Sarcolytic - Thee Arcane Progeny (2010)
What is it with musicians? Is it that there really are so few of them actually willing to get off their arses and do something, or are they just the insular, incestuous bunch they appear? Yet again a band comes from left field (granted, they did so at the beginning of the year, but this blog didn't exist then) to totally side-swipe me, only for me to find out that it's another fucking supergroup!
After a fashion anyway: Sarcolytic come strutting like the technical death metal aficionados they are, boasting members of Images of Violence and Disgorge. Unlike either of these two bands however, Sarcolytic is not just another moniker preceding the standard brutal-death assault which - while I love - we've all heard a thousand times. Sarcolytic take a darkly Sci-Fi tinged, lyrical approach to a sound which while being both heavy as fuck and technical as bastardry is tinged with elements of black metal in the form of complex open chords which break up technical yet catchy riffing. Particularly apparent on the title track and Emissary, its appearance on the latter also demonstrates some excellent interplay between the guitars and Denton's almost jazzy bass that adds another layer to an already complex, yet well constructed track. This is not to say that there's a lack of pace on this release; at times reminiscent of their technical US counterparts, at others sporting an almost melodic dissonance more usually found on more 'necro' releases, Sarcolytic combine these influences in a manner that is, if not always particularly original, certainly very well executed and incredibly memorable.
There is, in contrast to Disgorge and IoV, a distinct influence from the mainstream of death metal here - there are elements of Nile, Behemoth et al, all of whom have flirted to some degree with the blackened sound - but Sarcolytic manage to make their moments of grimness seem fresh. I'm not sure whether it is the Disgorge-inspired brutality preceding them or whether that in tracks so full of complicated, technical mastery, these sections come as a welcome focal point to make the tracks instantly distinguishable from their predecessors. Whatever it is: it fucking works. Furthermore, it serves to remove any doubt that this is a band in its own right - this isn't some second-rate Disgorge tribute.
I can see why some fans of Disgorge and Images of Violence may not immediately warm to this release. That being said, not only is the guitar work mind-fuckingly technical and gratifyingly varied, the bass both expertly played and mixed, old-school vocals thanks to John Zig; guttural and complimentary - all held together with amazingly tight drumming which up the feel of brutality without dominating the track - not only do Sarcolytic do all of this, but at the same time create a truly dark atmosphere which sucks you in to both the music and the lyrical expositions as well. Building on what they'd already proved themselves doing; these guys have forged their own musical identity.