Sarpanitum examine religion’s influence on violence through ages on ‘Blessed Be My Brothers’

Sarpanitum coverThe other day, Fox News talking numbskull Eric Bolling claimed that no one ever died as a result of religion outside of those who do violence in the name of Islam. While I’m sure every dipshit watching at home probably was shaking his or her head in agreement like media zombies that has to be one of the most laughable, irresponsible things ever uttered on that forsaken channel. And that’s saying something.

Bolling either failed history classes or has an agenda (oh! or both!), because that’s preposterous. People have been waging holy wars for centuries, and the body count for those who have been a victim of many religions on the planet is innumerable. This is not to mention cases of physical and emotional abuse that also can result. It’s one of the great reasons people fight in the first place, and it’s the subject matter that UK blackened death unit Sarpanitum cover on their stunning new record “Blessed Be My Brothers.” This album sounds expressive and explosive on the first listen alone. But keep going back, and you’ll find yourself peeling back layers of sound, being entranced by their melodies, and realizing that their brutality is served with intellectual grace and precision so many bands lack. Sarpanitum already had a highly regarded reputation among underground fans before this album, mostly due to the strength of their eight-years-old debut effort “Despoilment of Origin,” and this should only increase the fervor. It’s that good, man.

This infernally influenced trio has members that logged miles with other notable acts such as Mithras, Balor, Tenebrous Aeon, Lantlos, and Contrarion, and the guys responsible for this massive sound—guitarist/vocalist Tom Innocenti, guitarist Tom Hyde, drummer Leon Macey—continually blow minds on this 10-track effort. Yeah, it’s grisly and thundering for sure, but there is great, dynamic guitar work that hints at power and classic metal influences, which gives these cuts that added oomph to really get your blood flowing. If you’re a devout fan of bands such as Gorguts, early Nile, and pre-electronic disaster Morbid Angel, you’re bound to be captivated by this sucker.

Opener “Komenos” has a mystical, mysterious feel, as the instrumental cut loops through keyboard haze, a pace that opens up a bit and lets some fire in, and a proggy essence that carries through to other parts of the album. Then it’s into “By Virtuous Reclamation” that tears open gloriously, with guitars blazing a wide path, savage, guttural growls sounding forceful and focused, and righteous leads that carry you through the adventure. This song is tremendous and totally quakes the earth’s crust. “Truth” hammers away, giving off the feel of ancient evil and awful deeds, with the band whipping into a cyclone of chaos. Guitars churn over top, with the soloing breaking out and blinding, leaving everything pulsating in a surge of power. “Glorification Upon the Powdered Bones of the Su” also starts with a smashing, crashing assault that also can leave your head spinning. The growls sound like they’re tearing free from an earthen tomb, while the rest of the band colors in with dripping keyboards, punishing drum work, and the sense of total obliteration. “Immortalised as Golden Spires” then offers a bit of a cool breeze, as the interlude piece fills the room with keyboard gaze, angelic noise, and the sense of bodily detachment.

“Thy Sermon Lies Forever Tarnished” begins with guitars causing a whirlwind effect, with a furious assault breaking out and lead guitar lines shining. The growls are gruff as expected, with some of the melodies sounding loopy, and the track ending on a smothering note. “I Defy for I Am Free” has a smashing start, but then it takes a turn toward doomier territory that is dark and smoky. The track then begins to grind harder, with melodic guitar runs creating havoc along with the churning vocals, and the band then takes you into a mind-altering explosion that is rich with creativity. “Homeland” is the third and final instrumental, sounding tribal and gothy, as wordless melodies add texture. “Malek Al-Inkitar” takes its name from King Richard I of England, a major force in the Crusades (the very topic that made Bolling lose his mind on TV). The track tears open with deep growls, speedy guitar work, and menacing melodies, with the lead guitar charging its way over the top. The track is another spot where the band delves as close to epic metal as black and death, and the punishment continues until the guys finally let the force bleed out. The closing title cut is another dose of devastation, with the guitar work boiling and cascading downward like hot wax, the vocals sounding infernal and chaotic, and the song taking on a gothy finish that lets the cut disappear into the fog.

The wait for Sarpanitum’s return was well worth it, as “Blessed By My Brothers” is a cataclysmic, gigantic sounding record that absolutely breathes fire. This is a band that is technically gifted for sure, but they never get caught up in their skills and instead use them to make dramatic, violent gold. This is one of death metal’s early triumphs in 2015, and it might take you the rest of the year to uncover every hidden mystery that lurks within this record.

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