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Sermon – Till Birth Do Us Part

Till Birth Do Us Part
by Gary Hernandez at 06 March 2023, 1:55 AM

SERMON is a Gothic/Doom Metal band out of Izmir, Turkey. They formed as far back as 1997, released a string of demos, had some lineup changes, broke up, and then reformed in 2021. On February 10 they released their debut full-length album, “Till Birth Do Us Part,” via Bitume Records. That’s 26 years, if you’re counting, and still 26 even if you aren’t counting.

Surprisingly, none of the nine tracks from their three demos appear on the album, so this is pretty much all new material . . . which is impressive. The songs show a significant amount of maturity and musical cohesion, especially for a debut album. The musical aesthetic is more melodic Gothic than bluesy or sludgy Doom. It resonates with a funereal darkness but benefits from a slightly upbeat tempo it borrows from its melodic leanings. Although there are bars of haunting dissonance, the overall feel is grim triumph. Like the cover (artwork by Marcus Ganahl) which depicts a stone Madonna haloed by a nuclear dawn, the music connotes a harsh, dichotic mercy. The Madonna—half evil dead, half Mother Mary—cradles/shelters a human child, sound asleep and blissfully unaware of the evil blooming behind his polarized guardian. Similarly, the music is swathed in harmony and lush layering, but its subject matter is all but.

There are a number of things that could have gone wrong with this album but didn’t. For instance, the programmed drumming was a big red flag for me but ended up not getting in the way at all. Either the programming was great, or my ears aren’t as discerning as I thought. Next was the synths. With Gothic bands there is always the risk of the synths veering into superfluous symphonic, but thankfully that doesn’t happen here. Instead the synth elements do what they should do—build atmosphere, add tension, and provide an undercurrent to the predominant themes. Vibes suggesting hauntings, betrayals, and decaying remorse all come through, adding a dark texture to already somber tunage. And finally, as the name SERMON would suggest, there are several instances of spoken narrative. Spoken word can either advance and support a storyline or derail everything with a heavy dose of cheesiness. In this case, it supplements rather than subtracts from the overall Doom effect.

There are several standout tracks on this album. My picks are “Posthumous,” “Destined to Decline,” and “Jupiterian Effect.” These three represent some of the longest tracks on the album. I guess I’m a sucker for the more elaborate compositions, but I did appreciate the multiple movements and the sense of depth. I also really enjoyed “Sliver Splinter,” especially for the juxtaposition of its visceral declarations against its emotive conclusion. The contrasts that exist throughout this album are exquisite.

Overall, “Till Birth Do Us Part” is an intriguing album. Melodic Metal fans of all types will enjoy this, but particularly fans of Gothic Metal. Of course, a female soprano would be astounding but perhaps too predictable. As it stands, SERMON has produced an excellent debut. Highly recommended, this one.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Posthumous
2. Sliver/Splinter
3. Flawless Entropy
4. Requitement
5. Cerulean
6. Destined to Decline
7. Gnostic Dissensus
8. The Jupiterian Effect
Durmuş Kalin – Guitars (lead), keyboards, drum programming
Cem Barut – Guitars (rhythm)
Harun Altun – Vocals (lead)
Record Label: Bitume


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