Desolator – Sermon of Apathy (Black Lion Records)

Sunday, 6th September 2020
Rating: 7.5/10

Nowadays, the second you say Swedish death metal a vision of the legion of Entombed/Dismember clones immediately pops into your head. But bands like Centinex and Vomitory have been doing their more brutal Swedish death metal thing for quite some time as well. File Desolator more along the lines of those acts, as well as Vader, than the members of the old school death metal revival.

Sermon of Apathy combines melody and straight-ahead death metal venom in a way that satisfies from a primal perspective, without skimping out on some memorable moments. The epic, 9-minute closer “The Great Law of the Dead” is the best example. Its extended timeframe lets them really build up some atmosphere and mood, pull out some aggressive riffing, and even dig into some melodic soloing, particularly in the track’s finale. The band doesn’t shy away from fleshed out tracks to begin with, and it’s to their credit that they can make it in such a fashion that keeps the intensity and adrenaline flowing. There’s a lot of bone-crunching guitar riffs, but the way that a song like “Adversarial Doctrine” blends in some catchy melodies makes the whole thing just a little bit sweeter. Coupled with some strong pacing and varied tempos makes Desolator’s approach to death metal one that’s refined and primal all at once. While some may accuse the band of sounding similar to others, it’s hard to ignore when it’s written this well.

Despite a 7-year await between full-length efforts (though EP Spawn of Misanthropy was a nice stop in between), Desolator returns strongly and consistently with Sermon of Apathy. Good ole Swedish death metal that understands how to walk the line between atmospheric melodies and visceral riffing without making any sort of compromises to their approach.

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