Sodomisery – Mazzaroth (Testimony Records)Wednesday, 27th September 2023
The name Sodomisery ringed a slight bell when the wife mentioned that their new album would be right up my alley. Maybe the name being an odd and interesting play on words was what stuck in the brain. Either way, after checking out their first album The Great Demise, it was evident that they really have something going for them. Simply put, it’s a well put together, catchy 45 minutes of melodic black metal with a significant amount of bite. It wasn’t perfect, as there was a jerky moment or two, but all-in-all, a hell of a debut. Now comes their sophomore effort Mazzaroth, and they’ve made quite the unexpected metamorphosis.
A little backstory to Mazzaroth will help set the scene. It’s an album that thematically stems from the mental health struggles of the COVID pandemic; something many can closely relate to. Heck, yours truly still has a lot of struggles with things currently that came from that time we’d all like to forget, so this subject matter hits home on a personal level. Additionally, there’s the matter of the band creating two versions of the album, which will shed light on the aforementioned metamorphosis. One version includes heavy keyboards and orchestrations; elements that are newly introduced for the band. The other does not include these additions, and seemingly may be akin to the sound profile of The Great Demise. The decision was to go with the former, for the reasoning that those newly founded elements were important pieces that brought a vividness that took their music to a higher level. Sodomisery’s decision was indeed a prudent one, as Mazzaroth is a huge step forward in every single imaginable facet.
Stylistically, these symphonic pieces aren’t of the flashy, Children of Bodom-esque sort that are high in the mix and as prominent as the guitars. These are more subtly interlaced within the compositions, deeper in the mix, helping drive and enhance the atmosphere in creative ways. “Coming Home” features gigantic moments and buzzsaw guitar rhythms, contrasted by melancholic clean guitar/vocal passages, balanced out by Harris Sopovic’s icy snarls. Most impressive is the creativity displayed within the songwriting, with the flow being extremely precise, yet natural, avoiding any off kilter moments that could cause quick derailment. Entries such as “Psychogenic” bring a directness combined with bombasticness, even including an intense thrash section that reminds of Aura Noir.
“Delusion” brings a wistful catchiness, with an infectious chorus surrounded by wave after wave of melodic leads that won’t be easily forgotten. Dissection frostiness meets Insomnium-level weeping lead and acoustic guitar work on “A Storm Without Wind,” while the title track brings a blackened riffage of Iskald, albeit with more polish. Thick orchestrations twist together with jagged guitars and chilling screams on “Demon in Heaven”; a song that brings back memories of Scourge of Malice era Graveworm via beautiful-yet-dreadful symphonic fogginess of which is majestic as it is grim.
Mazzaroth is one of those pleasant surprises that nobody could see on the horizon, and within that lies a part of the charm. Being taken aback unexpectedly by such a high quality record reminds one of why this music has become so vital to so many. Putting aside the surprise factor, Sodomisery has written an album that has shot them into the upper echelon of the densely populated melodic black metal universe. Mazzaroth is a tightly woven, emotive, meticulously crafted 35 minutes of thoughtful music that annihilates with grace. This Swedish trio has set a high standard, and while their next steps will be fascinating, the present is a fine place to be.