Sacrilege – Turn Back, Trilobite


During the 1980s, multiple metal movements existed in parallel. The genre birthed itself a decade before and almost immediately got merged with hard rock, only waking itself up with the NWOBHM in time to avoid total assimilation. In the next decade, it diversified.

Sacrilege emerged from the UK proto-crust scene and transitioned slowly into metal as most of these bands did when, musical basics familiar, they sought to use their new artistic powers for more precise communication. The band put out a trio of albums before lapsing in the early 1990s. Turn Back, Trilobite was the third of these and showed the band leaving its punk roots behind entirely to explore a doom metal style. This release prompts comparisons to Candlemass because in its pacing, use of percussion and even vocal melodies it evokes that long-standing doom band.

The notable differences here are that Sacrilege sometimes slides into ludicrous hard-rock riffing that immediately pushes it into the background, and that one of these guitarists clearly listens to quite a bit of Metallica Ride the Lightning which shows up in some of the muted-strum double downstroke work here as well as in the Hammett-inspired lead guitars which use falling scales to produce lengthy solos from relatively consistent structures. This effect works better with the shorter solos on Metallica but here often becomes too symmetrical and rambling, but otherwise, adds a greater efficiency to some of these songs.

People like this album, and it is hard not to, because it is ambitious. It touches on tropes from jazz, rock, folk and hard rock in addition to its basis in heavy metal, and by using doom metal pacing, allows itself more space over which to stretch out vocals and riffs, installing a greater range of rhythms. The problems with this approach are that in many ways the band were not ready for it. Too much of this album is comped in with 1970s hard rock riffs, the vocalist for all of her range tends toward very similar patterns (which fits with the Ozzy-Marcolin range of vocals), and too many of the rhythms and riff shapes are similar, causing navigational difficulties for the casual listener.

As a random find in a record store on a rainy Saturday, this album provides some good listening because its ambition creates a world our brains can explore despite its failings. Like most doom metal, Turn Back, Trilobite relies too much on predictable and repeated tropes for enjoyable regular listening. The greater emphasis on “emotion” in doom metal tends to mean a narrower range of mood, and as a result the album flows past like tapwater more than distinguishing itself with the cornucopia of tropes it applies. That and the obvious Metallica derivations paired up with mediocre riff patterns excluded this one from running for the big time and shortly afterward, the band members excluded themselves to do other things. With the right producer to enforce some editing and variety, this could have been a massive release.

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8 thoughts on “Sacrilege – Turn Back, Trilobite

  1. Shit 666 says:

    Behind The Realms of Sleep is better.

  2. Enceladus says:

    Something’s wrong with the sound in this video, it’s like listening through headphones from a distance. The CD rip I’ve got sounds much much better (softer). A refreshing listen nonetheless (refreshingly …metal). Whatever happened to this mindset? I’m sorry modern “metal” fans, this is not just nostalgia talking. An album like this that went pretty much unnoticed back then (when even reaching LP status was a bigger challenge than it is now) would make it to many best of the year lists if it was released today.

  3. Richard Head says:

    Trilobites are my favorite animal, they’re so damn cute. Someday I need to find a trilobite fossil in good shape for a reasonable price, but haven’t found one yet. The only modern animal that comes close is the horseshoe crab, which is equally adorable but not quite as cool. They are fun to play with though. Man I love trilobites though.

  4. Dr. Shivago says:

    Now that you’re reviewing speed metal albums, may I suggest a band named Silence with an album called Vision from 1990?

    1. Shit 666 says:

      Also the overrated stuff like the Gorement review. I believe Disembowelment should be analyzed. Sure, the ideas are interesting but the songs are basically simple grindcore with overextended ambient sections. You could copy and paste a lot of the criticisms from the Gorement review as well. Simple.

      1. Sure, the ideas are interesting but the songs are basically simple grindcore with overextended ambient sections.

        Good analysis. We always got flack for calling them grindcore and not doom metal.

        1. Richard Head says:

          Huh, both of those descriptors are weird. Always thought they just played death metal. The instrumentation, composition, and aesthetic all say death metal to me; what am I missing?

          Was listening to their full-length this week, have liked it a lot for a while now, but do realize that most songs could use some fat trimmed.

  5. mlotek says:

    “Turn Back, Trilobite” is ok, but I got bored of it after listening a few times.
    I think only doom metal fanatics would want it. Them and stoners that like lengthy songs.
    Sacrilege’s “Behind the Realms of Madness” will remain their best release for many of us.

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