Release Date: December 5th 2014
Roger Berzerk Fauske
To Norway again for some more Metal and this time to Sarpedon.
This is an interesting one as the band is finally poised to unleash itself onto the Metal scene, having been years in the making. A long-time project of guitarist Torgeir P. Krokfjord, the band have been working together for several years – and whilst all members have been pursuing other projects and careers throughout, the Sarpedon project has now finally come to fruition.
Although relying heavily upon influences such as Savatage, Nevermore, Symphony X, Emperor and Queen, the aim has always been to make an amalgamated beast, the spawn of all the influences, declaring war on Prog Metal as we know it today.
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Torgeir is the musical catalyst of the band, his guitar playing combining the finest of melodic Scandinavian shredding, and Southern chugging. His brother Eirik P Krokfjord (all vocals) started singing with Sarpedon in mind – and now, more than ten years and two singing degrees from the Norwegian Academy of Music later, he is ready to race out of the blocks of a promising career at the front of one of Norway's most exciting Metal exports.
Drummer Carl Engstrøm has extensive experience from the Extreme/Black Metal scene (currently also playing and touring with Troll, Endezzma, Astaroth, and Attentat), and contributes virtuosity at the back, with both Andreas Wærholm and Eirik producing haunting sound landscapes at the keys. The presence of two key ticklers in the lineup may give you a hint of what is on offer, but that is only a very small part of it.
So to the music, which is after all the crux of the matter. The title track starts things off and the first thing to hit you, after the initial riffery, speeding the song straight in, is vocal, full of drama and meaning – rather than just pure vocals, there is so much more to the singing Krokfjord sibling's voice. His message comes across at the deepest level, lyrics not the main medium.
That isn't to discount the lyrical content but where a lot are totally reliant on them to communicate, this guy isn't.
Musically it is a very strong opener, fast thundering drums which would result in whiplash if any more raucous, guitar keeping up and issuing its own roar. This song also has more than one section, vocals changing to match, guitar diving off into the more classic arena half way through. Given their influences, not a surprising sound totally but it is done very well, drama increasing throughout.
'The Lusk Letter' starts with more of the same from the skins and sticks, guitar going up and down to give it a totally different feel. This is a little darker in menace but again dramatic pulling you in to its meaning. Mid-section breaks coming from the heavier end of their influences, before driving guitar delivers a quite stunning solo, a little Malmsteen-ish in build and fitting perfectly.
'The Claustrophober' is next and is another in the same vein as far as the feel goes, but very different musically, going down to some atmospheric keys after only a minute or so, atmospheric keys that could almost be part of a church recital. Vocals come in on top, before it goes back to the heavier side, lyrics telling you "he is your inner pain" (in case you wondered if you were being shut in a less than spacious cupboard). Again this one has different sections to it, melodic choral exchanges, heavy thumping rhythm, the aforementioned organ, speeding vocals and dramatic ending. Another good track.
'Dead Birds' comes firing out next, dirty grungy start before it fires up into a more purified sound. The rhythm section calms down a tad but don't expect placid, it is anything but. Guitar and vocal harmonies in the chorus are striking as are the speeding vox and six string device throughout the song, just about resisting the impending collision coming in the shape of the rhythm section. A well-crafted song, but by this point it is pretty much what you will come to expect. The only big element missing by the half-way point in the album is intros and song beginnings with a little more variety and tempo change.
So to 'A Seed of Evil' and that needed change does arrive in the form of a piece of music filled with great vocals and a more pedestrian backing, although pedestrianism in no way takes away from the song – quite the opposite in fact. The spaces left give the vocals even more room to manoeuvre and the passion emphatically forces its way to the consciousness. There is still room for a quick gallop in the middle of the song, but the diamond in the rough with this one is definitely the melodic vocals.
'The Carnival' is different again, striking keys in the intro giving it a haunting quality, Malmsteen like upheavals up and down the fretboard once more. Melodic incantation abounds, a stirring track backed by the familiar hurry up attack.
So to the last two tracks on the album and if you were at all curious as to why they are being lumped in together, it is because we have a two parter going on. 'My Mysteries Unwind' parts one and (go on, have a guess) yep, part two. The second part is approximately three times longer than its predecessor, which starts with guitar, vocals and a touch of keys before it beefs itself up, although interestingly given the beefing, it is the contrast of the keyboards that grabs the ears and some cool and really rather nifty guitaring.
The vocals are again filled with emotion, drums and bass keeping the sentiment flowing behind it with a shudder. So to the second part of the epic and it sets off with a lot more aggressive tendency than part one, although if you get your logic out, where this one starts is actually about a quarter of the way through – come on keep up, you get music and maths with this lot.
As you would expect with a song of not much short of ten minutes, there are a lot of changes, both musically and tempo and it all works very well, the keys standing out again, not in a dramatic Jon Lord kind of a way but their perfection with the depth and not just filling space but giving the space a whole new dimension. The other stand out feature is the backing vocals towards the end, well it is more of a choral effect but very fitting and well delivered.
And that is that as far as the spinning piece of plastic is concerned anyway and I have to say it works well as an album, is a lot more than pleasing on first listen and the more you listen the more avenues and aspects will open up. Musically it is impressive and as the band say, they are trying to forge a new path in the realms of prog metal, but in all honesty this shouldn't be pigeon holed into such a small and precise little box as its appeal is a lot broader than that. All in all, another impressive album coming out of Scandinavia.
Eirik P. Krokfjord: Lead & backing vocals, keys
Torgeir P. Krokfjord: All guitars & bass
Carl Engstrøm: Drums
Andreas Wærholm: Keys