(Nuclear Blast/Good Fight Music)
Although 'In Tongues' is the debut release from Floridian, blackened death Metal band Dark Sermon, they haven't held anything back. This album is about as intense as it gets, face ripping riffs, pummelling drum work, brutal vocals which are consistently good throughout and a great technical edge also.
Aside from the sheer brutality, the tracks are brilliantly constructed, attention has been paid to the phrasing and as much care has been given to what has been left out as to what has been put in, a good balance between the brutal and the technical, so the result is still brutal and exciting but also catchy and easy to listen to.
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Opening track, 'The Shepherd's Staff', is intense and upon you before you even know what's happening, you are caught up in the excitement immediately, great technical elements, a fabulous solo and multi layered brutal vocals. Stunning and intense drum work is very much to the forefront of 'Imperfect Contrition' dropping away briefly and reflectively before building back up to some great guitar work midway.
On 'Hounds', a well placed drop away segments adds more punch to the intense elements and yet another great solo segment.
'The Scales Of Justice' begins quietly before building in volume and intensity, the track rushing right at you, excellent spiralling technical riffs over dark chugging, the spoken sound bite adding much to the overall feel of the track also. The pace quickens a little for 'Cursed' and you are treated to a sexy little technical bass solo midway, overlaid with sinister whispering vocals.
Can this album get any better? Yes it can! In the shape of 'Forfeit I: The Crooked Quill', blackened, brutal and yet another stunning solo! Another dark track, 'Forfeit II: Worn Thin', where the guitar work has an ominous feel and the lyrics are wonderfully harrowing and dark.
'The Tree Of New Life' is slower, drawn out, with a drum rich intro, building slowly with some ominous and reflective segments before opening up to an audio onslaught, also with some great technical elements amongst the brutal vocals and precise effective drum work.
On 'Carcass', blackened, sinister and ominous riffs build in speed, on top of this, the phrasing, the vocals and the drum work all serve to render this track an exciting listen. If the last opener wasn't blackened and ominous enough for you then 'Testament' should satisfy your desires before building, gradually and darkly to a spiralling riff fest, ending in a short sharp little solo.
On the final, title track, a six and a half minute monster, 'In Tongues', all the stops are pulled, right from the opening build through to the blackened riffs, blistering drum work and brutal vocals, a track awash with dark ominous sinister passion, winding and weaving with the rise, fall and directional change of the tempo and just in case you haven't had enough, a final solo. I also loved the way you are lead out with a great little military style drumbeat - a fabulous finish!
There is no way I can choose a favourite track as when the next track arrives, it is my new favourite, such is the standard of quality. With a first release of this magnitude I can't help wonder where Dark Sermon will go from here. Hopefully from strength to strength - truly an impressive beginning.