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They Still Haunt Ме... Those Sacred Sounds - 93%

bayern, July 10th, 2017

Sacrament joined the fray a bit late, but their debut was an explosive piece of bashing thrash with bold echoes of proto-death akin to Viking’s “Do or Die”, Morbid Saint’s “Spectrum of Death”, and Devastation’s “Idolatry”, with a few more stylish flourishes spicing the hyper-active delivery. Those flourishes find a full bloom on the album reviewed here which is a logical occurrence following the more technical/progressive infatuations of the scene from the early-90’s, standing proud beside meisterwerks like Forbidden’s “Twisted into Form”, Dark Angel’s “Time Does Not Heal”, and Heathen’s “Victims of Deception”.

Alongside Defiance’s “Beyond Recognition” this opus was the last outcry from the US retro thrash metal underground before the genre’s demise. It was a bold statement made by a band who still had something left to say having in mind their relatively late appearance. The title-track is an awesome way to start the saga with the officiant stomping intro, the creepy semi-technical riffs, and the gradual fast-paced accumulations which “duel” with more exuberant technical outbursts later, nearly 7-min of flawlessly executed complex metal the intense venomous, forceful shouty vocals another important ingredient. “Carry the Wounded” is a twisted pounding marcher with speedy “interruptions” and jarring hectic guitar work, and “Destructive Heresies” follows a similar pattern with more direct and more intricate riff-formulas alternating on a heavy punishing rhythm-section. “The Wicked Will Rot” has a most alluring surreal inauguration which gets repeated under different configurations later, intercepting the engaging cannonade that is again based on the fast/slow alternation, a superb technical riff knot putting an end to it.

“Supplication” is a great shredder with echoes of Coroner’s “Divine Step”, especially at the beginning when the guys mosh with the utmost precision and accuracy, pouring a myriad of fast clinical riffs over the listener who will also be enchanted by a brief portion of bizarre Mekong Delta-sque pirouettes mid-way. “Souls in Torment” is a fine combination of heavy, almost doomy, and intense blitzkrieg passages the ensuing drama further enhanced by more technical build-ups in the second half with more frequent time and tempo changes. “Separate from Iniquity” unleashes a cavalcade of supreme technical riffage at first which gets more and more dynamic until the staple barrage gets restored its stride broken by a beautiful balladic break in the middle; screamy leads add more to the diversity witnessed on this cut which is another prime example of consummately executed progressive thrash. “Seared Consciences” is the next in line varied thrashterpiece exhibiting another seamless blend of speedy and more laid-back arrangements the band the ultimate experts in those alternations which here are helped by more regular intricate explosions not far from Sieges Even and Deathrow even, including on the supreme twisted finale. “Under Threat of Death” is a more linear stripped-down headbanger, a probable leftover from the debut, cancelled by the quiet tranquil beginning of the closing “Portraits of Death” which also brings back the technical ways of execution alongside the traditional tempo turnaround, being choppier and less predictable due to the stop-and-go technique applied all over.

A true heavyweight in every sense, this grand opus occupied the middle ground between the mentioned albums and the more aggressive technical thrash/death metal hybrids (Hellwitch, Vacant Grave, Vicious Circle, Revenant, etc.) as it was more intense than the former, and not as brutal as the latter. It was a unique niche that could have been filled with other practitioners, but the US scene was already looking elsewhere unlike some countries in Europe (Germany, Russia, Holland) which provided both a groove and a death proof shelter for its thrash metal stalwarts for another couple of years. Another category where this band fitted was the Christian thrash metal movement, but even in a strong company like the one provided by pillars like Seventh Angel, Tourniquet, Deliverance, Detritus, Believer, Living Sacrifice and Vengeance Rising Sacrament easily stood their ground, remaining one of the finest examples of this particular brand.

The guys went their separate ways in the mid-90’s, but several years later some of them were seen in the progressive gothic metal formation Fountain of Tears, another Christian-based outfit, a collaboration between the Sacrament guys and their colleagues from Believer, with female vocals leading the show which has no relations to thrash opting for a more dreamy, melancholic delivery not far from Lacuna Coil and later-period The Gathering. This partnership lasted long enough for two full-lengths to be released, but it was also brought to an end, possibly due to Believer’s recent reformation. Now what’s left is the Sacrament team to remind of themselves with another impressive collection of sacred haunting tunes…

Sacrament's supposed "Opus" - 75%

TiredOfBeingAlive, June 24th, 2007

I'm no fan of Christian bands (ex. As I Lay Dying, Underoath, bands like that), but these guys are slightly different. THEY'RE THRASH! Well...sort of, but we'll get to that later. According to ClassicThrash.com, this album is a "minor masterpiece." So you know I had to go check this one out.

When it came in the mail, I was surprised at what I heard. It was actually halfway decent! It was great the first few spins, but after that, it begins to degrade in your mind. The more I listened, the less Thrash I heard and the more Groove I heard. I like Groove every now and then, but that change just seemed to disappoint me, as it wasn't what I was expecting.

The album is actually rather mediocre, but it's nowhere near horrible. Besides the heavily tongue-in-cheek Christian lyrics, which can get very annoying after a while (I'm no Anti-Christian or anything), it's a decent album. It's pretty much it's own brand of Thrash though. If you're looking for some Thrash that is very original, this is an album to get.

I'm only giving it a 75 because well...I know these guys are trying. The musicianship is excellent and the songs are enjoyable. But it's just not my idea of a Thrash masterpiece.

This album is an acquired taste. It's a buy if you're a Christian Thrash fan though.