Review Summary: In a country most known for its fairy metal, Sargeist bring teh kvlt.
Finnish black metal outfit Sargeist was formed in 1999, originally intended as a solo project of Shatraug of Horna. He eventually enlisted the help of some other members to put out two demos between 2000 and 2001. After the release of the demo Tyranny Returns
in 2001, Hoath Torog and Horns of Behexen replaced these members and have stayed in the group since. The band's name combines the two German words, "sarg" (coffin) and "geist" (spirit or ghost), which is derived from the song "The Old Coffin Spirit" by Greek black metalers Rotting Christ. Sargeist have made it a point to keep their music and lyrics rooted in the “old school” traditions of Scandinavian black metal - crushing, Satanic, and misanthropic.
In 2010, they give us Let the Devil In
, an album free of gimmicks that sticks to solid, memorable riffs. While it doesn’t sport mind-blowing musicianship or new ideas, the LP offers a reminder that classic black metal done well is sometimes better than the results of a tampered formula. Hoath’s vocal attack is powerful and attention-grabbing right away. The guitar work manages to be melodic while remaining all the while heavy and metallic. Horns’ drumming keeps it upbeat and back to the core of early black metal percussion with nothing over-the-top, but really, that can be seen as an asset here. All the instruments are treated to fairly clean production that doesn’t come off as overly polished, something that could have greatly detracted from the music here. Everything is pretty well balanced in the mix, and the dominance of vocals that plagues a lot of similar albums is pleasantly absent here. The band also shows that they know how and when to shift tempos and change things up a bit when they’re on the verge of reaching stale. All in all, Let the Devil In
isn’t an overly sophisticated piece of work that requires careful dissection. What it is, though, is an album that’s immediately enjoyable and energizing. And at the end of the day, that’s a bit of a triumph in itself.
Sargeist lack some of the bells and whistles to truly set them apart from the rest of the pack, but then again, currently active bands making straightforward black metal this good are few and far between. In a time when the genre is both exploring itself and losing itself at the same time, it’s refreshing in it’s own way to hear an album like Let the Devil In
. Who would’ve guessed Finland had it in them?