without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Every once in an era an album comes along that takes the unholy spirit of metal by the horns. Every once in a while a band comes along that makes the barbaric nature deep within all of us flow out with satanic pride. When you combine the two, you get Sargeists' "Let The Devil In".
I have been a fan of Sargeist for years, and I have never been let down by any of their releases. However, I was not expecting "Let The Devil In". From the very first track it invokes the darkest passion, and rage within. The album is blunt force black metal, with haunting melodies mixed into it. Hoath Torog (vocals) is in full blast on this record. His screams cut through with all the powers of hell. Shatraug (guitars) is in full riffing onslaught, and comes up with some of the sickest melodies. Seriously, if these riffs dont get stuck in your head, then you're already dead. Horns (drums) is on full speed, no holds barred, pounding blasphemy here. From, "thrashing" beats, to the heart stopping speed of his blast beats, I raise my horns to him.
Now, the bass guitar. This is something that shocked me due to the fact that bass guitar is on many occasions rather "lost" in black metal recordings. However, Vainaya (bass guitar) is in full range on this record, which is great, because you can hear what the guy can actually do. His riffing (or plucking rather) is right up with Shatraugs' speed riffing, which to me is pretty killer.
This brings me to the production value. I am indeed a HUGE fan of black metal, and even love the roughest of the rough when it comes to recordings. "Let The Devil In" is nothing shy of amazing due to the fact that it's still got the typical "Sargeist" rough quality, but, is produced well enough for you to take in every instrument. That is something that I feel is lacking in todays standard of what metal recordings should be.
Black metal is NOT dead to those of us who are TRUE. Do you want proof? Listen to "Let The Devil In". It will be all the proof you need.
With members of Horna and Behexen on board, Sargeist is clearly something very special indeed. The follow-up to 2005’s magnificent ‘Disciple Of The Heinous Path’ was a long time coming but ‘Let The Devil In’ finally arrived late last year via Moribund Records, with World Terror Committee handling the rather attractive vinyl version. Superior sound quality over the digital format aside, this is one of those albums whose artwork demands a vinyl incarnation.
It looks and feels the part, that’s for sure – but does ‘LTDI’ cut the mustard musically? To be honest, I’m not sure. We get ten tracks of overtly Satanic Black Metal, singing the praises of the Hell-dweller himself but somehow managing to sound disappointingly monotonous and uninspired. On Side One, ‘From The Black Coffin Lair’ was the only song that really grabbed me by the balls and inspired me to sit up and take real notice, while the LP’s penultimate cut ‘Twilight Breath Of Satan’ is arguably the only truly exceptional tune on Side Two. The otherwise unforgiving pace and intensity drops a notch on these songs, which is possibly why they stand out … a bit of variety. That’s not to say the rest of the album isn’t good; it just isn’t great. And I expected more from such a talented crew, especially considering how much I enjoyed the predecessor.
Perhaps I need to give it a few more listens to allow ‘Let The Devil In’ to work its full magic on me, but for the time being it isn’t moving me as much as I’d like. All the prerequisite ingredients are here that should make for an outstanding BM album: ferocious guitars, harsh vocals, boundless energy in the rhythm department. It’s an unforgiving, relentless onslaught, the sort of devil-worshipping album that is designed to pummel the listener into submission. Flawless in execution and evil to its rotten core, this is sinister stuff. A ripping Black Metal album; no more, no less.
(Review originally appears on http://www.blackmetalreviews.com)
Finnish black metal is an acquired taste. It's chaotic, noisy and pure evil. I happen to love this style of black metal, and for me there is a real beauty that can be found deep within the chaos if your mind allows you to hear it. The other reason I have become such a fan of the Fin's over the years is the fact that this music actually gives me an "uneasy" feeling. The same feeling I remember having as a kid watching horror movies at home alone late at night. So, I have been anxiously awaiting the chance to sink my teeth into Let The Devil In, by pack leaders Sargeist, (comprised of members of Behexen and the mighty Horna). My expectations were high, and let me say, from the opening note, this album does not disappoint. In fact, after listening to this a handful of times, I will easily call it their best effort to date for a few reasons.
