Holy Mary sweet mother of Jesus Christ this is one of the most unnerving covers I have ever seen! Ranks up there with DARKTHRONE's "Under A Funeral Moon". Coincidence or not the idea is similar on both occasions, here it's just not Dead's skull, but obviously a human skull anyway. Pure f*cking evil I tell you. That's enough already to raise my interest! SARGEIST (means Coffin-Spirit) is a sort of who's who of Finnish Black Metal featuring members from HORNA, PEST and BEHEXEN (supergroups, they're spawning everywhere and apparently in every genre nowadays…).
Right from the start I can tell you that if you don't like Black Metal ala DARKTHRONE you might as well skip this without even hesitating. But those with a liking for cold, grim and evil Black Metal will find utter bliss with this release. Why? Because this is like "Transylvanian Hunger" part II that's why!
The intro "Preludium" with it's gloomy screaming set the mood for the onslaught that lies ahead. And when the title track is unleashed you know you're in for a cold ride. Melodic guitars (again, the DARKTHRONE-type) churning out cold evil riffs. Barely decipherable drums apart from the double bass battering and the hi-hats. The vocals are simply out of this world. Shatraug screams with such agony and devotion it really makes me feel uneasy. Add to that the small mastering gimmick that makes his voice sort of echo as if he was in a cave and you're really done for it. This is evil in it's purest form!
Basically that is what you will find on the other tracks as well, yet no track sounds exactly like the last one. Some songs are a bit faster and straightforward (like "Obire Pestis" and "Panzergod") and others are a bit slower ("Returning To Misery & Comfort") but never forgetting those nice melodies. There are even some riffs that are close to being Folkish in nature ("Panzergod", "Black Fucking Murder"). After all we are dealing with what started out as a one-man project of HORNA's Shatraug so one can expect elements from there. And talk about the atmosphere! So nihilistic, so cold it's covering everything here in ice and freezing my blood. SARGEIST have managed to capture the essence of the icy cold vastness of the Arctic wastes. Man, I can just feel my soul flying straight to Hell after attending to this Black mass!
Basically one might say that these songs, or hymns, are of the same quality, if not even better than the ones on "Transylvanian Hunger" and to tell you the truth I could somewhat agree with that person. The musicianship is better, there's way more melodies to be found and the songs are more thought-out on the whole but "Hunger" is still in a class of it's own and has a totally unique atmosphere and mystery wrapped around it that SARGEIST haven't reached so I'll just say they came close, but no cigar. On the other hand "Satanic Black Devotion" beats every DARKTHRONE release after "Panzerfaust", and dude, that's a HUGE compliment!
"Satanic Black Devotion" is one of the grimmest Black Metal albums conceived in the last years and with it SARGEIST have certainly earned themselves a seat alongside the Horned One. Based on this album alone I am sure to hunt down and devour every single release this band has yet to offer.
Onward, proud disciples of Satan!
What are you waiting for? Go buy this NOW! (Online September 10, 2003)