Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sargeist - In Ruin & Despair (2004)

Between the release of their first and second full-length albums, Sargeist participated in a few split releases. Among them was the 2004 split with Horned Almighty, In Ruin & Despair / To the Lord of Our Lives, released on Hearse Records. For the purposes of this review, however, only the Sargeist material will be covered.

I actually didn't come across this until a couple years after its release, obtaining Satanic Black Devotion and Disciple of the Heinous Path first. As a result, I was not fully prepared for what I would hear on these tracks. The quality is a bit poorer than the full-length albums, which was somewhat of a turn-off since they achieved an ideal sound for the type of music that they play. Nevertheless, the material is actually very solid, even if it sounds more like a mixture of Mütiilation and Shatraug's primary band, Horna. It would appear that these split albums were used to offer up material that did not quite fit in with the bulk of what they were writing, around the time, thus not really being suitable for either L.P.

The sound here is very raw and primitive, with many more old school riffs and song structures thrown in. The title track features a rather eerie riff, at the beginning, which enables the band to start creating a morbid atmosphere. After a couple minutes, the pace picks up and the sound is a little more in line with the first album. The tremolo riffs, fast drumming and the hellish vocals all show a strong influence from the Second Wave bands.

"Quest the Blessing of Evil" sort of reminds one of the opening riff to Death's Scream Bloody Gore album. However, the way that this is played is one of the things that seems reminiscent of Mütiilation. Even the vocals hearken back to that band's demo days. The song is rather simplistic and does not do a whole lot to expand on the ideas presented, which goes to show why this is far more appropriate for this type of release.

The third song is "Profane Bleeding Call", which maintains a faster pace, though still some of the riffs seem as if they could have come from the aforementioned French band. Over all, this is the one song that most sounds as if it would fit well on one of Sargeist's proper albums. The feeling conveyed is a little dismal and may put the listener in a trance, if given the proper attention.

"At the Altar of the Beast" is the final Sargeist track, and it possesses more of an old school feeling, with riffs and melodies that conjure up old demons from the early period of Black Metal. It's a shame that more of this type of approach is not present on any of the albums, as this would easily suit their style of playing.

In Ruin & Despair is certainly an interesting piece of music, and worth the time and effort for all Sargeist fans to track down. It is not exactly essential, when compared to the rest of their discography, but it definitely holds its own and does not disappoint.