Sarcasm – Mourninghoul (Hammerheart Records)

Friday, 12th April 2024
Rating: 9 / 10

Active in the early 90s, Swedish band Sarcasm released a series of demos to establish their brand of death metal before dissolving in 1994. A short-lived reunion in 1997 did not last – putting the group to bed until 2015 with a fresh lineup. They’ve made up for lost time in these past nine years – Mourninghoul is the fifth studio album, delivering another platter of furious melodic, blackened death metal similar to what you’ve come to know and love from a lot of the Scandinavian breed.

Combining the aggression of classic death metal and the vital extreme nature of black metal while twisting aspects of melodies and hooks in periodically, the eight tracks cover a lot of ground. You’ll get blast beat, tremolo-fueled velocity one section, then an about face solid classic doom sequence the next that doesn’t sound like a crash collision course of calamity. The contrasts provide dynamics where beautiful, haunting elements bring about this alluring charm – check out the guest female vocals during the middle of “A Lucid Dream in the Paradigm Stream”, the lead guitar break exquisite in its measured, thoughtful notes against the savage doom/death riffs and occasional blackened whirlwind movements. Most of the songs clock in at a respectable four to five-minute timeframe, while the lone epic “No Solace From Above” at almost nine-minutes illustrates the band’s expansive outlook, featuring piano and distant talk-oriented vocal parts next to some penetrating doom riffs that pick up momentum to crush souls, the deathly lacerations of singer Heval Bozarslan channeling the best aspects of Necrophobic, Dissection, and Unanimated. Many will dig the thrash gallop meets twin Bay Area harmony passages to the opening strains for “Absence of Reality” while opener “As Northern Gates Open” savagely attacks from the initial guitar run and never lets up through the impressive extreme drum clinic Jesper Ojala delivers – a midway tempo shift peaking back to those early 90s Swedish melodic death metal days.

Those who choose to pick up the limited-edition double CD can get their fill of those 90s demos as nine songs from three of those efforts appear on the second bonus disc. The lyrics are conceptual in nature about a two-minded ghoul and his journey on miserable Earth having a conversation between oneself and a higher being, all told through aspects of metaphors and symbolism. Sarcasm proves that pure passion plus the right timing / musicians on hand can equal a productive second life so to speak – Mourninghoul ideal for those who love melodic blackened death metal that has killer songwriting / tones to make for a very memorable album.

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