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Thrash with class - 85%

Felix 1666, July 26th, 2015
Written based on this version: 1988, 12" vinyl, Noise Records

"Rule, Britannia! Britannia rule the waves!" Well, we all know that Britannia really ruled the seven seas for a time span of several centuries. But the United Kingdom, to touch a sore spot, never ruled thrash metal. At best this is the plot for the history of a time to come.

While a lot of German thrash metal squadrons could prove their perseverance, their breakable British counterparts were dropping like flies. Slammer and D.A.M., Deathwish and Xentrix, would you be so kind as to tell us what went wrong? Unfortunately, we must confront Sabbat with the same question. The line-up change after two grandiose full-lengths turned out to be a suicidal act. However, the debut of the band was promising and energizing at the same time.

Although the guitars sometimes sounded like a swarm of insects, "heavy metal" was written all over the slightly uneven face of the production. The physiognomic irregularities were based on the fairly insane vocals of Martin Walkyier. Due to his highly expressive style of singing, he was an accuser, starry-eyed idealist and madman simultaneously. His characteristic performance could be entered on the credit side of the account. Apart from his singing, the overlong lyrics posed a challenge. Unfortunately, I never saw them on stage so that I do not know whether Walkyier was able to manage this flood of words when standing before the audience. However, his charismatic voice was not the only trump card of the juvenile quartet. Sabbat had many more irons in the fire. Just let me put the tracks themselves into the limelight.

Three songs stood out. The fast-paced "A Cautionary Tale" was the straightest piece of the album. It had the potential to break your neck, but it was not really representing the usually more complicated style of the band. The more protruding riffs of the excellent first two songs of the B side revealed the typical approach of the British guys. But their neglect of straightness was not at the expense of catchiness. For example, both the howling riff at the beginning of "I for an Eye" as well as the desperate second part of the verse of "For Those Who Died" offered a high degree of distinctiveness. The same applied to the powerful chorus of the latter. The sadistic request of a hysterical crowd ("Burning, into the fire") made me shiver while seeing a dark medieval scene before my inner eye. Regardless of these three highlights, nearly each and every song glittered with interesting details like a dark acoustic intro, a diabolic laughter or fantastic twists and turns. I was intrigued by the overwhelming creativity of these debutants when listening to this release for the first time. Only the lyrics of the brilliant "Behind the Crooked Cross" dealt with a more or less hackneyed topic. Nevertheless, the clever band was able to handle this situation intelligently.

Finally, do not be fooled by the painted portraits of the band members on the sleeve of the album. The folkloric touch of the images did not indicate the musical direction. Sabbat played pure thrash metal without lacking in authenticity. Their autonomous style could not be compared with the rumbling approach of German bands such as Kreator or Sodom and they also did not only focus on the sharp riffs of the thrashing Bay Area hordes. Despite a relatively huge number of breaks, the songs had a natural flow. Sabbat did not put the emphasis on progressiveness. They just had a lot of good ideas. I regret all the more that they did not have the discipline to write, record and release more than only two albums with the here operating line-up. It aspired gamely to excellence and worked like a well-oiled engine whose cogs were carefully balanced. In view of Sabbat´s brief existence, it was all the more important that "History of a Time to Come" left its mark successfully. Only the British Navy was even more impressive.