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Entirely conventional black metal - 73%

erebuszine, May 1st, 2013

Sargeist are from Finland, and lately I haven't been that impressed by Finnish bands. I don't really know why exactly, perhaps it has something to do with the fact that so many of them seem to be content to just comment on what Swedish or Norwegian bands were doing 6-10 years ago... and there has never really been a "national" identity or cohesive style to this country's output. No one learned from Beherit! That is a good thing in one sense as it means there aren't as many "controls" on the individual musician's attempts at expression, but it also means that there isn't a widely-available musical language to make composing and creating easier. Each artist has to begin from the first process of attempting a novel conception, ratifying their own ingenuity, experimenting, trying to come up with a viable, working sound, etc. It takes a great deal of time. I think most bands just get tired of the entire individual sojourn, the creative "journey", and give up. I also don't know if there is any kind of unified collective, scene or structured fusion of musicians in Finland that would advise and inspire each other. Everyone seems to be completely isolated in that bleak country. In any case, what these things have meant for the past 5 years at least is: a few good bands, original, trying something new, working from their own internal/personal inspiration, creating their own effective solipsistic languages, and then a befuddled legion of other copycat bands who, like I said above, are satisfied with just xeroxing Darkthrone once again.

I don't pick up on a lot of Darkthrone on this record [good!]... what is strange is I actually hear Gorgoroth, which is interesting in that I don't come across that many bands that reference [or who admit the influence of] that primal, insane unit. The guitar sound, the sedately-paced riffs, the stab at rousing anthem-like melodies, the song structures, etc. all remind me of Infernus's contribution to the Norwegian black lexicon. The guitar sound, which might be from "Pentagram" or "Antichrist", only smoothed out and compressed, is slightly atypical for a black metal band. The distortion has been rolled back and the result is more jangling, clear, disjointed, crass, loose, simple. I'm tempted to reference a few British pop groups but I'll refrain from embarrassing both of us. The riffing itself is completely standardized, archetypal [some would say "classic"], traditional, and yet is highly effective because it both works on its own, from its own merits, and it is constantly consulting older works which you have heard and which you still have dark emotional ties to. Every little corner and slice of this record will awaken in your brain those decade-old memories of hearing the Norwegians for the first time, etc. The music is evocative and structured well, almost expertly. The melodies [here I mean their own individual identities, aside from what past they refer to] are not exactly exciting and moving - but they are mildly stirring, they cause a certain quickening of the pulse. There's something there. The guitar sound and the main motifs of the songs also seem to radiate a morbid French Black Legions influence and that's always welcome. Then there's the main "folk" melody throughout the eighth track, "Sargeist", which is just bizarre. Could Sargeist by trying to draw another line from their style to... the Polish or Russian bands?

While the hype typed/propped up by Moribund calls this an overwhelmingly "cold" album I never really interpret/feel it that way. Sure, the guitars sound chilly [boost the treble and reverb, hollow out the midrange, it's always the same] but the music in itself, the melodies, are almost happy at times [heresy!]... they are always sentimental or mawkishly nostalgic. Strange. In fact there are many parts on this album where... if the segments were just played with acoustic guitars you would be excused for thinking Sargeist was a wailing country band. I like it.

The best songs for me on this record are the first, the title track, which is so much like a blood-rousing anthem that it could be this band's "Transilvanian Hunger" [and is in my opinion the best song this band will ever write], the fourth, "Frowning, Existing", which might not be this band's work as it has a star next to the title on the back of the promo, although there isn't a footnote below to explain [it also sounds unlike the other songs, it's very catchy and pop-like, almost a punk tune], and then the last two tracks, the aforementioned eponymous eighth and then the ninth and final, which I referred to in the beginning of this review. Eight songs, four standout tracks, one intro that starts out well but then is mired in senselessness by an echoing scream that sounds like a bird having its feathers pulled out, and a little more than half an hour of entirely conventional black metal. Such is Sargeist's "Satanic Black Devotion". Enjoy.


Erebus Magazine

For Hardcore the Hardcore Only, - 90%

Borninfire, May 24th, 2010

I’ve read a lot of reviews on this album, and frankly I think it’s indicative of most black metal genius. Either people are going to try to classify it by stuffing it into another bands box ‘ala DarkThrone’ or claiming it noise. Other examples of this might be found in Ildjarn or Burzum.

The kind of filth manifested by Sargeist requires a special tonal distinction. You might not catch it the first time you play the record, you might not figure it out the first 10 times you listen to it, but play it on a good headset, allow yourself to relax and be taken in by the hate. It’s actually quite fantastic.

