Reviewed: June 2018
Released: 2018, Transcending Obscurity Records
Rating: 4 / 5
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
“Sadistik Forest” sounds like the kind of moniker that might come up if you mess around on the Metal Band Name Generator website for a few minutes – indeed, I got “Sinful Forest” and “Vulgar Thorns” in a couple of tries just a minute ago. It’s kinda spooky, but also kinda silly, like the band might just be taking the piss. Or not.
But all it takes is a passing listen to this Finnish quartet to realize they definitely are in the “or not” category. The band’s third album, and first in six years, is jarringly heavy and boasts the kind of thunderous, malevolent tone that recalls the likes of Immolation, Dismember, Cannibal Corpse or Bolt Thrower – none of whom are renowned for their levity.
The surging death metal on Morbid Majesties is powered by the absolutely titanic riffs of Antti Heikkinen and Matti Salo, who prove as imposing a tandem as there is here. The pair come out swinging with “Morbidly Majestic” and just don’t stop as they ride atop the galloping tempos of Vesa Mutka, letting up only for some squealing lead tradeoffs or crunching hooks, as on chunky/doomy “The Hour of Dread” or “Monsters of Death.” It’s nothing terribly fancy, but god damn is it heavy.
The crisp, clean recording and huge sound here only maximizes the bludgeon – and is a welcome change from the uber-abrasive Swe-death tone that has become such a crutch and grown so tiresome. Morbid Majesties minimizes the grit but maximizes the heft – and that is a trade I’ll take any day.
That’s not to say there’s a shortage of gnarliness found here. Au contraire. But most of it comes from the ragged throat of bassist/vocalist Markus Makkonen (ex of Hooded Menace) whose phlegmy, low-end growls and raspy shrieks are effectively Corpsegrinder-esque.
Morbid Majesties rumbles along mightily, yet efficiently much of the way through, doling out its concussive death metal in three-ish minutes bursts with little in the way of dramatics or fanfare, to the point where it starts to feel a bit one dimensional. But the band do an epic about-face with the finale “Bones of a Giant,” which lives up to is name over a heaving, chugging 9-plus minute romp that offers some of the biggest riffs on an album already loaded with them. It’s an awesome end that caps the album in truly grand style, proving once and for all that Sadistik Forest are no laughing matter.