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A really fascinating piece of art! - 79%

oneyoudontknow, July 4th, 2008

Sometimes it would be interesting to write a review that would reflect the music in such a way as it has been composed. That by mere reading the text the chords and motives begin to hover in the air, enter the ears of the reader and progress in the melody with each passed word even more; until by finishing the text also all songs have ended and thusly to the reader all content had been magically revealed. Such is illusory, but as a brain experiment certainly interesting. In the case of Sabazius the novel would indeed be a long and maybe even epic one. Even though only four tracks can be found on their first full-length, an entire length of close to two-and-a-half hours should certainly compensate the listener for the small amount of compositions.

If someone wants to write properly on such a release, it is only possible by describing each song at a time, especially as all of them do not sound very alike respectively possess facets pre-/succeeding ones do not have.

1. Occult (29:15)

The album opens with a unique song and perhaps the concept behind it is also the best way to start such an extraordinary strange collection of tracks. It opens with merely drums ... nothing but drums ... on and on just drums ... one simple drum motive ... on and on, then samples join in the monotony:
1 - Teaching resource 'acquired' from a church school, intended to warn kids off playing with the supernatural.
2 - Section of Aleister Crowley's 'The Initiated Interpretation of Ceremonial Magic' (1903).
3 - Various recordings of Aleister Crowley (in a specific order).

After some more minutes a bass starts to play and for around fifteen minutes this go on this way ... no variation ... nothing new except for new samples. Even though guitars join in then, they are merely added and do not change the tempo of the music. Rather is there some kind of more volume and aggressiveness in it now. Yet the whole idea does not remain the same until the end of the track. Around the mark of 18 minutes the first time only the guitars play the melody and soon (21 minutes) a new motive and structure is introduced; with riffs that are slightly influenced by death metal. Soon later there is another chance towards a drony motive, which lasts, with a short interruption, until the end.

Occult is a very strange song somehow and the way the motives progress over the whole length is undoubtedly fascinating; an aspect some of the other songs also have in favour. Despite the minimalism and repetition it consists, it is always able to fascinate the listener in an inexplicable manner and this is due to the use of samples. The focus is set on them rather on the music and therefore is the 'simple' concept not perceived as such, as there is an elements at hand which tends to change to a great deal as well as draws attention to it. Would it not be for them, Occult would be plain and boring. In the aforementioned short quote from the band, some reference is being drawn towards several religious topics and each of them has found their place in this song. Even though they switch now and then and introduce new topics into, they fit together and the arrangement of the samples is pretty enjoyable with the different kinds of vocals etc.

2. Death’s Eternal Sleep (47:43)

Ask yourself, what is the slowest song you are familiar with? The second one on this album has parts which a lot of funeral doom bands will find challenging to play in a even slower tempo. Perhaps the song title should be taken into consideration and might give some reference to the way the song has been written and the concept behind it: Cthulhu and his eternal slumber. Such is the song. A dreamy atmosphere, progression with the speed of a snail and occasionally vocals that are nothing more than lifeless whisperings. The endless slumber, endless circles, endless repetition, endless monotony and no escape.

Close to one chord per second, this is the way the song opens and there is not much change in the concept until long. In comparison to the preceding song, there is often even more minimalism in this one and the first real break in the motives is around 18 minutes. After a short intermezzo of bass and drums, a doom influenced part takes over the tempo is increased immense; judging from the extremely slow one with which the song opened.

Peculiar is the part after 22:30, as this riff structure is also used by thrash as well as death metal bands and to the listener it sounds as if the tension is increased until the melting point. Towards the end the tempo varies, as previously used motives are used again. Yet there is rather a tendency towards slowness than to fast ones and like the songs has begun it also ends.

A difference to the opener is the abundance of any kind of samples. Except for the track Occult all others ones rely on the riffs and the atmosphere created by instruments. Hence can the repetition and the minimalism not be plastered and therefore does the band rely on the combination of variation in the themes, motives as well as the intensity in which they are presented. They vary in the latter aspect and accordingly progresses the music in a slight, but still recognizable way.

