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Album Review: Sarcasm – Within the Spheres of Ethereal Minds

One might be tempted to lump Swedish death metal outfit Sarcasm in with the rest of the current crop of HM-2 worshipping bands that are so prevalent these days, but to do so would be a mistake. Even though they didn’t release their first proper full-length until last year, the Uppsala-based band’s were originally active from 1990-94, releasing half a dozen demos around the same time that their peers in Entombed and Dismember were putting Swedeath on the musical map. That first full-length, Burial Dimensions, was actually recorded back in ’94, making their forthcoming Within the Spheres of Ethereal Minds the first new music from the band in 20+ years.

So…history lessons aside, is the record any good? For the most part, the answer is yes. Guitarists Anders Eriksson and Peter Laitinen both have chops for days, and they have a real knack for writing riffs that are catchier than head lice. Just check out the opening riffs on “From the Crimson Fog They Emerge,” where they do the classic twin guitar thing, but instead of simply doubling the tremolo-picked line, they do more of a countermelody thing that sounds really fucking cool and is guaranteed to be stuck in your head for hours afterwards. The intricate acoustic guitars on “Embodiment of Source” and the epic “A Black Veil for Earth” add an unexpected dose of melodicism to the proceedings, and provide a nice contrast to the heaviness of the rest of the tracks. The way they flow so seamlessly into the songs is also a testament to the band’s songwriting skills. Even the nearly 9-minute “A Black Veil for Earth” is so tightly arranged that it barely feels half that length.

That being said, the record isn’t without its shortcomings. The tracks that bookend the record, opening track “Bloodsoaked Sunrise” and closer “The Drowning Light at the Edge of the Dawn,” are the weakest tracks on the record. “Bloodsoaked Sunrise” in particular lack the sort of memorable riffs that make the rest of the record so enjoyable, and “A Black Veil for Earth” probably would have made for a more effective closer. The six tracks that make up the bulk of the record, though, are some seriously top-notch death metal, making this record well worth checking out.

Within the Spheres of Ethereal Minds will be available on April 28 via Dark Descent Records.

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