While The Sabbathian still consists of multi-instrumentalist Chad Davis and vocalist Anette Uvaas Guldbransen, their first full-length Latum Alterum doesn’t feature the “female-fronted Hour of 13” style heard on their 2014 EP, Ritual Rites. The group seems to have broadened their horizons since that time, mixing goth and black metal influences in with their established occult doom. The results are closer to Moonspell or Hamferd than Blood Ceremony, but the quality stays consistent.
The album’s intermingling style is best demonstrated by the musicianship. Davis’s instrumentation sets up a solid black-doom foundation; the crackly guitar fuzz provides somber textures, the bass carries a bleak subtlety, and the rather mechanical-sounding drums opt for simple but effective patterns. The vocals also stand out with ethereal layering that dominates the mix and provides a stark contrast without sounding out of place. As corny as it sounds, they seemingly exist to bring light to the darkness.
On the flip side, the songwriting is rather one-dimensional. Tempos rarely fluctuate and just about every song seems to operate at a Viking-era Bathory marching pace. Fortunately, there are enough good tracks to keep things from getting too dull as “Liti Kiersti” stands out for its inviting folk-style vocal layers while “One Night of Cruelty” offers a more pounding approach. The classic doom flavors of “Embrace the Dark” make it another highlight that’s perhaps the most accessible link between this album and the EP before it.
Overall, The Sabbathian’s first full-length album is a departure from the EP that set up their style but makes for a solid gothic doom outing. It’s cool to see a doom band play with black metal tropes without falling into extreme madness and the vocal mastery helps push it above your standard occult rock fare. This project is on course for a fascinating trajectory and with the help of more varied songwriting, it just might get there.
“One Night of Cruelty”
“Embrace the Dark”