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If I mention terms "brutal death metal" and "Mesopotamia", what kind of picture do they paint in your mind? Would you think of bands such as Nile and Morbid Angel, perhaps? Yes, I thought you would do so. Sarpanitum perform brutal death metal with lyrical subjects taken from Mesopotamian mythology.
'Despoilment of Origin', this Birmingham-based quartet's debut full length album, does manage to outbargain the bulk of current death metal releases. Also the majority of the established band's releases. For a big part, Sarpanitum simply ravage listener with their sonic equivalent to multitude of army legions. Ultra-fast drumming (and not just two comps), quick as lightning metallic guitars and guttural blows surely enchant everyone who's into brutal death metal. Every now and then, mystical and beautiful sweeps of melodiousness created with guitars and synthesizer, locate listener's mind on the flight over the ancient landscapes of Mesopotamia. The melodic ingredient takes me back to the times when "melody" didn't refer for "gay" (for example Pestilence's classic 'Testimony of the Ancients' ). Sarpanitum have composed very good songs; some of these monstrous whirlwinds really sticked to my mind on first few listenings. And while this is epic, it is so in raw way (unlike Dimmu "money can hire you a huge symphony orchestra" Borgir), like I feel Nile's debut album 'Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren Ka' (1998) is. Oh, and besides aforementioned death metal legends, I'd like to mention the name Mithras too, because it also raised to my mind while experiencing Sarpanitum.
Vocals are mostly guttural growling. Thankfully there is a lot of variety there. From deep abdomen growl to nasty snarl, and loads of things between those two. Usually it's pretty easy to get what's growled, so points for that. As mentioned, Mesopotamian mythology is where the lyrical subject have been picked from. Nothing new, but still deviating enough from majority. Instruments are handled in masterly way. All the hell Sarpanitum are able to raise, the production work is well-balanced. It is also raw and edgy, actually it is perfect for this kind of music.
Sarpanitum have composed even slightly idiosyncratic death metal by weaving together styles from three continents (Europe, Asia and North America). I really don't know what to reproach here. 'Despoilment of Origin' is one fucking brutal 35 -minute flagellation session, believe me. If you are into extreme metal music, then please do inspect this. You will thank me for this small piece of advise.
(originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com in 2007)
It could be said that the UK death metal scene is a bit generic. A lot of current British death metal bands seem more fixed on playing live than creating timeless albums, and whilst there are still lots of outstanding death metal acts playing heavy and thoroughly enjoyable material (such as Nailed), there's a lack of death metal in the UK that has any strong last value or standout features, which is a shame considering the excellent musicianship found in a lot of British death metal bands. Sarpanitum are different though, and 'Despoilment of Origin' is an album that has a strong lasting value and some really great, memorable songs.
'Despoilment of Origin' reminds me most of Behemoth's Demigod, and although it's not an exact rip-off there's certainly a strong influence present. Both bands play brutal death metal with plenty of melody, with a similar grandiose feel. At times there are slower riffs with drums blasting over the top that remind me the most of Demigod. However, this isn't quite as abstract as that album, Sarpanitum still have a foot rooted firmly in regular brutal/tech death metal and also show a bit of Nile influence in the riffing department. The Behemoth influence still stands though, and this is mostly recommended to fans of that bands most recent works. It has a similarly epic, spiritual feeling whilst still retaining a good level of brutality. It's not all slow and atmospheric, there are lots of severaly fast blast sections broken up by slow, tension-building melodic parts.
Sarpanitum have very keen compositional skills. No one riff is ever overused and all of the transitions sound like they were very much meant to be, the band slide effortlessly from a breakneck blast to a slow atmospheric section and show that they're certainly no amateurs when it comes to piecing together a song. The bands skill is most evident in the relationship between guitars and drums, as the riffing might be especially epic and powerful at one point as the drums play a warlike rhythm beneath...the references to Behemoth and Nile become even more evident in such instances. The production is pretty damn perfect for a modern brutal death metal album, the mixing really brings out the power behind the songwriting. Sarpanitum are one of the best current UK death metal bands and although they seem to be popular on this site they're not nearly as well known as they deserve to be, so don't hesitate to get a copy of this album if you're a fan of real modern death metal, you won't be disappointed.
This is an interesting debut album from a modern death metal band! The first thing that struck me was that the sound production is excellent, it really brings the best out of this album. Not that it would sound bad without the production, since the music itself is of a very high quality.
The music is very much based on the drums and the guitar. Well played heavy riffs are followed up by frantic blast-beats, and a lot of interesting drumming apart from that. There is no lack of brutality throughout the album, but it still succeeds in maintaining that certain groove. If you listen to songs like “Ascending the Divine” or “Dawn of Enthrallment” you will understand what I’m talking about. The singer mostly utilizes a guttural growl, it’s not really unique but then it sounds very good.
Mesopotamian gods are apparently Sarpanitum’s lyrical theme and they seem to have gotten inspiration from bands like Nile. Since I’m a devoted Nile fan and interested in the old river cultures I find that to be a most pleasing factor.
I’m going to sum up this review by stating that this is a hell of a debut album and I’m really looking forward to a second release. Hopefully it will follow in the same patterns as “Despoilment of Origin”.
It is amazing that such a young band can have such a proficient and powerful sound. Despoilment of Origin relentlessly assaults the listener with powerful militaristic drumming, deep and commanding bass lines, and tremulous guitar structures that Nergal would be proud to bear on those eternally barren sands bordering the Fertile Crescent.
Influences are strong within Cursed Madness; song structures throughout the album may remind the listener of an early Immolation / later Morbid Angel hybrid accompanied by a vocal layout that (at times) sounds like it came straight out of Vaderâ€™s Litany sessions. Sarpanitum, however, is so much more than the sum of its influences. Verses flow into each other flawlessly, contrasted perfectly with calculated drumming that accentuates the slowly-released melody found on the album. Vocals are done by two individuals who have a wide array of styles at their disposal that range from old-school death metal vocals to blackish roars, then back to exhaled gurgles â€” the fact of the matter is theyâ€™re thick, theyâ€™re deep, and they fit perfectly.
This is easily one of the top death metal albums of 2007 so far, and this is not an easy statement to make either; with (upcoming) releases from Behemoth, Inveracity, Gorgasm, and Demiurg â€” Sarpanitum demonstrate superb compositional skills and an air of professionalism that is rarely seen in young bands today.
When you have a sound like this there is nothing left to be desired. This killer debut gives you the fast, technicality of acts like Nile and Mithras yet they maintain their own distinctive sound enforced mainly by the purely demonic vocals.
There a few bands that truly give you that fully satisfied feeling but Sarpanitum are literally jaw-dropping especially in songs like 'Provocation of an Eternal Odium' and 'Ascending the Divine' the drums and heavy, distinct guitars allow for an enjoyable listen every time without sounding monotonous.
The riffing is superb and aggressive and is highlighted by the crushing force of one of the most demonic vocalists in the death metal act.
The 5th track Dusk over Assyria splits the album almost as you get the chance to enjoy the sort of the style that Sarpanitum put out and then the next song 'Cur Defilement' sort of follows on from 'Dusk over Assyria' and slowly builds back into the brutality and intense drumming that we all know and love by now.
This album is very precise and everything is done specifically to add to the ambience and technicality of this death metal masterpiece!