Sacrocurse – Gnostic Holocaust

Rating: 2/5
Distributor/label: Hells Headbangers
Released: 2018
Buy Album: http://sacrocurse-mexico.bandcamp.com/album/gnostic-holocaust
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/Sacrocurse

BAND LINE-UP:

Carlos “ZK” Montes – Guitar & Vocals,
Aldo “AW” Guerra – Drums,
Josephine “SW” Guerrero – Bass.

TRACKLISTING:

1. Just Fucking Die
2. Jaws Of Hell
3. Spirit Versus Flesh
4. Endless Khaoz
5. Kirie Eleison
6. Maze Of Serpents
7. Empire Of Sekmet
8. Triumphant Tribulation
9. Gnostic Holocaust
10. Vengeance Consumed

REVIEW

Here’s a question for you, dear reader: how would you go about writing a black metal album? There’re so many avenues to go to: brooding, atmospheric, fiery, Satan-y, etc. Then there’s your production style – are you feeling crisp and clean, massive and heavy, or the classic lo-fi kvlt? Taste is everything, and it all adds up when attempting to create a solid album. So where have SACROCURSE opted to go with sophomore album, “Gnostic Holocaust”?

Some may call it “classic”, but after the creepy sampled intro to the charming “Just Fucking Die” takes heed and dies away, there’s a rather underwhelming sense of familiarity about what follows forth. For all the power behind “Gnostic Holocaust” that is testament to SACROCURSE’s passion for their craft, it just doesn’t enable it to stand out from what black metal’s been doing for decades. That is to say, chaotic flurries of blast beats, vocals from a throat lozenge commercial and guitars that skin you alive – sound familiar? For a genre that strives to step out on its own and do things opposed to the “establishment”, there’s a rather worrying adherence to both formula and overall sound (in this case, leaning towards the old favourite, kvlt).

Whilst it has a prominent “heard-it-before” nature to it, the album’s not without its highlights. The ominous intro and frenetic blast that herald the beginning of “Kirie Eleison” has a particular menace to it, only complimented by the oppressive verse riff that follows. Additionally, the gnawing, grinding quality that permeates through “Triumphant Tribulations” warms the neck muscles up for a spot of headbanging, but thereafter it’s more of the same blasting assault. On that note, tempos stretch between a hurried jog to full-on sprint, with nary a variation – the problem with this is that the whole product just becomes homogenised; blurring into insignificance.

Continuing the adherence to type, the production varies greatly in quality. Whilst drums and vocals take centre stage, the guitar is pushed to the back (not helped by their thin, buzzing tone) and often feels more of a token presence. Bass, fortunately, sits well within the grand scheme of things and makes up for the guitars’ lack of low end admirably, yet the real balloon-popping moment is every time there’s a solo. And it should be noted – there are a lot of solos.

To use a tedious and tenuous food analogy, the solo should be that final bit of seasoning or garnish to the meal, yet “Gnostic Holocaust” makes it the entire meal, the starter, the dessert and the indigestion on the way home. It consumes the entire song – not unlike a greedy bastard at a free buffet – by screaming into life with obnoxious volume and drenched in unnatural reverb. If it were a more subtle form of musical expression, then it could potentially be overlooked, but the fact it’s akin to a SLAYER solo (fast, no musical idea) just makes it all the worse. Maybe it’s tactical in drawing the attention back if the listener’s mind has gone wandering, or maybe it’s a mix oversight that developed into a quaint charm. Either way, it’s a rather unpalatable.

Maybe it’s musical snobbery or a fondness for offensively high standards, but you come to expect a certain level when listening to black metal. A delicate combination of musicianship, songwriting, production and passion should garner a competent release, and SACROCURSE can claim half of those. “Gnostic Holocaust” displays their fine musicianship and untamed passion well, but also highlights the lacking in songwriting craft and production. An adherence to type and odd mix choices make it a tricky sophomore for the band. Nevertheless, there’s patently a market for this out there – here’s looking at you, dark-dwelling creatures of the underground.

REVIEW BY:

LEE CARTER

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