Review: Sarpanitum – Blessed Be My Brothers
No, don’t bother. Closing your eyes is futile. The thin veil of your eyelids is a useless measure against the impossible light that will envelop you. The blinding, merciless light has no source, it simply is. Bear witness to the swirls of violet, chartreuse, and gold dancing madly within the electromagnetic monolith transfixing your gaze upon itself. Bask in sublime agony as your eyes succumb to the incalescence and sublimate into the white-hot aether surrounding you. Keep this image in your mind as the rest of your body also fades into the whiteness, embracing the heat, embracing the light, and ceasing to distance its individual molecules from the infinite photons that now ravage your vaporous corpus.
…Or just listen to Sarpanitum‘s new record Blessed Be My Brothers (Willowtip Records), which as far as I can tell is effectively the same experience. If you only like your death metal grim and bleak, look elsewhere. Blessed is of course brutal, but also colorful, psychedelic, and fiercely beautiful.
A huge amount of the record’s charm is the rich, reverb-soaked guitar tone that lends smoothness to deep tremolo riffs and makes high-pitched technical leads sound full-bodied and mighty. Lush keyboards round out the tonal spectrum to help the climactic moments feel unworldly massive. All of this lofty sound is tethered to Earth by the mercifully un-quantized drums that are clearly played by an actual, living human who can genuinely shred without the aid of studio magic. These qualities all make Blessed sound to me a bit like if Fleshgod Apocolypse was more tastefully theatrical, rather than an absurdist half- joke band.
After listening to this record for the first time, I found myself going back to listen to my favorite parts even more often than I normally would because I was physically incapable of humming the speeedy, chaotic guitar riffs I found so catchy. The idea of the riffs were more firmly implanted in my memory than the actual notes, which is pretty dang cool.
Shit gets real at 1:27 on this track.
The total lack of trve kult grimness on a record this intense is refreshing, and I believe it helps give Sarpanitum a unique voice when addressing the familiar theme of organized religion. Most death metal postures as the Devil, or his acolytes, or in some way as a warrior against God. In contrast, the overwhelming beauty and power of Sarpanitum actually evokes the church itself. Of course these words are evil, but the evil is spoken from the mouth of holy men who abuse their power and influence to belittle and control their adherents. Smart move, Sarpanitum.
Listen to this shit if you know what’s good for you. Willowtip Records doesn’t fuck around; they also signed Toilet favorites Baring Teeth, for fuck’s sake. Visit Sarpanitum’s Bandcamp page here and/or Willowtip’s official website here to buy some music and swag.