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The world is about to end; no signs of redemption are in sight and mankind is doomed; at least, that comes to mind every time I spin Sadistik Exekution’s The Magus. Call it war metal, death metal, or black metal, but one thing remains clear; this wasn’t made for the faint hearted.
I’ll admit: in general, this style isn’t my thing and I can’t help but think that plenty of these albums that fall into this category of atmospheric brutality lack substance; meaning that they’re basically written by bands that fail to write songs that actually stick in your head. Here’s where The Magus is one of the exceptions to the rule for me. You don’t end up with a ride of non-stop skull-bashing of so-so riffs and drums that overshadow everything else. With riffs ranging from controlled thrashing to lightning-fast tremolo bits, raspy vocals that express deep hatred for mankind and a well-functional drum machine (not literally, but the guy surely sounds like one), The Magus has to be one of the most interesting extreme metal albums from the early 90’s that I can think. Not to mention that this was supposedly recorded in 1988 and written 1986.
The thing is; in an 80’s extreme metal context, The Magus makes even less sense than it does in an early 90’s context. While it never takes long before a pure thrash metal riff finds its way between the pissed-off vocals and captivating drums, the speedier parts are unlike anything I could think of from that time. Sure, bands like Sepultura and Vulcano were causing havoc at the other side of the world, yet Sadistik Exekution never makes me think of what those crazy Brazilians were doing at that time. There’s something personal about this album and even the most recognizable track that I could think of doesn’t make much sense, given the time this was apparently written; is the title track an early example of Morbid Angel-inspired death metal or had the band not even heard of Morbid Angel at this point? Hard to tell, really.
Trying to figure out who inspired who isn’t going to help anyone and certainly in this case, it’s probably best to enjoy Sadistik Exekution for what they brought to the table; death metal with a determined-to-destroy attitude. One moment it’s thrashing time, then the band speeds up and all hell breaks loose and generally, the songs consists of a predictable formula, yet two tracks clearly differentiate from the norm. As I had just mentioned, the title track makes me think of early Morbid Angel; it’s a relentless offering of atmospheric brutality; with verses rushing through the boundaries of hell, but I also love how you end up with some hummable and catchy riffs in between. “Agonizing the Dead” slows down to a haunting pace from time to time and proves that Sadistik Exekution weren’t just speed-obsessed freaks to begin with. The track doesn’t try to tear your soul apart with its vigor riffs from the start, but rather builds momentum through a variety of sub-sections. You’ve got some spooky synth-driven moments, cleverly thrash-inspired parts and of course, some maniacal outbursts; resulting into a marvelous epic with an apocalyptic feel to it.
The Magus clearly delivers an onslaught of twisted metal – absolutely, but it has its flaws. ‘Cautness Darling Blood’ gets a bit too messy for its own good and becomes much more fun once it operates in a thrash-styled manner, whereas the fast and furious verses go one ear in and one ear out but with. You’ll also notice that the production values vary from track to track and this one of the few examples where the guitars sound thinner than usual. It’s rather unfortunate, because the better-produced tracks feature a far more resonant and sharper tone. I also could have done without a four minute-long outro; it’s longer than some of the actual songs on the album to begin with… and I probably don’t need to explain why that doesn’t work, do I?
Again, most of its material sounds pretty wicked and that’s what mostly important. Regardless of my limited interest in this style to begin with, The Magus remains one of the few outstanding albums in this vein. Most of the songs keep me getting back for more… if that’s not something plenty of extreme metal bands could learn from, then I don’t know what is.
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