In terms of regional USBM scenes, it seems like most people’s attention stays focused on the coasts: the riff-centric NYC/Brooklyn scenes, the Cascadian scene in the Pacific Northwest, San Francisco’s post-black scene, whatever the hell you want to call what the Black Twilight Circle is doing out there in California. But as is the case with most things, though, there’s more going on in the middle of the country than most people might be aware of.
For example, take Colorado’s burgeoning scene, which seems to fall somewhere closer to the Emperor/Gorgoroth/Marduk end of the black metal spectrum: symphonic, fierce, and evil as fuck. Most fans of the genre are probably familiar with Nightbringer and Akhlys, but there’s a lot more happening in Colorado than just those two bands (both of which, incidentally, feature a musician who goes by the name of Naas Alcameth). Take, for example, Sar Isatum, who will self-release their debut full-length Shurpu on November 17. Lyrically, the trio eschew the usual Satanic focus in favor of something more influenced by the Sumerian and Annunaki traditions (their name translates as “King of Fire” in the Sumerian dialect). Musically, though, the trio split the difference between symphonic and atmospheric black metal, making for a listening experience that’s equal parts punishing and engaging. In other words, they draw the listener in, and then aurally beat the shit out of them.
On “Black Gate,” which we’re thrilled to be premiering below, the band is primarily in punishing mode, but it’s a moody sort of punishment. Most of the riffs tend toward the mid-tempo, and there’s a dramatic feel to the track that places it squarely in the mold of Emperor at their most austere. The malevolence emanating from the riffs, however, is entirely Sar Isatum’s own, and proves a perfect match for the song’s black witchcraft lyrical theme.
According to the band:
“Black Gate” is one of our simplest songs with a more traditional black metal influence, and different from the other songs on the album. Lyrically “Black Gate” is about a family who is ostracized from their village and then chooses to set up a new home on the edge of forest ruled over by a powerful witch. After kidnapping the family’s baby and using its remains in a ritual to enact flight upon a broom into the full moon, the witch decides to possess the younger children and then the oldest daughter who she aids in the killing of her parents. The oldest daughter then chooses to sign a pact with the Devil joining his coven of witches in the forest. “Black Gate” represents the barrier between the woods and the area outside, and only by joining the Devil’s coven are you allowed to enter freely.
Shurpu can be preordered digitally from Sar Isatum’s Bandcamp page.