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Released: 2011, Self Released
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Birmingham certainly seems to be the dark heart of the Midlands – and I don’t say that as someone who has stared into the cold eyes of a local and wondered what lies beneath (because Brummies are lovely people) – but because this particular geographical location seems to keep throwing up folks of a certain disposition.
Most famously of course this means Black Sabbath – and presumably their home city was the inspiration for that sense of doom – but also in the line-up are Rob Halford, and Barney Greenway from Napalm Death. Oh and Richard Hammond - now tell me there isn’t something in the water. The point is old Brum has only gone and done it again with Sarpanitum – a four-piece death metal band with a blackened crust like someone has taken a flamethrower to their sound. Or re-wired the toaster wrong.
It’s been some years since the release of the band’s debut album Despoilment Of Origin, and when you’re just starting out these kind of long breaks can mean back to square one, starting over, or just finito. And yet right now remember Sarpanitum’s name may be hovering at the edge of your memory. This would be largely down to the fact that Despoilment Of Origin was so positively received that fans of death metal haven’t been able to stop clamouring for a follow up.
A four-track EP is perhaps not quite what they had in mind, but with a second album on the go as well, Fidelium serves as the perfect bridge between what was before and what will come. As with Despoilment Of Origin, Fidelium puts its spin on belief systems – this time from the First Crusade as opposed to ancient mythology. It also shows Sarpanitum as having progressed even in inactivity, as whilst the band still sound the spokespiece for a world that both worships and fears its gods, they do so with the air of having expanded their horizons.
So whilst Fidelium is a fast-paced hulk of an EP with colossal crushing riffs and low guttural vocals, the atmospheric touches and considered composition make it more than a lesson in nuclear-scale destruction. That said you may still want to consider filing a battery charge against the pulsating drumbeat of ‘None Shall Receive’, which also glories in its guitar-work as though unleashing something long pent up. The atmospheric end of will-crush-on-demand ‘Before The Walls’ leads nicely into the instrumental ‘Fidelium’, which consists of a sinister mix of choral echoes and the measured breathing of something mightier than man. Or Darth Vader on a cold morning.
It’s a sombre moment, and one that could have signalled the end, but instead the slow echoing rings of ‘Santus Incendia’ chime in, before being quickly outpaced by the domineering drums and technical flourishes of the second guitar. It’s also one of the best damned examples of how versatile a growling vocal can be in terms of portraying different emotions.
If you’re a fan of death metal you won’t need much of an open mind to like Fidelium, and if this is your first introduction to Sarpanitum, well aren’t you lucky. Let’s just hope that whatever is in the waters at Birmingham stays there. Even if it means the odd Richard Hammond and Duran Duran.
Interview by Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs
1. None Shall They Receive
2. Before The Walls
4. Santus Incendia
Tom Hyde: Lead Guitars/Composition
Tom Innocenti: Vocals/Composition
Luke Archer: Rhythm Guitar
Vic Lochab: Bass
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