Hmmm...judging from the Alex and Mathieu's 3/10 and 1.5/10 reviews (respectively) of RED HARVEST's two preceding albums, I was a bit sceptical when putting "Sic Transit..." into my player. Then again, Alex gave ARTROSIS' "Fetish" a 6/10, which is one of my favourite Industrial/Gothic albums, so the matter of personal taste must be taken into account, and it just so happens that RED HARVEST have captured my fancy on "Sic Transit...". So allow me to invert this RED HARVEST-hating trend we have going here. I'm always up for hearing bands that take a totally unique slant on well-established musical avenues, which RED HARVEST certainly do and then some...
"Sic Transit Gloria Mundi" bristles with layers of groove-laden Death/Black Metal, stark ambience, and accentuating digital samples, sounding somewhere between NINE INCH NAILS and a much slower ABORYM, with a drolly-placed melodic fragment here and there for good measure. The basis of their formula is definitely atmospheric Death/Black Metal, but they give it a generous amount of groove and catchiness so as to make it accessible to those who value such things in their Metal (I do, except if the band is called ATHEIST). What stands out most on this album is the band's legerdemain with foreboding atmospherics, they are spellbinding! "AES" contains a repeating chord progression reminiscent of the apocalyptic fade-out on NEUROSIS' "Aeon," which definitely rubs my gonads the right way. Mind you, they sound nothing like NEUROSIS, but they do have an analogous ability to create a certain magnetic tension through simple repetition.
I'm confused as to whether they programmed the drums or if it's a real drummer (a drummer is listed in the credits). Either way, the rhythm section is impeccable, and the sterile production gives it all a suitably harsh, mechanical vibe. The mental vistas this album invokes for me are almost suffocating at times, especially when played through a good set of headphones. The vocals sound, to me, nearly identical to those found on ZYKLON's "World Ov Worms," very "processed," but equally gruff, and perfectly suited for such music. The riffs are masterfully written and executed, working around the cold, heavily-sampled keyboard tones with sheer finesse and panache. A thick, choppy doom riff here, a bitter, melodic build there, before arriving at a preternatural state of wraithlike digital ambience. All of these details are pulled off without ever becoming ostentatious.
A truly astounding combination of dynamic breaks/builds and balls-out heaviness, and a very layered, deep album, perfectly suited for the headphone experience. Perhaps its modernized slant on the Death/Black Metal formula will be a turn-off to some, but those with a hankering for something fresh, unique, and involving, by all means, check this out pronto! (Online January 24, 2003)