Firstly, let me say this is STILL Sargeist, and will not let down the die-hards of the old. However, this is a more mature release musically. The song structures have come a long way since Satanic Black Devotion, but still maintain everything this band is known for. There is definitely more of the signature intertwining guitar work, that weaves in and out amongst the chaos of the drums and ghastly vocals. It's that guitar work that takes the listener for an emotional roller coaster, especially on songs like "Burning Voice of Adoration", which has the ability to stir up absolute sadness and sorrow. As for production, the formula is still the same. Turn everything up beyond reason and comprehension, almost to a breaking point. Seriously, prolonged exposure to this will probably make your houseplants wilt and die. The major difference between Let The Devil In, and the older releases is that you don't have to try as hard to distinguish what's going on musically. It's still noisy and dirty as ever, but also more structured.
My advice? Get this cd. Light some candles and spend some time alone with this one, and see if it doesn't make the hair on the back
of your neck stand up.
Five years have passed since the last Sargeist full-length. Shatraug has been extremely busy during this time, releasing a large amount of material with his primary band, Horna. As for Sargeist, only a couple split albums and a single E.P. have stood as proof that the project had not been laid to rest. The wait has been, at times, quite excruciating. However, November 2010 marked the release of their third record, Let the Devil In, on Moribund Records.
Of all the high-quality bands to come out of the Finnish Black Metal scene, Sargeist has always been my favourite. From the first time that I heard Satanic Black Devotion, I recognized something special about this particular group. Shatraug's trademark songwriting style was present, but somehow this deviated from the material that he had written for Horna. For those that have not heard this band, you are missing out on something truly powerful. Working within the established boundaries of the Second Wave Black Metal sound, Sargeist manages to implement these well-known tactics and still create something that is unique and entirely identifiable as their own. And therein lies the magic of this band; they remain true to the roots of this musical style, paying homage to those that paved the way, and yet there are also elements that build upon this foundation and take the listener deeper into oblivion.
Let the Devil In picks right up where Disciple of the Heinous Path left off, in many ways. In fact, though the first two albums have quite a bit of sentimental value for me, this one may be superior in that the various tempos and riffs are arranged seamlessly, with no awkward changes or strange riffs to bridge from one theme to another. All of the same ingredients can be found, such as the mournful tremolo melodies, the mid-paced and somber riffs and even a few galloping sections that add even more to the old school feeling. Where there were a couple of oddly arranged parts on the previous record, which hindered the overall atmosphere, this is wholly absent from Let the Devil In. Everything fits together very well, and in no way distracts from the atmosphere being created. The feelings conveyed are those of darkness and a somber sense of despondency that permeates the majority of the riffs. Many of the guitar melodies stick with you after the first listen, but to fully appreciate the album it is best to sit in total solitude and focus on the sounds in utter darkness or only the light of a few candles. This is not mere background noise, it requires some effort on the part of the listener, and you will find that deeper concentration will allow you to fall deeper into the dark realm conjured up by this album.
The production is not far off from their previous releases. The rough edges of Disciple of the Heinous Path are slightly smoothed, and that is in the most minimal sense as I can possibly indicate. It is comparable to Horna's Musta Kaipuu; raw enough to suit the music while retaining enough clarity for the melodies to be heard. The sound isn't exactly bitter cold; more like the feeling of slight warmth from the funeral torches as one wanders through the frozen gravelands. The main focus seems to be exactly where it needs to be, and that is on the guitar riffs. The drums are just loud enough to do their job in keeping the tempo, but not so much that they would distract from the melodies. In other words, this is Black Metal done right. There is no double-bass dominating the album and carrying the music as in many modern releases. As for Hoath Torog's vocals, he gives an excellent performance and really suits the vibe of the music. In addition, his accent adds to the exotic feeling of the music, as one can notice when reading the lyric sheet and following along with the music.
