Sadus – The Shadow Inside (Nuclear Blast)

Friday, 17th November 2023
Rating: 9 / 10

One of those Bay Area bands who straddled the thrash with speed and death angle styles starting in the early 80’s, Sadus made a solid impression on the scene through albums such as Illusions, Swallowed in Black, and A Vision of Misery. Although their last studio record Out for Blood came out in 2006, it’s not as if the band faded away into oblivion – playing live shows and festivals when they could. Bassist Steve DiGiorgio has moved on, leaving main members guitarist/vocalist Darren Travis and drummer Jon Allen to forge ahead for this sixth studio record The Shadow Inside – continuing the path of technical thrash metal with sharp transitions, aggressive tones, and unrelenting energy we’ve come to expect for decades.

What’s always made Sadus special is their innate ability to sharpen the guitar/bass attack, raspy vocals, and progressive, propulsive drumming with that balance of proper, circular hooks so as to not fall totally off the edge when it comes to song structures. This may appear in slower segments such as the crawling opening sequence of “Ride the Knife”, or semi-tribal atmosphere conveyed throughout “The Devil In Me” that offset the all-out blitzkrieg intensity present in tracks such as “Anarchy” and “No Peace”. Smartly giving listeners that left-field calmer instrumental “New Beginnings”, the record ends on a moody note with the shapeshifting, mid-tempo title track that has a bit more classic, King Diamond-ish meets Kirk Hammett/Metallica flair especially in the lead break spot. Seasoned producer Juan Urteaga appears again, an expert in getting the right tones, feel, and vibe for the band to be commanding while current, not to the detriment of what Sadus is able to achieve musically. Favorites circulate daily – the record opening on a mysterious note with the seven-minute plus “First Blood”, the front third more in atmospheric/building block mode before bursting at the technical thrash twisted seams, while the throwback, cultural textures against some sick progressive snare/double kick tricks put “Pain” into swirling headbang mode.

Sadus may have been one of those acts that got swept under the radar when Testament, Exodus, and others were originally taking off – but do not discount their creative talent and execution on The Shadow Inside. The versatility between shifting tempos, stellar musicianship, and adequate hook/groove parts will be rewarded to those fervent followers of the genre.

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