Review Summary: The first great brutal album of 2010.
Situating oneself in the comfort of expectations is an enticing strategy to build both anticipation and loyalty for any pending affair. However, expectations also lend themselves (and as such, their envoy) to disappointment, sheerly as a consequence of extraction. Even if what was expected was what was delivered, the effect will be potentially...anticlimactic. In order to transcend disappointment one must first transcend any prejudice, no matter the purport, in regards to not only specific entities, but, as to make a habit, all entities. Such an application in conduct is precisely what is necessary for one to properly receive Sarcolytic's first full length album.
There is no denying that even the band's name carries along with it certain connotations and expectations, at least for those familiar with the history of California brutal death metal legends Disgorge. Sarcolytic stands for, in essence, a rebirth of Disgorge (even though only one member is in the band), who are, for those somehow unfamiliar with Disgorge, now defunct (even though just recently there was some controversy regarding the band's revival). Much of this could be blamed on Sarco's initial self-titled EP, which did nothing to provide any intimations of change in creative direction for drummer Ricky Myers, as it was maximum Disgorge worship. However, with their first full length, the band has decided to alter, somewhat drastically, their sonic inclinations.
First of all, I would hesitate to label Thee Arcane Progeny
as veritable brutal death, which would be a misnomer in the slightest sense; considering that much of the brutality perceived emanates from one's expectations for, and familiarity of, the Disgorge family of bands, as the riffs are somewhat similar in structure (if that is at all feasible). This is more of a strength than anything else however, as it separates the band from said expectations, even though this release might be martyred in the process. It allows Sarcolytic to not be regarded as "the ashes of Disgorge" or a second-rate Disgorge, and for them to leave that to those who have no stake in the scene as yet.
With this release, the band takes cues from more popular bands in the genre such as Nile, Behemoth and Hour of Penance. Considering how many bands on the scene these days sport the very same influences, one would be inclined to immediately cast off this album. Don't make that mistake! Sarcolytic are able to put a reasonably fresh spin on the sound of those bands in incorporating it into their more-streamlined-Disgorge approach to brutal death metal, and believe it or not the two styles merge affably. The aforementioned influence is most obvious towards the latter portion of the album where, on tracks such as Emissary, the album is borderline melodic. There are enough technical acrobatics to sate most tech-heads, and not so much brutality to turn anyone off on its own behest, which makes for a welcome and ostensibly accessible formula for those who are not yet initiate in brutal music.
Ironically enough (with all this about expectations and Disgorge), the most obvious flaw with the album is Ricky Myers' drumming, and especially the production of the drums, which is likened to one of the whimpiest drum sounds to ever grace a brutal record. Myers is an undeniably talented drummer, but the issue is that he recycles too much. Yes, Ricky, the drum pattern in the intro to 'The Secrets of Divinities' is very good, but this is (at least) the third time you've used it. It isn't much of a detraction however, and the biggest detraction for most will spawn from an inability to disregard any biases; from the allure of comparing Sarcolytic to Disgorge, which just isn't fair.