Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sacristy - Masters Of Baphometic Devastation

Last year at Signature Riff's Festival of the Unknown, Sacristy happened to be one of the anonymous bands on display. I grabbed a copy of their 2007 album, Masters of Baphometic Devastation while there. The band was enjoyable live. I was curious to see how they managed on a permanent form of media. Perhaps expectedly, the album's highlights are the moments when Sacristy happens to veer away from the generic blast n' thrash so many of this area's black metal bands fall in allegiance with. Generic riffs adorn every track here and while the performances of Natazrahn, Niddhogg and Eschaton are promising, the complete picture is effectively drawn with hazy pastels, providing little detail of note. The songs could be interchangeable with a number of other black metal projects and while Masters... isn't anything worth carrying to the gallows, it's also not going to spread like fire in a field. As if on cue, I'll mention the artwork used is that of Gustav Doré; you know what you're getting into.

Sacristy happens to open their album in the same way as so many other black metal releases, with a grandiose orchestration. Whatever. The opening moments of the first track though are really the highlights of the entire album. "I.N.R.I - Redesecrator" starts with a really memorable and wicked guitar melody before falling victim to a mediocre bridge riff. At times across the album, I am reminded of Aeternus' usage of melody though nowhere close to the cleverness or epicness of the Norwegians. Natazrahn's vocals are also very well executed on the album and he exposes the lyrics of the band - lyrics focusing on a hatred of all religion (did I forget to mention Sacristy isn't the most original band) - in a menacing fashion. The rest of the track switches between slower marching beats and fast blasting sections, a nice dichotomy however with little grasp of flow. Keys add a tertiary texture to the recording but do little else. The song really starts to go nowhere around the  four or five minute mark but it goes on for a full ten minutes.

The rest of the album is pretty much the same with the obligatory seventh track intermission, this one a piano piece courtesy of Natazrahn. It sets up the eighth track nicely. While the heart of the album was particularly captivating from a hypnosis-out-of-ambivalence standpoint, the piano break worked to separate "Symbol Of The Ancients" from the rest of the album. It's a much more focused track than the rest I feel and utilizes the band's strengths excellently. It's patient, instead of being all over the place compositionally. The atmospherics break through here as well, aided by the keyboards and the mixing of the track. Vocals seem to be set back slightly, and with a short ambient break to vary the song's textures, it's not boring in the slightest. Still a stereotypical black metal track, but better done. Melody is highlighted here also with a haunting up heartfelt progression. The last minute of the song the band devolves into an unnecessary faster section which doesn't fit with the rest of the track's aesthetic.

The rhythm section of Niddhogg on bass and Eschaton on drums is a strong point on this album but do little to separate themselves. There are a lot of places where Niddhogg could break away from the song and create some melodic depth but I don't hear that much on the album, he follows closely with the guitar track. Eschaton is strong across the entire album, some flaws are noticeable such as in the beginning of the last track, "Triumph of the Forlorn," where he falls out of time for a moment, but he mostly provides capable percussion backing to the tracks. The beats are all pretty standard and heard before elsewhere but it's become so hard for drummers to do much outside the box in the genre now. Overall, a couple of decent tracks coupled with nice packaging do little to make me believe that black metal fanatics out there wouldn't want this in their collection. It wouldn't really change the genetic make-up of someone's listening though.

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