Sawhill Sacrifice - Pimeyteen ja kuolemaan - (7.5/10)
Published on December 12, 2017
Pimeyteen ja kuoleman is the third full length album from Finish black metal troupe Sawhill Sacrfice. Recently signed to Polish label Wolfspell Records, the band is a bit of an anomaly in the Wolfspell catalog, a label usually associated with top notch atmospheric black metal (Hermóðr and Kalmankantaja immediately come to mind). Rather than lush atmospherics and homages to nature, Sawhill Sacrifice comes out swinging with an aggressive and hard to categorize sound, despite being firmly rooted in the realms of blackened metal (with Rob Darken of Graveland contributing an intro and some keyboards to boot).
The production on Pimeyteen ja kuoleman is quite remarkable; with crisp, clear guitars and a professional, punchy sound to the rhythm section. Most of the band’s sound offers running double bass rhythms while fiery tremolo riffing whips circles and the caustic, throaty screams drip venom. Rather than focus on cold, second wave black metal, the band offers plenty of outside influences to create a rather sweeping, and often captivating sound; most notably in the form of sweeping keyboard passages and somewhat modern-tinged extreme metal movements. Take “Kosmos”, one of the more diverse tracks on the album, as it begins with some really forced clean vocals amid slow moving bass notes and rollicking percussion (that sounds surprisingly gothic-y) until melodically charged trem riffing and sweeping, orchestral keyboards take over, eventually giving way to blasting and fiery, rapid paced maelstroms of trem riffing. The majority of the album plays through in a similar fashion, moving from fast-paced black metal into a more keyboard-driven sound with occasional dips into modernity.
Though the focus remains on driving, and quite riffy, black metal, the band’s genre salad approach tends to leave little breathing room. Eschewing the black metal typically associated with their country, Sawhill Sacrifice offer something that resides between driving, second wave worship and the blackened extreme metal of late. The musicianship is top notch, despite a few choppy transitions, some force cleans and chants, and the vocalist sounding like a choking crow when hitting the higher screams, and the full-bodied, crisp production allows everything to shine in place. Perhaps with a more singular focus Sawhill Sacrifice could be a force to be reckoned with, but Pimeyteen ja kuoleman remains a little too all over the place to truly leave its mark. Regardless, there’s plenty to enjoy here and black metal fans searching for an interesting take on the genre should dig in as soon as they can.