Here’s another band that was introduced to me by Sophus. Actually, he only reminded me of this album, since I’m pretty sure I’ve run across these guys while looking through Nuclear War Now!‘s bandcamp page. Anyways, Sacriphyx are a black/thrash band. From Australia. I don’t need to do the math for you (black/thrash + Australia = probably really damn good). They’ve apparently been floating around since 2007, but this is their first album after a demo and a couple of splits. Upon being reminded of this band’s existence and the impending release of The Western Front, I went and listened to all their previous material. From those releases, I realized that Sacriphyx had a lot promise to live up to on this release. Thankfully they manage to surpass my expectations here.
The Western Front is very much a thematic album. By which I mean the lyrical subject is mostly singular and really drives the direction of the music. As you can surmise from the album title and cover, this is all about the western front of World War I. The atmosphere that Sacriphyx seem to be trying to create here is one of both aggression and sorrow, capturing the sorrow of the pointless mass slaughter of an entire generation, while also maintaining the ferocity of war.
Unlike Bolt Thrower, the focus of this album is not pounding aggression but rather overwhelming oppression. The riffs are pretty much all mid-paced Australian black/thrash riffs, but the production gives them a weird jagged quality that is slightly strange but all the more captivating. The sorrow of WWI musically comes through in the form of the melodic leads woven throughout the entire album. The leads range from slower, atmospheric solos to fast shredding. Even without the lyrics the sorrow and horror of WWI comes through all to clear.
One last thing; I really love the lyrics on this album. Yeah yeah metal has covered the horrors of war many times over, but the stark reality of these lyrics, the lack of any glorification, of heroics, or of any triumphs mark this album. Seriously, these lyrics are graphic and depressing:
Draped over the trench, a bloated and sickening corpse
Staring down from above with its leering vacant eyes
Its mouth slightly ajar, perhaps in a mocking smirk
Its skin seems alive with a hundred flies
Ultimately, this album is amazing. One of my absolute favorites of this year. Every song is amazing (yes, even the acoustic ballad), and every song contributes to the rest of the album as a whole. Far more than the sum of its parts, even though all the parts are amazing. The whole thing is streaming over at NWN!’s bandcamp page, so go give it a listen.
On a scale of Pantera to Iron Maiden, I give this album a Running Wild.