The riffing is fast, melodic, and in pure Finnish/Norwegian black metal roots heritage. I’ve been listening to DarkThrone for a lot of years now, and frankly I can’t understand how some people can put this in that box; other than this is crusty as fuck, indeed necro (which is in my opinion DarkThrone’s greatest claim to fame – lost in recent releases), aside from that – the riffing is completely different, the vocals are NOTHING like DarkThrone.

Whatever. I’m not going to turn this into a review of how ‘this shit isn’t DarkThrone’ – just wanted to address this for those of you who haven’t heard this album yet. It’s one of the finest pieces of necro black metal I’ve found. If you don’t try to find the beauty in this album, it’s your loss.

Every track on the album fucking screams tortured necro death and depression. Every track in my opinion fits perfectly with the album’s theme and overall assembly. I don’t have a favorite track; however I probably play Black Fucking Murder more than most, because the chorus fucking rocks.

Even with the thin production quality, the drums hit fucking hard, there's lots of punk rock influence here, a lot of stop and drumroll breaks reminiscent of DRI’s dirty Rotten LP or any other awesome hardcore album you can reference, (think Exploited drums on a methamphetamine bender). For examples, check out Panzergod.

The band’s melodic quality shines best in the track ‘Sargeist’ on this album. It’s absolutely heart wrenching. Dripping with anger and emotion. Regret, sorrow, hatred, ready to end it all. No Funeral. This is the real fucking deal.

Sargeist does a brilliant job breaking from blast-beats into a head banging steady rhythm that keeps me tapping my boot through the song at different rhythmically timed formations. It’s in many ways traditional shit, done better than most groups out there.

Everyone should try this one on. If it doesn’t fit, try again a few times before you give up. Its really a masterpiece.

Hail Satan.

Good album - 77%

tallhagillani, March 29th, 2010

Well as long as I can enjoy a band, I don't really give a shit whether they're original or not. Horna has been around for a while and is one of the better Finnish black metal bands and the main dude of this band is one of them and he has produced some good music on this album. Just to let you know that you will be hearing top notch black metal quality vocals on this album, fierce and loud just as they should be.

In this album you will find the atmosphere as it should be in a black metal release, it doesn't sound fake at all, The overall sound might sometimes remind you of the 90's Norwegian era which isn't a bad thing at all according to me. The vocals are really good, the atmosphere created by guitars is wicked, the only bad thing is that in some of the songs, half way through the songs become boring, at that stage vocals are the only things you can enjoy as musicianship becomes a bit monotonous which is generally the case with 90% of the black metal bands out there. The songs don't have to be too long, they would have been almost perfect if they were all around three and half minutes to four minutes long.

But by no means am I saying that this is a bad album because I love the vocals on this album and guitars have been used in the right way most of the times and drumming is complimenting the music really well.

Highlights: Even though the songs don't have connectivity with each other but it will be a good idea if you listen the whole album in one go, however Satanic Black Devotion, Frowning Existing, Glorification and Returning to Misery & Comfort are really good songs.

Freezing Melancholy - 93%

Noctir, January 17th, 2008

"Satanic Black Devotion" is the first full-length from the Finnish Black Metal band Sargeist, a side-project of Horna's guitarist/songwriter Shatraug. This is a great album. The production is good and follows closely to the standards set by the Norwegian scene of the early 90s. The melodies are very introspective and mournful at times. Each song has its own identity, that is, if you are actually familiar with raw Black Metal. The Darkthrone influence is obvious, yet it is unmistakenly Finnish. The melodies give it away, immediately. There is variation in tempo just where needed, and the mix of the vocals is flawless. The atmosphere is evil and melancholic. This is absolutely not over-produced and the drums are low in the mix, where they belong, and the focus is on guitar melodies.

The various songs maintain an identity of their own and flow together nicely. From the opener, "Satanic Black Devotion", to the closer, "Returning to Misery & Comfort", this album delivers everything you'd expect. Sargeist is one of the few decent Black Metal bands currently putting out quality material, and stand out as elite among the Finnish scene. This is vastly superior to Shatraug's main band, Horna.

A short intro gives the feeling of a ritual torturing and imbues the listener with a sense of dread. "Satanic Black Devotion" begins with tremolo riffs, blastbeats and high-pitches, raspy vocals. This album owes quite a bit to "Transilvanian Hunger", in my view, but does very well to stand on its own. The main riff of the title track is very mournful, and this atmosphere is maintained throughout the album. The pace does to change much during this first song.

