Seeing as how my hometown is currently in the firm grip of what has to be one of the harshest winters in aeons I deemed it appropriate to pop in some music that would match the bitching cold raging outside. I didn’t pick IMMORTAL, for once, but instead opted for some quality time with “Far Away From The Sun”, the legendary, if oft overlooked full-length debut by Sweden’s SACRAMENTUM. Boy, what an inspired choice if I dare say so myself...
If you think that Blackened Death Metal begins and ends with DISSECTION, then think again. SACRAMENTUM seriously dropped the (snow) ball with “The Coming Of Chaos” and “Thy Black Destiny”, but on “Far Away From The Sun” they really delivered the goods on all fronts. Icy cold, wonderfully melodic, yet still raw and aggressive - this is a brilliant slice of atmospheric Black/Death Metal, the kind that could only have been birthed in the frost-licked Scandinavian wilderness. Not to take anything away from DISSECTION, but this album easily matches anything Jon and co. came up with during the 90s. As far as album openers go “Fog’s Kiss” is just about the perfect way to start an album like this, blasting forth from the get-go with powerful drumming, blackened rasps and subzero melodies that bring to mind glorious snowstorms and biting gale-force winds, instantly transporting you to that gloomy castle that adorns the cover art. It’s brilliant stuff, and it’s great to hear such epic forlorn melodies and harsh music continue to exist in perfect harmony throughout the album. Tracks like the “Where Dead Angels Lie”-esque “When Night Surrounds Me” and “Cries From A Restless Soul” continue this dynamic in fine form, while “Beyond All Horizons” sees a gentle little keyboard intro segue smoothly into a what is a depressive sounding number awash in subtle tempo changes. These are my personal favourites but there really isn’t anything on here that even approaches filler variety.
Like I said earlier, this is the only SACRAMENTUM album you need. Its home to all their most memorable riffs, melodies and ideas, and undoubtedly one of the essential Swedish albums of its kind together with DISSECTION’s “Storm Of The Light’s Bane” and DAWN’s “Slaughtrersun (Crown Of The Triarchy)”.
(Online July 30, 2009)