Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sacramentum - Finis Malorum (1994)

Finis Malorum is the first proper release from Sweden's Sacramentum. This E.P. was recorded in Dan Swanö's Unisound Studios. It was released by the band in 1994, and later repressed by Adipocere in 1995. I first discovered this band through their debut album, Far Away From the Sun, so I expected a similar sound when I finally ran across this recording. While the feeling is there, it doesn't quite match up.

"Moonfog" slowly fades in, before erupting with a violent fury. The sound is a little thicker and less cold than the following album. A significant part of this may be related to the drums. It would seem that Swanö's questionable production skills came into play once again, resulting in the drums being too loud in the mix. As far as the guitar melodies go, they're not too far removed from the material on the full-length. It's not merely fast-paced all the way through; the sound is very dynamic, with a lot of old school melodies.

The next song is "Travel With the Northern Winds", which begins with a strange riff, before going into something more traditional. It doesn't last long, before a short bass break and a new riff comes in. This song is a bit disjointed, as it just doesn't flow very well. There are some good ideas to be found, but it seems the band can't quite figure out what direction they want to go in. The Black Metal riffs give a dark feeling to the song, which is interrupted by frequent Death Metal riffs (and drumming).

"Devide et Impera" starts with another odd riff. It soon transitions to a more melodic riff, and then to an epic and atmospheric section that begins to send a bit of a chill over you. The lead solo does well to add to this feeling. There are still some Death Metal bits, later in the song, that kind of detract from the feeling, but it's nothing too bad. There's a strong traditional Metal vibe to the solos, which is a plus.

This is followed by "Pagan Fire", which rages forth from the start, and then goes into a Death Metal riff. There's this constant struggle between Black and Death Metal on this release, and it tends to have a detrimental effect on the overall product. Despite the distraction provided by the fact that the drums are too high in the mix, there are some really good melodies here. Where the band seems to shine are when they stick to either Black Metal or even the more old school riffs. The Death Metal aspect should have been dropped already, and it is a good thing that they realized that before recording their first album.

The E.P. concludes with "Finis Malorum", which is a brief outro that consists of a somber guitar melody and a distant spoken-word passage. Soon, some more melodic riffs emerge, accompanied by drums, before fading into the nothingness.

This is not an essential release, unless you are a hardcore fan. The thing that drew me to Sacramentum, in the first place, was the cold Black Metal sound found on Far Away From the Sun, owing some influences to Dissection's Storm of the Light's Bane. Finis Malorum possesses vry few of the qualities that I appreciate, as it regards this band, and a few more that just don't seem to fit. It's not a bad release, by any means, but it struggles to hold up under close scrutiny.