Released: 2013, Code666 Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
If you’re already familiar with their work, it seems there isn’t a great deal you can say about Belgium’s Saille (correct pronunciation Sahl-Yeh,) which hasn’t been said before. Having constantly drawn comparison to bands such as Emperor, this symphonic black metal outfit certainly raised the bar for the proponents of the sound today with their first full length, ‘Irreversible Decay’ and here have done so again with the soon to be unveiled ‘Ritu’.
Upon first play, I was instantly struck by the seemingly effortless blend of intense, Marduk-like aggression coupled with subtle symphony - superbly structured – undoubtedly to give reprieve and a sense of respite but then immediately you are stabbed in the gut by sublime blast-beat, tremolo-picked fury and dragged back down to the icy pits of hell, and it’s a wonderful feeling. With album opener ‘Blood Libel,’ the tone set is a feeling of apprehensive terror, a tone which chimes for the duration but manages not to get lost through familiarity. Whether this is due in part to the symphonic undertones which provide that balance, or due to the fact that this is a superbly crafted body of work, set forth by what are clearly some extremely talented musicians, I will let you decide.
Formed in Ghent in 2008 by keyboard player and songwriter Dries Gaerdelen, Saille have set about creating a threatening, bludgeoning form of black metal, which though firmly rooted in the dark, glorious past of the genre, is not afraid to take things forward to new levels of depraved cacophony. With ‘Ritu’ I believe they have executed this perfectly. Neither too rough in sound nor too clinical, the finely layered guitars resound with utmost intensity whilst Gert Monden’s drums alternate between keeping a blistering pace and laying low under more atmospheric parts. All the while Dennie Grondelaers vocal approach, while nothing new, is everything you would hope for from a band so rooted in traditional black metal values. Known for using real instruments (as opposed to samples) to create their sound, the orchestration is dark and understated rather than theatrical (or even comical,) something which has been missing of late but in my eyes is very welcome to return. By the time we reach the second half of the album we are treated to slow, brooding instrumental piece ‘A Titan’s Sacrifice’ (recalling the bleaker parts of the Alien soundtrack) which again works to offset the slightly more Dimmu-influenced ‘Haunter Of The Dark.’ It is a masterful contradiction of sounds.
If there has been a lull in the genre of late, we can only hope that Saille are ready to grab the guttering torch of symphonic black metal, bend it to their will and shove it back into corpse-painted faces. I can only hope they will be playing a venue nearby sometime soon, because if their live performance matches the quality of the material and production found in ‘Ritu,’ Saille will be set to rise to great heights and further earn their name uttered in the same sentence as bands such as Emperor.
Review by Kevin Griffiths