Furthermore is Death’s Eternal Sleep more intense than the opener; also due to the weird way the vocals are expressed. Especially this facet makes the song, despite its length 'recognizable'. There is something which enables the listener to remember it and to recall elements of it.

3. Terror Is Thy Name (27:25)

The preceding track was based on an aspect of the Lovecraftian universe, the Cthulhu Myth, while the third one has the following concept behind it: 'Kali the Mother' of Swami Vivekananda; according to Wikipedia one of the most famous and influential spiritual leaders of the philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga; 2008-06-23.

Surprise, surprise, the song-writing has changed again to a facet that has not had such a graven influence on the preceding two songs. Drony are the guitars in this song and the minimalism in terms of the chords is occasionally driven to excess here. On the song's structure, the following can be said:
Again the opening of the track is on a very slow tempo; around the mark of three minutes drums enter and a slight variation on the motive takes occurs, yet the chords are played in a speed of a snail and they are also very drony; the motive progresses slightly in complexity with each repetition of the arrangements: new elements are added, while other vanish. This goes on for some time, to reduce the complexity of the description on the music to a minimum, until the fifteenth minute. Then: only a bass and some hardly recognizable snare create an ambient atmosphere, whereas shortly after this small interlude vocals, guitars and drums take over. Very abrupt does this take place and the switch between a very calm and quite atmosphere to an aggressive one is somehow disturbing or even annoying. The attention of the listener is focused instantaneously on the vocals, even though not much of the lyrics can be understood. The mixture of screams and some slight reverb makes it difficult to figure out what is expressed by the vocalist. For several minutes a very characteristic motive of accentuated snare drums/guitars with the vocals is repeated, until the song closes with a mixture of drony doomy riffs.

The focus on this track lies on the vocal performance in the middle part and this differentiates it from the other ones. On Death’s Eternal Sleep there were several parts in which the vocals appear, rather like some kind of chorus, but in case of Terror Is Thy Name it is limited to nearly one 'segment' only; there are small vocal fragments close to the end of the track, but they have no graven effect on how the song is perceived.

4. XXIII (42:09)

The last track of the album is a rather strange one and this has to do with the way it was recorded. Unlike the three preceding tracks, the structure of this one is rather loose and not coherent. Sabazius jammed around a bit and the outcome of this was XXIII. Not my cup of tea.

Not for the masses, not for someone who does not have the patience to endure a song of a length of over twenty minutes and especially not for someone who abhors music that is written in a very repetitive and often very minimalist style. All those who are 'affected' by the aforementioned aspects will enjoy this well crafted release; which is available for free. Except for the last track, they are fascinating and it is interesting to see the ideas evolve and progress. Occult, the opener of this full-length is impressive, despite the minimalist way in which it was composed. This has to do with the usage of samples of a various kind; it is their part that motivates the listener to take the trip the track is offering. Musically, not much difference can be found on the other three compositions, but the opener offers a good example why it is important to present something to the listener to focus on, while the rest of the music remains in a very simple state no one would normally listen to. This aspect is very often neglected by depressive black metal bands, whose attempt in creating music is very much alike that of Sabazius. Yet they fail in their approach due their self-imposed limitation, which often neglects the importance of catchiness and atmosphere.

Repetition of motives and excessive simplicity in terms of the song-writing can easily lead to a negative perception of the music. Sabazius is stretching the patience of the listener to a great deal on this album and the line between being annoyed and fascinated is indeed a very thin one. Nevertheless is this release interesting as the music is well crafted and the songs somehow never really plain or boring etc. How the song build up respectively the songs progress is what makes the music interesting. Outstanding in quality is the opener, while the last one, a jam session, is hardly endurable; especially with such a length.

On how far this release foreshadows the path the band will take on further releases, only time can tell. Some of the ideas would be neat to be seen on forthcoming albums, like the use of samples from different sources for instance or these strange kinds of vocals together with drony guitars. If the extreme form of repetition should be kept or some kind of progression towards a rather complex type of song-writing should be made, is hard to say. Sabazius has proven on the first song that it is possible to write music in such a fashion which possesses some fascination, but the line between being ordinary and chilling is certainly a very small one. Nevertheless: more of this please...