It must be an undisputed fact that you really don’t need to do much to the death metal formula to come away with a pretty solid record. You can make it progressive, melodic, doomy, dissonant, blackened – whatever you want – but if you’d rather just worship at the altars of ASPHYX, BOLT THROWER and DISMEMBER then no-one is going to hold that against you. This seems to have been ATOMWINTER’s approach for over a decade now, and as they make no attempts to change it for album number four it really is no surprise at all that their efforts have yielded – you guessed it – another pretty solid record.
Coming five years after the Germans’ previous full-length Catacombs, the main development of note for this album – titled Sakrileg – is the recruitment of new vocalist Florian Bauer. To an extent though that isn’t a hugely significant change as Bauer plays a very similar role to his predecessor with what you could quite fairly call your standard death metal guttural. It fits the music perfectly of course, so there are no real complaints, it’s just worth noting that even a personnel shift hasn’t prompted the band to mess with their modus operandi – and nor should it.
They do have to get one of those typically unnecessary Intro pieces out of the way first though. There’s nothing wrong with the ominous tone it sets for the record, especially not with the guest cello of G. Grapp, it’s just that it doesn’t have much at all to do with the album to follow – or even flow into it for that matter. Fortunately it’s only a little over a minute long, and ATOMWINTER soon have a chance to show the uninitiated what they’re all about with the first song proper Ov Blood And Flesh. A relentless, HM-2 soaked rager, this is what the band do best, and that’s exactly how they spend the remainder of these 38 minutes.
Of course, within that there is a little bit of variation – some harder, steadier grooves housed in tracks like Brutal Scriptures and The Dark Void, or the brief ominous start to lead single Until The Loss Ov God, for example – but for the most part Sakrileg is characterised largely by the blasts, double kicks and D-beats of drummer Patrick Walter which push the record forwards with considerable urgency. Funnily enough that does mean that maybe a piece like Intro would’ve worked a little better placed somewhere in the middle of the record to give a bit of respite amidst the carnage, but then again the band do have the runtime trimmed pretty tightly to their advantage, and as long as you have an appetite for death metal in general you shouldn’t leave this one feeling too bloated.
Even then though, they could probably trim a couple of these tracks; there is no immediately obvious reason why The Lungs Ov Hell needs to be twice the length of Ov Blood And Flesh which precedes it for example, and the title track takes a little too long to get to what is ultimately quite an interesting turn for the record in the form of a gothic and doomy final minute and a half. But other than that, all is really as it should be here. Sakrileg has a great, thick sound thanks to producer Torsten Sauerbrey, it’s not too long, and there is just the tiniest lick of variation to stop it completely passing its listeners by. The death metal wheel remains very much in tact, but provided you know that’s what you’re signing up for you should be able to find plenty to enjoy here.
Sakrileg is set for release on February 10th via Trollzorn.
Like ATOMWINTER on Facebook.