Review Summary: Sacramentum's epic.
Sacramentum is a melodic black metal band in the vein of Dissection. Many people will dismiss this band as simply another bland clone in the musical movement, but nothing can be further from the truth. Sacramentum's songs are infinitely more well crafted and flowing than Dissection's, and they have a blatant classical influence stamped all over them. Imagine The Somberlain sped up two times faster and with a lot less meandering and you'll get this album.
The production is rather strong. The drums punch their way out to the forefront, while the guitars just float slightly beneath them. There is considerable reverb and echo caused by both instruments, causing a spacious and airy feeling adding to the epic nature of the songs. The bass is on the same level of said echoes, making for a powerful hum in the background. The vocals are on the same level also, completing the tasteful wall of sound supporting the drums and lead guitar. Everything simply clicks without being over polished.
The music is what makes this album timeless. The classical influences show through brilliantly in the meticulous songwriting. The phrases flow together perfectly, slickly sliding from motif to motif without losing any momentum. Where Dissection's compositions were occasionally choppy and questionable in their quest to emulate classical composition, Sacramentum somehow pull it off in an almost Wagnerian fashion. The songs are extremely dramatic and emotional without falling into the realm of cheesiness. They are constant climaxes- an attack with no rest. There is little to no buildup in the songs, but any lax would cause the crowing victorious nature of the album to lose steam. Amon Amarth and a gaggle of other melodeath bands try to emulate this holy grail of 'constant climaxes', but fall short due to inane songwriting. The melody in itself is a vicious attack on the senses- a complex weaving of melodic and triumphant notes with a sinister undercurrent telling of an inversion of classical sentiments. When coupled with the acrobatic drumming and throat ripping vocals, the music turns into the ultimate manifestation of the conflicting forces in human nautre- turbulant, destructive, but ultimately transcendant and triumphant when faced with true adversity. Where most black metal carries a feeling of longing and wandering, this feral incarnation presents us with the aftermath of the quest for meaning- a victorious homecoming of sorts if you will. One extremely important element of metal is romanticism, and this band captures it in it's full essence. In short, this is neoclassical music done right.
Simply put, this is a classic piece of metal worthy of both your time and money. I can safely say that this band has taken Dissection's sound and perfected it to beyond anything Jon Nodtvedt could ever achieve. It's a pity that the sensationalization of Dissection's frontman stole the thunder from many other worthier bands such as this. What's even more disappointing is that Sacramentum is split up now. However, their legacy still stands strong as a hidden gem in the sea of mediocrity that is black metal. Get this album even if you aren't into metal. You'll be in for a pleasant surprise.