After a few years of relative dormancy, the long-awaited third full-length by Finland’s legendary SARGEIST finally saw the light of day late last year, and I will say right off the bat that it has shattered my admittedly high expectations in every single way. Not only is “Let The Devil In” the best album released under the SARGEIST banner, but it is my own personal favourite disc of 2010. Before this album dropped it was a three-way battle between the new MAIDEN, IHSAHN and KEEP OF KALESSIN albums, but after spending a few days with this album it has shot straight to the top of my list. Yep, I love this album.
Last year was not a particularly bad year for Black Metal but “Let The Devil In” easily takes a big dump over all other recent entries from a mightily high altitude. No, these guys are not the most revolutionary blasphemers on the block – this is straight-up meat ‘n’ potatoes BM all the way – but they know exactly how to craft a high class traditional Black Metal song that carries just the right balance between tasteful melody and the requisite rawness. This should come as no surprise considering the inimitable Shatraug’s (HORNA) impeccable skills at crafting some of the genre’s best riffs, and Hoath Torog’s vitriolic (and flawless) vocal style. Simply put, “Let The Devil In” is the product of a well-oiled machine.
There is something to be said about this band’s uncanny ability to take a sound that is ostensibly old news by now and making it sound as fresh and vital as ever. If left in the hands of a lesser band this could very well have been a case of flogging a dead horse, but no – what we have here is a resuscitation of said proverbial horse. Opener “Empire Of Suffering” is a prime example of this; those riffs and melodies wouldn’t be unfamiliar with any HORNA or BEHEXEN fan and yet it sounds so goddamn good and energetic that I can’t help but smile. Capturing a vibe that is as sombre and forlorn as it is catchy, “Empire...” gets the album off to a flyer, and from there the highlights just keep a comin’. You get fast-paced numbers like “As Darkness Tears The World Apart,” and the title track (the latter featuring near Thrash riffage during the chorus parts), a slew of icy cold though undeniably melodic numbers (“From The Black Coffin Lair,” “Discovering the Enshrouded Eye”), and even something like “Twilight Breath Of Satan” – a slow and surprisingly uplifting mini epic.
There really isn’t a single dud among the album’s ten tracks and this, coupled with the perfect flow of the songs, the tight performances, and an excellent production job that is neither too polished nor too lo-fi makes “Let The Devil In" one of the best true Black Metal albums of the last few years. A stunning piece of work!
(Online February 12, 2011)