SummaryPurity in Nocturnal Majesty
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On their first full length Sacramentum make an offering to the metal world in the form of melodic extreme metal somewhere between the sorrowful drama of early Swedish melodeath and the cold bare scenery of black metal. The music is eminently epic, gleaming with triumphant themes of poetic expressiveness and profound tragedy and adorned with profusely melodious constructions guiding the central solemn spirit of the songs towards culminating highs. There’s a distinct sentiment this album is of the night, like the atmospheric depiction of nocturnal purity, an instinctive awakening and excitement during the vacant late hours of a foggy dusk, yet brightened up by fleeting bio-luminescent creatures in the form of enchanting melodic flickering.
The production is deliberately roomy and vast to emphasize the atmospheric momentum of the music. There’s a sort of cavernous ambiance pervading the tracks, conferring them a feel both glacial and wintery, and warm with passion simultaneously. The blast beats and heavy tom rolls supply the motor and lead the ever-changing melodic guitar sections on this epic journey with consistency and vigor. A certain mystery exudes from the tracks as the song-writing consistently supplies jumps from one section to the next with a rekindling in drive after each part. As one part ends, there’s usually a renewed energy about the following and the band knows how to bounce back after the exhaustion of a riff with subtly clashing chord changes to transition to the ensuing developments.
The guitar work comprises the prototypical tremolo picking as the main weapon of choice, as well as the more composed linear individual-note lead lines over the instrumental parts, those being of a more progressive nature, that bring a harmonious yet still spirited break from the hectic riffing and blasts. Clean guitars make an appearance from time to time, and although always ephemeral allow a deeper level yet of calm and serenity amidst the aural hyperactivity, as a chance for the listener to reflect and better appreciate the ongoing solemness of the record. Moreover, the album doesn’t waste any time, each section revealing a new facet and the solos kept to a bare minimum – if even there at all, they’re mostly leads really. It feels like efficient music out on a quest; genuine art rather than a record worried about generic conventions and obligations.
The melodies are kept at a high standard and don’t ever significantly drop in level although some of course are more emotionally intense, memorable and vibrant than others. There are a few moments of utter bliss and one can only revel in the majesty depicted in those moments. The album feels deeply nostalgic and pure, despite the extreme metal wherewithal employed to craft this piece. Its natural essence is beautiful enough that it could easily be appreciated by non-metalheads if not perhaps for the black metal vocal grasps.
Interestingly one might reminisce about ‘Far Away from the Sun’ with memories of sheer ethereal grace, almost remembering the parts as being pure sorrowful melody and ambiance where blast beats and screaming are omitted from the picture or only vaguely in the background, in spite of it unmistakably being extreme metal. Proof enough this album manages to transcend its frame of melo-death/black and transport the listener into a dreamworld where nothing but the unique unadulterated essence of the songs remains.
Release date: May 15th, 1996
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