Let the Devil In contains absolutely no filler. There are no intros or outros, no instrumental interludes, no songs that are overly repetitive for the sake of reaching a certain length. The material is remarkably strong, and this is evident from the early moments of "Empire of Suffering" as the mournful tremolo riffs envelope you in a whirlwind of hate and misery. The half-paced sections really do well to stick to your brain, immediately. This carries on with each successive song. It also becomes clear that the structure of the album was given a lot of attention, with each song placed precisely where it needed to be. Unlike most modern Black Metal bands that simply copy what came before with no original input, whatsoever, and just cram a bunch of noise onto the album, Sargeist have worked to carefully and methodically craft something beyond what mere impostors could ever hope to achieve.
There is almost a sense of beauty in the utter darkness that is evoked here. Listening to the main riff of "Burning Voice of Adoration", for example, almost seems to lull you into a trance and take you somewhere beyond the realm of the mundane, to a otherworldly dimension where things seem to take on more significance. Songs like "Nocturnal Revelation" truly embody an incredibly gloomy and menacing sentiment that few bands are capable of calling forth. "As Darkness Tears the World Apart" displays an epic and majestic sensibility in the guitar melodies, transcending the pedestrian approach of their contemporaries. The overall atmosphere is undeniably dark and projects a deep hatred for life and light. Also, as can be expected, there is a powerful disdain for the religious sheep and the Great Lie that is professed by believers of the Judeo-Christian mythology. This is rather typical for Black Metal, but you definitely get the sense that it is very genuine in Sargeist's case, rather than a product of style.
"I invert the cross of hope
And dwell in black despair
Every moment of every day
I'm blasphemy incarnate"
It is a crime that this band is not more well-known as they have continued to raise the bar for what modern Black Metal releases should be striving to accomplish; strict adherence to the traditions of the style and keeping the old school spirit alive, while building upon that foundation to produce something admirable and worthwhile. In the last year or two, several Black Metal bands have released impressive albums, including Burzum, Gorgoroth and Immortal. As good as those have been, none of them manage to capture the pure darkness and genuine feeling of Sargeist's latest opus. In a word, Let the Devil In is brilliant and it is highly recommended that you seek this out and listen to it immediately. Fans of their previous efforts will not be disappointed and those new to the band will be instantly converted.
One of black metal's most famous vagabonds, Shatraug, is back again, and this time with the latest Sargeist album. Shatraug likes to keep himself occupied, already having multiple releases with various projects already this year. And who can blame him when you're one of the most critically acclaimed artists still operating in the black metal scene? Sargeist were always a band I had an extremely large amount of time for. There is a subtle malevolence about Satanic Black Devotion and Disciple of the Heinous Path which always keeps dragging me back to them. They're not groundbreaking releases by any means, but it's Shatraug's penchant for being able to write an infectious riff and Hoath Torog's fantastic vocals patterns that always kept my Sargeist albums at the top of my CD pile.
If you're a fan of any of Sargeist's previous releases, then in short, this album will blow your skull clean fucking through. Whereas the previous albums did tend to be fairly inconsistent at times, Sargeist take the best aspects of everything produced before, and conjoined them all into one grandiose manifestation of pure old school black metal genius. The general sound of Sargeist isn't really comparable to much of that say in the original Norwegian Scene, Sargeist quite clearly have that recognizable Finnish sound, in fact he had a significant hand in helping develop that sound. It's the overall attitude and atmosphere within the recording that is comparable to bands such as old Gorgoroth and Emperor. It has always appeared to me that Shatraug is a clear believer in doing things the traditional way, and with material such as this, how can you argue?
If you've heard Behexen, which you most likely have if you're a fan of Sargeist, Hoath Torog's vocals are pretty much identical to theirs. As he's a member of both bands, that's pretty much a given, but whereas Behexen are an all out blasphemic hailstorm, Sargeist are much more brooding. Hoath Torog's vocals are utterly intense, when I say he's one of the strongest vocalists in the scene at the minute, I mean that. He coils each phrase, each word, writhing perfectly around each chord. Budding vocalists take note, this is exactly how black metal vocals should be done, delivered with an iron authority, driving the music without ever becoming distracting. The vocals have a good amount of reverb on them, as Sargeist have always done, and when done properly, such as here, add that tormented touch perfectly. The riffing is deceptively melodic, Shatraug's style here varies from fast to slow, mainly utilizing traditional tremolo riffing, but with a certain almost rockish feel to it a times. The riff in “Discovering the Enshrouded Eye” for one is a good example to this. Horn is still the drummer, and adds a heady amount of brutality to the proceedings, from hyper-speed blasting and fills, to almost punk like rhythms, it compliments the melodic guitar lines flawlessly, avoiding ever becoming overpowering. My only problem? The album name. I can't help but get an image of old Lucifer standing outside your house soaked to the skin in the pouring rain, knocking to get in, and your nagging wife telling you to let him in.
