Sapiency – For Those Who Never Rest (Massacre Records)Wednesday, 14th October 2020
Active since 2009, German sextet Sapiency have been on the sidelines for the recording front since their second full-length Tomorrow came out in 2013. Lineup changes took place in that interim, introducing some new influences to reshape and retool their sound into a modern, melodic death/thrash outfit in For Those Who Never Rest. Employing a dual vocal approach with separate singing duties in Lars Bittner for the clean sections and Phil Heckel for the extreme/harsh delivery, these twelve songs in the main (plus a special bonus track with an additional guest) showcase a band intent on going for the jugular musically, gaining catchy hooks through specific riff development and choruses that can latch intensely into that brain matter.
There’s an ideal amount of crunch/groove segments that act as placeholders for slamming proclivities, much in the way of say classic Natural Born Chaos-era Soilwork, Mercenary, and a little Trivium. Most listeners will be hard pressed not to headbang away at the half-time segment transitions for “Like Yourself” or circular guitar sequences against the blasting action during “I Am Alive”, where the dual vocal approach heightens the musical action to a fever pitch. Guitarist Rene Ritzmann uses keyboard programming in ideal situations, adding some cyber orchestration playful moments during “Dangerous Game” where some semi rapid-fire growls occur during specific verses to match the rhythmic main hook. The band are most successful at creating anticipation off a main guitar/rhythm section sequence, elaborating and dissecting it to stunted and accelerated breaks, as “Sick” is a mid-album highlight that never fails to grab this scribe’s attention beyond the good cop/bad cop switch-ups. When the band choose to be a little more straightforward with the twin guitar melodies against a heavy foundation, you get “Lucid Dreamer”, while closer “Dropped Again” at 6:48 illustrates Sapiency at their most experimental- a slow building arrangement that includes some calmer sections against pulsating keyboards, the electricity slightly doomy and melodic as if incorporating a bit of Dark Tranquillity against Machine Head. The bonus track is a second look at “Like Yourself” – with guest vocals from Gerre of Tankard in the mix to provide a throwback thrash aspect to the otherwise gruff/modern melodies from Tyler and Phil.
Marrying the music with lyrical content that strives for motivation in people to become stronger and transmit positive energy in these harsh, troubled times – For Those Who Never Rest reminds listeners that modern melodic death/thrash can be very powerful if the emphasis is on hooks, melodies, and dynamic contrasts while still being heavy. On all fronts, Sapiency succeeds.