Friday, January 7, 2011

Review: Sarcous - Sacred Scars (2010)

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Sacred Scars

Congealed in the wintry forests of western New York State, Sarcous is a melodic black metal band with a knack for creating sinister atmospheres within which to package their frozen brutality. Having released an EP and a four-track demo since coming together in 2004, Sarcous now delivers their debut full-length album Sacred Scars.

First and foremost, Sacred Scars is a black metal album frequented by tremolo riffing, clobbering double-kick, and screeching vocals. On top of that foundation, however, Sarcous builds a layered cathedral of sound through their use of well-placed melodies, interesting solos, and intricate beat patterns. "Jaws of Leviathan", with its haunting Gothic-styled piano, and the Middle Eastern tinged "Lost, Bound, And Never Found" underscore the band members' ability to infuse elements of melody without sacrificing the harsh aggressiveness that the genre demands. "At Dusk", a track that features plenty of thrashy riffs, the band employs some very un-cheesy effects to pay a blackened homage to their love of motorcycles. A bit of a non-traditional divergence, but Sarcous makes it work.

The two six-stringers, Bryan Rague and Eric Quartaro, play a crucial role in setting Sarcous apart from the black metal hordes. Their combined talent and sense of riff structure, not to mention their exceptional leads and solos, gives the songs - and Sacred Scars as a whole - real staying power. The instrumental "A Summons to the Gathering" finds Rague and Quatraro delivering soulful solos atop melodic tremolo and is a highlight of the disc. Of course, the album wouldn't be as multi-dimensionally potent without Matthew Mitrovits' throat-ripping vocal performance and Sno's intricate fury behind the kit.

"Of Famine, Darkness and Sword", the lengthy track which closes Sacred Scars, best illustrates the cohesiveness that marks Sarcous as a band to watch out for. If you are at all interested in black metal that balances atmosphere with fury, then do yourself a favor and seek out this fine debut.

Sacred Scars can be purchased online at Hells Headbangers.

Track Listing
1Stiletto and the Nightmare1:15
2Feast of the Vultures3:49
3Jaws of Leviathan4:43
4At Dusk3:35
5Lost, Bound, and Never Found5:03
6A Summons to the Gathering2:46
8Oceans Rise4:47
9Of Famine, Darkness and Sword9:25
Total Runtime38:54

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