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.