Sargassus – King of the Sun (Inverse Records)

Monday, 14th August 2023
Rating: 8.5 / 10

Starting in 2012, Finnish act Sargassus operates on the cutting edge of numerous subgenres for this third EP King of the Sun. The four-piece possesses a sound that can be abrasive as well as reflective, encompassing aspects of progressive melodic death metal and post-metal on this four-track outing. The songwriting process between guitarist Teemu Leskinen and drummer Matias Rokio develops out of live jamming sessions, which can effectively explain the spontaneous leaps taken part by part, never mind song to song.

Vocalist Matias Stenman wastes no time exploring his lacerated screams or calmer, reflective demeanor on the shape shifting “Queen of the Moon” – the six-minute plus arrangement equally dynamic on the musical scale between the layers of circular guitar lines, groove to blast beat drum measures, and atmospheric transitions that convey Opeth elements as well as Isis or Agalloch. The follow-up “Breed of the Exodus” adds an epic, cultural accent to the mix, the clean/extreme vocal contrasts alluring as Matias’ drumming and the post-metal, softer electric axe passages giving an airy feel that allows those aggressive death/almost blackened parts to become more meaningful. Tribal Middle Eastern influences seep into the title track through the acoustic/drum interplay opening sequence, the song transforming into an elegant progressive arrangement where bassist Jukka Teppola gets to showcase his technical abilities in the instrumental passages against some large guitar lines, folk-like choir parts, and pounding snare/fill mechanics. Even the cover art plus band logo takes on a different flavor than what one normally expects in these styles – while the production values and tones capture a lot of that live off the floor aspect that makes this music vibrant.

Delivering three EP’s over the past four years, Sargassus would seem ready just based on talent, songwriting, and performances alone to leap up to full-length album ranks based on the work contained for King of the Sun. Ideal for those who enjoy musicians who challenge parameters in seemingly distant subgenres yet create thoughtful compositions that tantalize.

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