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Sacramentum - Thy Black Destiny
Review: Sensing the futility of maintaining aesthetic identity as a black metal band, Sacramentum have added a musical and yet muscular speed metal to their mix of heavy metal in the Iron Maiden style and progressive black metal, letting the voices of morbid assault ring out over urgent riffs and racing drums. The result is a fusion of musics that embodies what metal has always held as emotional values, drawing a continuity through the experience in the same way that "In the Heart of Winter" by Immortal points to their earlier "Battles in the North."
Songs follow standard song patterns wrapped around whatever device centralizes the piece, and depending on the dynamic demands of that advice borrow mechanism from various parts of the metal tradition. Most verse riffs are classic heavy metal with the muffled strumming and gallop rhythm of speed metal, but over choruses and interludes Sacramentum infuse the melodic decompression and exuberance of structural inventiveness, hailing back to their majestic "Far Away From the Sun." Each rhythm folds carefully into an interlocking structure of cadences that allows this band to present their trademark vocals reciting verse of both violence and stagnation.
The heft of interconnected vocals and adeptly convoluted riffing presents a series of spaces in which vocals match harmony within riff construction and thus help forming a change in scenery and resonance. Cleft phrases and neatly tucked melodic couplings sustain the interiors of songs carrying a weight of transitional phrasing and extensive solos which borrow from neoclassical traditions in a blues context. A series of rumbling rhythm riffs will emerge into the introduction for a figure integrating essential harmonic devices within the scale to the rhythm at which it is presented, a motif which will remain untouched through the next three stanzas despite the commentary of paired riff and transitional fragment figures. Abruptly, in the middle of a change, its momentum is seized by a quick touch of harmonic series and then a change to a conduit phrase which in pace and shape of melodic motion emphasizes the vast and powerful, before a conveyance through verse to transition which introduces the final pattern in which instrumental layers begin to correspond and synchronize for finality.
While this work drops out of any specific genre to become the dreaded Swedish melodic metal, its essential values of extremity and beauty are still expressed, although in something closer to what most listeners can handle than the glorious excesses of emotion and technicality that were past albums. Still superb musicians, these sonic warriors continue to carve an enigmatic path through the remnants of epic metal.