Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Saille - Eldritch (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-length
Date Released: 10/11/2014
Label: Code 666 Records

‘Eldritch’ CD//DD track listing:

01. Emerald
02. Walpurgis
03. The Great God Pan
04. Aklo
05. Cold War
06. Eater of Worlds
07. Red Death
08. Dagon
09. Carcosa

Saille is:

Dennie Grondelaers | Vocals
Reinier Schenk | Guitars
Jonathan Vanderwal | Guitars
Kristof Van Iseghem | Bass
Dries Gaerdelen | Keys
Kevin De Leener | Drums


Perhaps it’s because I just don’t run into this kind of symphonic black metal very often these days, but there’s a charm and personality to ‘Eldritch’ that I believe a lot of bands are missing. Perhaps it’s nostalgia for the late 90s when everyone from Emperor to Limbonic Art to Anorexia Nervosa were opening up new worlds of musical possibility for me, but this just works for me. If I had to place a couple of points of reference, I’d say you’d be looking at  ‘Spiritual Black Dimensions’ era Dimmu Borgir coupled with the ferocity of Anorexia Nervosa; ‘New Obscurantis Order’, in particular.

That you can hear and point out so many different points of influence really shouldn’t be held against Saille. Sure, they aren’t reinventing the wheel, but then again; how many bands are? Surely, in 2014, we’ve got more than enough bands offering their variations of Neurosis or Converge or Dismember or Burzum or Weakling. In a heavy metal universe where the choices are often nostalgia, djent or prog; I find myself increasingly excited about the trails with fewer footprints on them.

One of the most important ingredients to successful symphonic black metal is a healthy relationship with musical drama and theatrics, both of which Saille have mastered sharply. “Walpurgis”, for example, opens up with preposterous keyboard acrobatics before settling into a riff more focused around guitar octaves ala Emperor’s “An Elegy of Icaros”. Once things calm down a bit, uneasy clean guitar, hushed spoken word and a floating guitar lead take center stage. It’s moments like the one I’ve just described that make this such a blast to listen to. It’s escapist fantasy, and in a black metal dealing more and more with real emotion and real life, this is a much-needed alternative.

A hefty chunk of ‘Eldritch’ is spent with Saille blasting and double-kicking their way through 12/8 beats, and while there is definitely some variation here and there, it’s predictable. It’s the kind of predictability that works in episodic television. For example, as a kid, I always knew the Batman would foil The Joker/Penguin/The Riddler’s plot and justice would prevail within an episode or two. Here, you know that blast beast is going to break into some variation of the “Inno A Satana” beat or even a brief, dynamically quieter section, but you don’t really care. You don’t want Batman actually dying twelve minutes into a mid-season episode, and you don’t want Saille to break into some ghastly shoegaze passage or throwing in a bit of jazz to prove how well-rounded and inventive they are.

Saille provide a new entry into a very specific and under-utilized niche. This is pure late 90’s symphonic black metal worship. If you were a fan of that style in its prime years, and you’re ready for a break from the earnestness of modern day and, in particular, American black metal; this should more than do the trick. It’s well-written, well-played and memorable for its songwriting, if not its novelty.

Words by: Daniel Jackson

You can pick up a digital copy here and a CD copy here.

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