Of all Shatraug's projects, and there are many of them, I can safely say this is the best release by any single one of them by far. It was a fairly unexpected drop, this album, but oh so welcome. In a scene which some may say is starting to lose sight of it roots, Let the Devil In is a modern benchmark of how it should be done for any burgeoning black metal band to strive for. Combining the 'true' ethics of old, and building upon their previous work, Sargeist have created a majestic work of tyrannical black art, spiralling oblivion. You can tell they put a hell of a lot of work into this release, because it shows. With Let the Devil In, Sargeist have evolved into something mighty. The bar is set, people.
Though I'm fond of a great many works written by the blood-dipped pen of Shatraug, it is rare that I would use the term 'inspiring' by which to define them. Yes, Horna and Behexen are both ineffable agents of the ravenous Finnish sound, and Mortualia offers us a moratorium for all hopes and dreams, and the man has about 50 other projects he's been involved with. But when the first two tracks of the latest Sargeist record storm forth as an unflinching, escalating revel in the rituals of the prince of darkness, the last you thing I would expect was to be 'moved'. After all, hasn't every black metal riff already been performed countless times, with the same strident fervor and calculated step, the same harrowing sense for melody and misanthropic vocal reach?
According to Let the Devil In, this is not the case. Sure, you can identify just about every trace of the band's sound against the larger, orthodox black metal tradition. Every elemental component fits the band's tried and tested approach from earlier years ala Satanic Black Devotion, but there is some nearly intangible sprig of bliss here, some unidentified grease spit upon the gears of hellish exultation that sends the third Sargeist full-length screaming to both the top tier of the conflagration, and very near the top of the black metal records I've heard over the past year. They've written themselves a beast of an effort here that somehow manages to seem refreshing, despite the fact that in no sense at all does it deviate from the parameters of its genre, and the credit must be squarely placed upon the horns of the guitar riffs of Shatraug, the solid, dynamic drumming of Horns and the amazing, fully fleshed vocal torments of Hoath Torog.
Let the Devil In knows to immediately storm the gates of your diminishing heart with its early tracks, and "Empire of Suffering" delivers that titular, unholy host straight to your nether regions with melodic certainty; a last, desperate charge of the night brigade that cedes into a beautiful mid-paced parade of lost souls. "A Spell to Awaken the Temple" digs a little deeper into the fret board, but continues to flood through the listener with emotional duress and the clarion call to battle. Neither of these tracks are complex in any way, but they sound superb thanks to the mix, and they balance their focused aggression with a subtle sobriety. Then a funny thing happens: the album never ceases to inspire awe. Paces might change, as with the burgeoning rock rhythm behind "From the Black Coffin Lair", or the dour and sluggishly dense "Nocturnal Revelation" and "Twilight Breath of Satan", but the thick broth of well placed chords and huge, sinister vocals simply never ends, until the final chord of "As Darkness Tears the World Apart".
By this point I've already heaped quite a high level of praise upon this Sargeist record, but I should remind you to in no way expect anything out of the ordinary. The album's ability to do so much with so little is precisely why it's so effective and memorable. Not even a faint trace of originality is executed, yet the results are overwhelming. If you couldn't care less about any emission from this genre since the early 90s (barring the avant-garde exceptions), that is not likely to change. But to ignore this would be a disservice, because it's simply a great black metal record, their best to date, and one that should easily stave off the hunger of the fans for another half-decade while the Horna/Behexen machine keeps spinning.