Formed near the very core of the rampaging extreme metal infection across greater South American post-Pentagram and Sepultura, Santiago based Sadism would step in as one of the earliest pure death metal groups in Chile in 1988. It’d obviously been difficult to get signed as most of the Chilean death and death/thrash metal output from about 1986 through 1991 would see many promising bands left in the dust of their demo stages. It’d be a mild stroke of luck that French label Infest Records would pick up the cult debut from Torturer and by that point it’d be by necessity that labels like Toxic Records formed to provide support in documenting the greater Chilean scene of the time. 1992 would be the year that Chilean death metal truly broke outside the scene with official records from death/grinders Belial and brutalists Totten Korps arriving alongside Torturer‘s ‘Oppressed by the Force’; The biggest highlight for my own taste is what I’d consider the first ‘true’ death metal record out of Chile: Sadism‘s ‘Tribulated Bells’. To this day they remain one of the most consistent and steadfast ‘old school’ death metal projects out of the greater Santiago area.
Though I’ve definitely raved about Apostasy‘s debut over the years the other equally important half of the story comes with my own pursuit of the much easier to find tape for Sadism‘s debut. ‘Tribulated Bells’ was clearly influenced by both the Florida death metal scene and groups like Pestilence, its raw and brutally blasted riff machine put the band on the map with a raw-knuckled ‘Legion’ meets ‘Malleus Maleficarum’ riff-crammed approach. I was definitely a fanatic for the band from the first listen in the early 2000’s and would hunt down their first several releases beyond that debut as a result. Through the Criminal influenced groove riffs of ‘Deadline Sequences’ (1997) and the Morbid Angel-esque personal favorite ‘A Dwelling of Gods’ (1999) impressed, the band would eventually lose my interest with ‘Summon’ (2002); As a result I’d not pick back up on the Sadism until the release of the phenomenal ‘The Ocularis Domination’ (2014). It would be a massive comeback in terms of recapturing Sadism‘s slightly twisted take on late 80’s/early 90’s death metal rhythms with a professional and modernized sound. I was excited enough to place it in my Top 10 for 2014 and the follow-up ‘Alliance’ (2015) came fast and well, maybe too soon for folks to catch up with. I know I generally missed it until almost a year later and here we’ve got a similar story with the bands seventh full-length ‘Ethereal Dead Cult’, I’m late to the party again.
Though Sadism have retained their original drummer and vocalist since 1988 different guitarists have brought their own tone and sensibility to the bands output and this creates blocks of different interest throughout their career. Pablo Pino brought pure thrash influences and an almost frantic Dark Angel level of riffing to the table while Raul Salinas‘ entrance on ‘Tribulated Bells’ ushered in a more traditional death metal affect. Enrique Zúñiga (Atomic Aggressor, ex-Totten Korps) would replace Pino on ‘Deadline Sequences’ and the bands sound would push heavier groove up to and including ‘Summon’ for a more modern sound. With ‘The Ocularis Domination’ Gabriel Hidalgo (Hidalgo, Six Magics) would bring a sound and style I’d say comes close to classic Vader in style and this has persisted across their last three full-lengths. It isn’t an extremely challenging approach but, the crossover between modern guitar ideas and a sort of quasi-classic death metal is satisfying in the same way that the comeback albums from Mercyless were; They’ve returned with relation to their old selves with a new brain guiding the guitar work and it makes for a solid listen across consistent output.
‘Ethereal Dead Cult’ builds upon the previous two albums while matching the generally high intensity grooves of ‘Alliance’ with slightly improved precision. Little in the way of surprises or wild technique appear but I do think Hidalgo has really improved in terms of the placement of lead guitars (“This Burial is Ours”) and the biggest takeaway for ‘Ethereal Dead Cult’ finds a general tightening of composition. Big grooves are always around the corner to break up the more ripping death/thrash sections and ‘Ethereal Dead Cult’ is heavier for that dynamic. I find the style therein stands out from a lot of modern Chilean death metal which tends to either be either very groove metal oriented or focused on the atmospheric shapelessness of occult blackened death ideals; It is very inspiring to return to an old favorite band and find they are still holding fast to their ideals in a very effective (but not terribly dated) way, as I’d likewise suggested of Apostasy‘s latest release. It is remarkable to see this band persisting on their original label still alive and thrashing like hell thirty years later. Highly recommended. For preview I’d suggest the first single/video “The Spectral Veils” as it introduces the sound and energy of the album well but it’d be just as vital to check out “No Opposites” and “This Burial is Ours” to really see how they’ve honed their sound since 2014.
Malevolent immortality. 4.25/5.0
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