SARCOPTES – Prayers To Oblivion

SARCOPTES – Prayers To Oblivion



The “Plague Hyms”²⁰²⁰ EP, released after “Thanatos”²⁰¹³ EP and “Songs And Dances Of Death”²⁰¹⁶ full length, was a fantastic 2 track release I gave an enthusiastic review (5.5/6) even as Garrett Garvey (drums, vocals) and Sean Zimmerman (bass, guitars, keyboards) the duo comprising the Californian progressive blackthrashing death metal act Sarcoptes (named after a genus of mites) were recording their second album. I was totally taken by how these two men melded three genres: black, thrash and death while writing, essentially, extreme heavy metal songs full of twists and turns, ebbs and flows, all with a crushing powerful production (Zack Ohren) and with more melody and hooks you can shake a stick at. It smacked of a heavy metal internal revolution where my beloved U.S. would dictate again the rules of the game the way Chuck Schuldiner did back in 1987 with his little Mantas project he’d later smartly rename Death. And even though “Prayers To Oblivion” is not quite up to par with the phenomenon that was the aforementioned EP, it is still a very good premonition of that revolution which is to come on either the third or fourth LP.

Listening to jawdropping precision, hooks and relentless speed of “The Trenches” with its apt militaristic flavor embodied by every war veteran’s everywhere mantra “Why did we suffer so long ago/Who will remember what we fought for?” interwoven with Deathly harmonies circa “Spiritual Healing” while echoying AC/DC “Hell’s Bells” bells one can’t help but think of Sarcoptes as Emperor’s worthy successor, what with that repetitive “Curse You All Men!” neoclassical buzzing larger than life riffs, and the wham, bam, thank you, ma’am (to borrow from Dean Martin) of “Spanish Flu” where the command of the on a dime small yet significant changes reminds me of a waltz, then followed by the slowly unravelling collosus “Dead Silence” evoking comparisons to harmony of “Into The Nightside Eclipse”, “Storm Of The Light’s Bane/The Somberlain” Dissection or “Cruelty And The Beast” Cradle Of Filth only to plunge into a morose funeral doom (as we add a fourth genre to the table) slow as a fly in molasses, courtesy of gargantuan monolithic My Dying Bridian dirge-conclusion. And that’s both already a half of the album and its best feature.

The second half, that is, the remaing two tracks on the 5 track release, may not generate that same awe due to either “Tet” being generally a Slayer and Exodus worship without the intricacies of the shorter “Spanish Flu” or the closing whopping 14+ minute “Massacre At My Lai” utilizing a vintage “Load” Metallica riff for about a half of its duration, but its other half is, again, as masterful as Death’s “Symbolic”. And then it’s over.

“Prayers To Oblivion” feels too short, it feels like an EP despite exceeding 50 minutes and that 3/5 tracks each exceed 13 minutes of individual length. It feels that way because “Prayers To Oblivion” is disappointing against both the best it has to offer and its immediate predecessor. Compared to the EP, there’s a lot less melody and pace changes while the symphonic layers of keyboard atmospherics sometimes seem forced or as an afterthought to a riff or a melody. But a disappinting Sarcoptes album still deserves no less than 5/6 because Sarcoptes maintains what I hinted at in my previous review of their work, that new standard for black, thrash and death metal set with “Plague Hymns”: inventive, creative, volatile and varied, powerful but, most of all, consistently fun to listen to, so what it richly deserves it gets because, like that first indictment of Donald Trump, the Sarcoptes revolution is coming we just have to patiently await it with baited breath at the edge of our seats.

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