The seemingly endless supply of miniscule EPs, splits, and what have you, has no doubt kept many an appetite whetted for SABBAT throughout releases from the more productive temptations of Japan's fucking excellent Black/Thrash scene. Eight years on from “Karmagmassacre” the beer-sodden shoguns of Blackened Thrash thuggery are finally back on full-length form. This time around they're almost as obsessed with witches as ABIGAIL were with bitches on “Sweet Baby Metal Slut”, and they're sounding indestructible.
Nine roaring tracks of caustic, pacey VENOM-mutating-into-SLAYER Thrash chaos comprise SABBATrinity, along with an excellent instrumental outro. True to the hysterical, totally unmixed and raw vinyl vomitings that were SABBAT's Demonslaught series of EPs, the album is almost exclusively hurriedly paced, Thrashing speed Metal with strangled vocals. Searingly fast Thrash riffs pulsate roughly over throbbing bass lines, and the drums thump wetly along at breakneck pace. Uncouth rasps and piercing shrieks spew basic choruses, the song titles yelled, bawled, grotesquely wretched forth and so on.
To many an outsider, the exaggerated VENOM-from-Japan imagery and general craziness of SABBAT's appearance, playing style, band members and recording habits (it goes on) might give the impression the band is fucking about. The outsiders can stay right there on the outside. The level of musicianship throughout this 40 minutes of frantic, rip-roaring Metal is great. The solos throughout the album, on “Thrash Metal Scythe”, “Total Destruction” and “Karmagmassacre”, are some of the best from the band yet, managing to be both expressive and exhilarating in true NWOBHM form, racing elaborately over the rapid, rambling bass guitar bashing. The bass, much like the drumming, is uncomplicated, but the synergy amongst band members can be heard loudly given the album's basic production values.
Which brings me to what makes this album as perfect as it could be for the hungry SABBAT fan, who considers the output of the syphilitic samurais throughout their career to have been consistently and significantly better than anything from Venom in the last two decades. It's the sound of the album, the spacious mix with room aplenty for the rumbling bass and snarling guitar leads to complement each other, that makes it a slice of pure old school win. While clearly having had more funds and time available for this than they had for anything recorded since ”Karmagmassacre”, SABBAT shun anything that might make them sound even remotely modern, anything that would upgrade or evolve their sound to even the late '80s, never mind any decade after. It's all for a cause. Stick modern production values on something like “Root Of Ultimate Evil” or the fast-chugging Thrash of “Witch's Torches”, use vocals that are anything but intoxicated slurs, and it would lose everything that makes it so totally badass. SABBAT's methods of recording and mixing (such as they are) allow the actual Metal to do the talking, not studio wizardry and wankery.
Meanwhile the 40 minutes here, like many an album I hear that's not overlong, seems to be heaving with highlights. In general, the quality and memorableness of the songs is better than on original recordings since ”Karmagmassacre”. Particularly, “Thrash Metal Scythe” is one of the fucking best SABBAT songs I've heard, easily one of their best recordings since the early '90s. Gezol roaring "brrakk metarr scythe!!" is priceless and timeless, straight from the '80s - it's that simplistic, and too awesome to be from these troubled years. While referencing '80s speed and Thrash most heavily, the faithful SABBAT are more like latter-day DARKTHRONE in their fierce dedication to all that is old and hoary. “Karmagmassacre” is a climactic finish, vocals viler than ever, a cacophony of jagged, howling leads and riffs from Damiazell as well as a fist-pumping solo... it's the best track on here, even beating out “Thrash Metal Scythe.”
Like ”Envenom”? ”Evoke”? ”Disembody”? ”Fetishism”? Anything else by these nutcases? You need ”SABBATrinity”. It picks up from ”Karmagmassacre” and does everything that and previous albums did (notwithstanding the epic and doomed leanings of ”The Dwelling” and some of the more samurai Metal moments on ”Karisma”, etc) It is one of those very rare albums, by a long-running band with a dedicated - if cult - following, that I really can't see disappointing a single one of their fans. Rendering this entire review pointless. If you like SABBAT, you're getting this. Many listens in and it's becoming one of my favourites by the band.
(Online January 13, 2012)