla metal? this is interesting and it’s boring too hahah

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