Release DetailsLABEL N/A
RELEASED ON 7/23/2005
Sermons of Anguish
posted on 8/2005 By:
Missouri’s Harkonin play blackened thrash, or thrashy black metal, whichever tag suits you. The band does not presume to offer anything groundbreaking to the scene, but with Sermons of Anguish they have indeed crafted a strong album which is worth a listen or two if you are interested in black metal, particularly the sub genre that they belong to. After a fitting introduction featuring drums and battle noises (an intro concept that has admittedly been used before), the first thing which will probably strike the listener is the warlike nature of the music; the tempo is steady, like that of a march, and there is a triumphant, commanding tone to the music. Admittedly, this description is annoyingly abstract, but it is the only one that fits. Harkonin produce driving riffs that evoke the feeling of movement, particularly the mobilization of a military force. The thunderous low end is like pounding artillery, while the treble of the guitars suggests strafing machine guns. While the lyrics are not exclusively about warfare, the general atmosphere is.
The songwriting on this release is above average and enjoyable. The band comes up with some extremely catchy riffs, and being that this is thrash-oriented, it’s a rare chance to hear grooves in black metal. Even though the level of musicianship is pretty high, the band manages to maintain a raw, organic feel, and there are even moments of punky riffing, reminding me of the Nattefrost disc that I reviewed. Usually I can get the feel of an album on my first listen, but I initially misjudged Sermons of Anguish, mistaking it for merely mediocre. In essence, the arrangements sound simple, but more thought goes into them than is immediately obvious the first time through. Often, sections which are not very technical are punctuated by complex riffs that take the listener by surprise, and the juxtaposition makes both parts seem more interesting.
As I have mentioned, the musicianship is strong on Sermons of Anguish, and each member of the band contributes, with catchy, thrashy guitar riffs, thumping low end bass, varied, interesting drum patterns, and a worthy vocalist with a commanding rasp. This was mastered by Colin Davis of Vile, who generally does a great job, and the production is pretty good, though the guitar parts could benefit from a meatier tone. Then again, it’s black metal, and I’m sure that the production style was intentional.
I would describe this album as very good, though not quite great. If you’re into the style I’m sure that you’ll find something of interest, but don’t expect perfection. Harkonin is still a fledgling outfit with a ways to go before they become required listening for fans of black metal. What I see in them is a good deal of potential. According to Harkonin’s website, the band is already working on new material, and I’ll enjoy hearing that. Check it out and see what you think.
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