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Sallow – I: The Great Work

Sallow
I: The Great Work
by Lauren Fonto at 20 May 2017, 2:03 AM

“I: The Great Work” is the first demo by New York black metallers SALLOW. While it was released in 2015, the demo is of course very much relevant to people such as myself who are discovering this band for the first time. While SALLOW retains ties to the older Norwegian-style sound, an impulse of pushing away from black metal’s centre pervades this release.

A main lyrical theme here is suffering and destruction as conduits to rebirth and something better. While many black metal bands have offered up a Satan and gore bravado, the lyrics here come across as sincere, thus adding depth to the music. The mix is mostly crisp, without polishing away the coldness which seeps through the tracks. “Naked In Moonlit Bliss, Drunk On Fire” and “Der Winter Kalt” have a triumphant feel to them; the vocals on the former add to a feeling of embracing destruction. The slower parts on “Der Winter Kalt” conjure images of wandering lost in a forest, but then the furious, stormy riffs and blast beats remind one of nature’s potential destructiveness. And when the main riff kicked in on “Nocturnal Reprieve”, I was reminded of DARKTHRONE’s “Transilvanian Hunger”. Rather than just being mere mimicry, the riff comes across as a nod to an older sound. While the band has distinct ties to this older sound, there’s an impression of pushing forwards with a more modern black metal sound.

SALLOW is not turning black metal on its head, yet a fiery passion shines through and adds something special to the familiar elements. They keep things varied throughout the album, both in pacing and structure –furious blast beats, vocals that sound like darkness stealing over the land, and wistful acoustic passages all make an appearance, and everything pulls together really well.

I felt that a good deal of planning and care went into the making of this demo, and that SALLOW has released a fully realized piece of work. This demo was released alongside “II: Corpses and Ruins”, further cementing their musical vision.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Memorability: 8
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Naked In Moonlit Bliss, Drunk On Fire
2. Awaiting Black Flames
3. Nocturnal Reprieve
4. Der Winter Kalt
Lineup:
KOTGOTT, THE CYNIC – Vocals, guitar
EDIMMU – Guitar, bass
PUGNA – Drums
Guests:
M.K.P.S. – Bass (Nocturnal Reprieve)
LYNCH – Keyboards (Der Winter Kalt)
Record Label: Sick Man Getting Sick Records
     


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Edited 23 September 2017
 

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