|5 (1 votes):|
Black metal’s greatest cultural contribution is the sheer range and depth of styles it is constantly churning out for its listening audience. This prolific outpouring of content is both a blessing and a curse, however. Obviously, the continuous evolution and growth of the genre engenders it with longevity, so the fans and artists are gifted with new music and fresh creative outputs respectively. Sadly, the flip side of this is that amidst all this there will inevitably be releases that don’t appeal to everyone – and Sicarius’ latest album, their second full-length, God of Dead Roots, suffers from exactly this.
All the ingredients are in place – fast, technical war-themed black metal delivered with passion and frenzy – but something just doesn’t click for me. Perhaps it’s the constant influx of new music I deal with as a reviewer that prevents me from fully engaging with the album, perhaps it just isn’t as good as I hoped, but either way, God of Dead Roots fails to leave a lasting impression. The last time I experienced this as poignantly was in the late 1990s: Cradle of Filth had completely rewritten what black metal meant to me personally in the form of their The Principle of Evil Made Flesh record, followed by their complete revision of what black metal could mean to the entire metal landscape with their symphonic, gothic masterpiece, Dusk and Her Embrace… but then I made the mistake of comparing them to Dimmu Borgir’s debut, For all Tid, and suddenly the over-the-top production, melodramatic orchestrations and vocal histrionics of CoF no longer made sense or even came across as an authentic expression of the genre, forever spoiling the British powerhouse for me. Sicarius, unfortunately, echo this in so many ways – especially the vocals, which come across as angst-y rather than menacing – and in so doing, generate a negative resonance which makes it practically impossible for me to enjoy the record.
Technically speaking, I do appreciate Sicarius’ craft – especially the drumming, which is razor-sharp and unapologetic from start to finish – but the overriding impression is one of disinterest. God of Dead Roots reads more like a very well-executed imitation of a black metal record in the vein of Marduk or Endstille than as a sincere expression of devotion to the overwhelming darkness and despair black metal should embody.
The best offering on the album, “A Practiced Hand”, is, oddly enough, the least black metal in character: the guitar work is warmer and rounder, speaking more of death than black sensibilities going into its composition. By way of contrast, the slower, more measured pace of “Nekromanteia” plods along, feeling forced and aimless – despite its more successful use of typically ‘black’ tropes like dissonance and ferocity.
God of Dead Roots is not a bad record, just not one that leaves a lasting impression on me. In comparison, the recent Suns of Perdition I: War, Horrid War by Panzerfaust, is a far more believable, far more memorable interpretation of the war-themed black metal genre. Sicarius may have the technical skills, but their relatively short career (just over five years) does not speak well to their maturity within black metal.
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