"Obire Pestis" continues much like the opener, being fast-paced. "Frowning Existing" begins the same, but changes pace after a short time. This one features more mid-paced sections as well as a different, more tormented, vocalist. The melodies really stand out and by this point one can get a good sense of what the rest of the album will deliver. "Glorification" begins in a mid-paced manner, before speeding up like the rest. This was the first song I heard by this band, on a Moribund sampler and was the reason I checked them out in 2004. The title track is the one that hooked me and resulted in the album coming home with me.

"Panzergod" begins intensely, and open up the second half of the album well enough. This song is easily identifiable while still sounding like the rest. Sargeist have been so consistent with the songs that it will take something very remarkable to be worthy of standing above the rest. "Black Fucking Murder" features one of the catchier riffs on the album, during the chorus, and displays the same consistency that can be found throughout. This is the one that most people will probably gravitate toward.

I always dislike when a band names themselves after one of their songs (or vice versa) but, nevertheless, "Sargeist" is one of the best songs on the album. A morbid, depressive atmosphere is present at all times, as with the rest of the album. The melodies are epic while the execution is very minimalist. There is a very memorable, almost folky, riff that blends in seamlessly. This sort of thing I identify with Finland, for some reason. This song features a few more tempo changes than are found on other songs, which is a good thing to have so deep into the album. Very memorable riffs.

Finally, "Returning to Misery & Comfort" ends the album with, what I consider, the best song on here. This is cold and mournful. The song is fast-paced, but then shifts into a mid-paced riff that is very melancholic and introspective. The lyrics tell of cold hatred and sorrow for what has passed. Sargeist are very wise to begin the album with a strong track, but then to end with the two best ones on the album. This did a good job of making me look forward to the following release, "Disciple of the Heinous Path", which came out about a year after I discovered this band. The brilliant down-tempo riff that appeared earlier makes its return a couple more times and ends the album perfectly. It gives the feeling that everything is winding down and coming to an end. This is the point when sorrow and grief overtake the listener and the blood begins to flow...

Atmospheric Art - 100%

PaganWinter_44, August 27th, 2007

The first Sargeist album I heard was Disciples of the Heinous Path. When I heard that, I figured that Sargeist was another, cheap imitation of Darkthrone. Then, I decided to give them another chance by listening to Satanic Black Devotion. It was very different from anything I've heard. This is a lot more hypnotic than the bands that people compare them to.

The album opens up strong. The intro track is slow, eerie, and dark. There are many screams and whispers within the track. When you listen to this on headphones, it feels like the voices are revolving inside your head. It makes you think of walking through dark woods while your body is surrounded by tortured spirits. Then, the real ritual begins. The first real song hits you with a band, and in a second, you know that this is an original band.

The guitars are not so badly produced that it sounds like a swarm of bees. At the same time, they're not so well-produced that it would be popular in the mainstream. They are produced at a very happy median. They are raw enough to be dark and hateful. The chords being played are the incarnation of depression, darkness, and hatred.

The vocals are one of the most original aspects. They, like the guitars, are mastered in a way that makes them appear as if they're hidden under the music. They are not buried so that they can barely be heard, but they are not upfront in a way that drowns out everything. It is as if the vocals are coming from a spirit. This, once again, adds to the dark atmosphere.

This album was a very well-done work of art. It is obvious that this band not only paid careful attention to the music. They made sure that every aspect of this album, from the cover art to the production, would contribute to the atmosphere of the album.

Cut your wrists... - 100%

Gortician, October 5th, 2005

Sargeist is one of the many offsprings of the legendary Finnish Horna, this being a creation of Horna's main songwriter and guitarest Shatraug. After a few demos with him as the sole full-time member this is the first full length of Sargeist.
The opening track is of course the mandatory intro, which is very eerie chanting and sets the mood very well before plunging headlong into the title track, full of melancholic and murderous riffing and ultra sadistic screaming courtesy of Hoath Torog, also of another fantastic Finnish horde, Behexen. "Obire Pestis" is next, some great material here also, but song four, "Frowning, Existing" is surely worth a mention, I cannot even to begin to describe to hatred and anguish in the guitar work and especially the vocals (Sung here by Shatraug). It really sounds like he is in excruciating agony. Tracks 5 and 6 are good, but definitely not the highlights of "Satanic Black Devotion", but they are still decent filler songs revolving around the typical axis of Darkthrone/Maniac Butcher school of BM composition.
"Black Fucking Murder" is easily the highlight of the whole album and for me, its the ultimate Black Metal hymn ever written. In my ears it is truly perfect in every way. The atmosphere is so dark, hateful and full of dread that it has almost driven me to homocidal intentions. "Sargeist" follows, and brings with it the same atmosphere. Some great riffs to be heard here also, almost sounding folk influenced in parts. The final track is great finale for the album, and will truly leave you with a feeling of either murderous rage or impending doom. By the end of this opus, you'll either be scared out of your wits, or like me, horribly enthralled.
Over the past year I have become very fond of most of Finland's current BM movement, with this album being my most praised and one of the most important, both in my (reasonably vast) music collection and everyday life. I simply cannot live without it.
"Satanic Black Devotion" is a true spiked iron fist in the face of humanity, and it absolutely mandatory to anyone who craves utter grimness.

