SACRILEGION – From Which Nightmares Crawl (2022)REVIEW

If you’ve any vested interest in the origin and expansion of the true melodic death metal dialect you can’t miss the virtuous intentions which south of Salt Lake City, Utah-borne melodic death metal band Sacrilegion present thier debut album. At face value ‘From Which Nightmares Crawl‘ might appear as a band in exacting tribute but they’ve more to wield than easily caught references to a core handful of elite melodeath bands. Though the nuance will be lost on most, this quartet strike their own buffed and brazen Eldritch current woven along an increasingly twisted semi-technical riffcraft-obsessed path for the duration of this well-polished entrance. No, they’ll not escape the association that comes with oft referential admixture entirely and I don’t think that’ll be an issue for the artist, who’d insert their own mind from a passionate point of fandom with conviction and vision, skirting the doldrums of plainest nostalgic treatment.

Sacrilegion formed in 2018 as one of several projects from guitarist/vocalist Connor G. Carlson (Unceremonial, Knellwraith) as his original melodic death metal band Delusions of Godhood began to fizzle out. Though it features different artists it’ll be worth the precedence to visit ‘Dreamscape‘ (2015) and figure that band had been likely building toward a second full-length that’d plausibly resemble something along the lines of ‘From Which Nightmares Crawl‘. If I could venture a guess, the pandemic years stifled a lot of the growth the perfectionist multi-talent was ready for circa 2019 and only now do we see these projects gaining ground, getting signed and playing live. Anyhow, the first demo (‘The Pest Dialect‘, 2018) arrived in meticulous form while Sacrilegion was still a solo project, it’d been a demo in truth per its confident display of four relatively different pieces which conveyed the range we find explored in more depth on this full-length. No leap of logic, no surprise stylistic change, no studio trickery dependent sound, just a clear translation of those concepts expanded within about three years worth of consideration.

As we kick into opener “A Terrible Pilgrimage to Seek the Nighted Throne” the lighthouse beacon lights up the sky with a frightening black flame as the rhythm guitar focused aggression of the piece notably tackles the height of pre-‘Slaughter of the SoulAt the Gates alongside the bounding and thrashing aggression of circa 2004 The Chasm and beyond. This is ultimately the elevator pitch version of what actually occurs but you get my drift, there is a rocking n’ jogging feeling to the song which is arguably more relevant to circa 1996 melodic death metal to some degree but this sensation flies out the window around ~3:50 minutes in as the guitarists build up to what is essentially a riff ripped directly from Daniel Corchado‘s repertoire circa 2009 to present. Though it interrupts the moment and doesn’t transition particularly well this moment works as the apex of the thought and catches the ear in an effective way. The rest of the first half of the album continues to explore what I’d consider the fallout beyond Alf Svensson‘s songcraft from 1990-1994 with some considerable heft given to the hexed tarantella of “Puritanical Dementia” and a beauteous hand given to the meticulous yet violent “Tainting the Sky with Red” wherein the spikier edges of their interest in both ‘Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious‘ level tech-turn on a dime meets the flowing hot drive of ‘Terminal Spirit Disease‘ era guitar language. Yes, we could sum this up as a nods given to the intensely underrated Intestine Baalism and to some degree the still virtually unknown Amorbital (see: “The Hollow Blue Eyes of Yomi at Twilight”), whom the band happily reference in press materials.

Riffing in tongues. — Sold! Right? If you’ve spent as much time as I have digging through the heart of melodic death metal looking for bands that’d retained the “edge” of classic death metal and incorporated pronounced melodicism in unforgettably stylized ways then you’d quickly recognize the rare breed which breaches the surface on ‘From Which Nightmares Crawl‘. If the mere mention of a record like ‘Invidia‘ has you geeking out of your mind you’ve probably the same amount of respect for those long-lost and much later rediscovered deeper cut nodes of melodic death metal. This is clear enough indication that Carlson and crew are coming from a place of well-investigated taste, a dark melodic-yet-brutal obsession showcased throughout their debut. That said, I don’t know that they’ve come out of it having done more than prove that they can meet a very high standard of stylized performance within a by default glorious niche. It’ll be a stretch for some to consider the full listen of this LP inconsistent while intrenched in the long-lasting glow of induction but with repeated listens I’d found the pairing of the glum, somewhat aimless by comparison kicking of “So Envenomed, Enshrined” with the spirited “Legacy of the Impaler” does a fine job of showing how average some of these ideas land in their somewhat unrelated threads and how brilliantly others line up. Though not everything Sacrilegion finds the same level of intrigue, they could’ve cut one or two pieces, the full listen ultimately convinces that it is worth repeating.

The second half of the album more or less blazes past as they continue to trade-off between somewhat straight forward circa ’93 old school death metal pieces pair with more involved songs. The simple yet memorable “Transfixed in Spiral Ambiguity” and the Apoplexy circa ’95-esque riffs found on the otherwise heavy metal stamping of “The Hollow Blue Eyes of Yomi at Twilight” highlight this second half, framing the peak of the album in a strong way. For my own taste the final two pieces beyond that point are no less brilliant but they read a bit redundant outside of the ‘Symbolic‘-sized riff that kicks off the closer. The bigger point to be made in retrospect of the full listen after countless spins through is that this is a melodic death metal album for pure ‘old school’ death metal fandom, not the folks who wear it like fashion while they hardcore dance but folks who’ve invested in their own taste and seek finest revisions and meditations upon tradition.

Though Sacrilegion had already won me as a fan with their demo several years back there’d been no guarantee, or real signal that ‘From Which Nightmares Crawl‘ would arrive as complete and accomplished as it has. Per my own fandom they’d compounded and confirmed any suspicions of greatness by the third or fourth song on this debut and more-or-less carried that feeling through the length of the album. Only a few small notes of criticism remain nagging at this point, such as the somewhat artificial cymbal work on the drums and the melodic side of the band yet being no match for the profundity and pomp of the true underground classics, but overall this one gets high marks for its inspired and proper meticulous execution. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (83/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
ARTIST:SACRILEGION
TITLE:From Which Nightmares Crawl
LABEL(S):Chaos Records
RELEASE DATE:December 9th, 2022

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