Pure Finnish Hatred - 75%

Perpetual_Winter, April 2nd, 2005

There is a soft spot in my heart for black metal in the house of Darkthrone. I have simply grown to love the atmosphere that minimalism sets. The press sheet on this album said, “The coldest black metal album since Darkthrone’s Under A Funeral Moon.” Well, I’d say that honor probably goes to the likes of their Finnish counterparts Clandestine Blazeor the now defunct USBM Judas Iscariot, but Sargeist does play some good black metal.

As with most minimalistic black metal releases the riffs are simple with only 2-4 different riffs per song, bass is nearly indiscernible with the thin production, and the drumming goes from a mid to fast pace blast to some rather punky beats (much like newer Darkthrone or newer Horna). What I feel makes this album a better listen than some of the minimalism out there is the tormented vocals (read a few of my reviews and you’ll know I like agonized screams). They may be mixed a little loud (Armagedda - Final War Approaching has the same problem), but its underground black true black metal so you don’t really expect much more.

One complaint I have about the album other than the mix is that some of the riffs strike me as kind of lame. One that really stood out is their use of a partial scale in the opening riff on Satanic Black Devotion. Also, I have to get a real kick out of them actually calling a song Black Fucking Murder (um… Nargarothanyone?). Overall, this album is a solid listen, but it’s far from essential. Personally, I’d pick it up for cheap or to support the great Moribund Records, but I’m not going to go terribly far out of my way.

Solid tortured bm... - 76%

Snxke, December 9th, 2004

Sargeist are among the better bands attempting to do "second wave" black metal stylings in the current devils market. Their "pissed-off-Darkthrone" double-kick is evenly produced and equally unrelenting. While spaced and listenable, the music itself is raw and the vocals tattered and torn with an acidic "blackness". It's not the most advanced songwriting in terms of pushing black metal to a new zenith, but it's a harsh reminder of what certain "painful" elements of black metal can do when combined with a strong set of musicians.

The opening track "Satanic Black Devotion" works much like the classic "Transilvanian Hunger" to set the mood for the CD and acts as it's centerpiece track. The Fenriz-on-crack drumming and tortured vocals/guitars make for a rather epic listening experience. While the rest of the CD isn't as strong as the title track the rest is quality black metal that fits a strong profile of darkness that fans of the coldest and harshest music might be able to enjoy. Not one track slips into poor craftsmanship, but no one track touches the rather memorable title track either. All in's good "black metal 101".

This is a must have for fans of anything Darkthrone inspired or anyone into "hypnotic" black metal of any kind. Sargeist are certainly more extreme than most of the Norse bands at this point and stand up well to the underground while being big enough to land in my zine's promotional bin. (You gotta have some attention to spare to send me stuff...) Sargeist are the real thing, even if just slightly less than legendary.

I say buy it...

Black Fucking Metal, the real deal here - 75%

speedemon86, February 24th, 2004

This is about as tr00 as it gets as far as more recent bands following the old approach goes. This will be a great addition to any BM collection, as long as you don't listen to faggoth *AHEM*. But ignoring the ignorance, let's proceed. Satanic Black Devotion has good, raw, thick production, without fucking with the coherency or the general conveyance of the music. Evil melodies plague this cd in accordance with most of the well-respected "classic" BM out there. If you actually pay attention, none of these songs are all that fast, the real tempo is in the guitars, and it's all around a medium fast range, similar to Darkthrone. Did I mention the EVIL melodies. I didn't think so.

These guys obviously have the right influences (like the aforementioned Darkthrone), the intro track "Prelidium" is a style that many BM bands have done, all derived from the intro to Celtic Frost's "Into The Crypt of Rays". The title track sets the rest of the album up. In my favorite track, "Black Fucking Murder", which besides being a general sentiment that would make most metalheads feel warm and fuzzy, has a guitar line around the chorus has a very rock feel in that you nod your head, and are reminded of the main riff for "Whole Lotta Love" without the syncopation.

No bad tracks, highlights are the title track, "Glorification", "Panzergod", "BLACK FVCKING MVRDER!!!!!", "Sargeist", and "Returning to Misery & Comfort".