Sargeist – “The Shunned Angel” (Stereogum Premiere)
Compared to neighboring Norway and Sweden, the Finish black metal scene is relatively small, yet vital, and its roots run deep: Seminal bands like Beherit, Archgoat, and Impaled Nazarene date back to 1989-’90 (by way of context, Dark Throne’s first black metal album was released in 1992) and are responsible for some of the genre’s defining work. And the next wave of Finnish bands included two especially notable ones: Horna and Behexen, who formed in 1993 and 1994, respectively — and still are active today — and whose intertwined lineups help make up the bedrock of Finland’s black metal community.
Horna was founded by Ville “Shatraug” Pystynen, whose resume includes membership in 23 bands and counting (including Behexen, since 2009), along with having run two independent record labels. Surely the most successful of Shatraug’s projects, though, is Sargeist, which he started as a solo venture in 1999, before recruiting a full band over the next couple years. Today that band includes two founding (and still-active) members of Behexen — vocalist Hoath Torog and drummer Horns — as well as Horna drummer Vainaja, who plays bass in Sargeist. (There’s so much crossover between Horna, Behexen, and Sargeist that most festival bookings include two of the three bands. For example, the last installment of Montreal’s Messe Des Morts festival featured both Horna and Sargeist, while the upcoming Martyrdoom festival in Brooklyn will present both Sargeist and Behexen.) The three full-length albums thus far released by Sargeist are largely revered, and justifiably so: Like much of their country’s black metal exports, Sargeist display a devotion to the genre’s sonic and thematic roots — no-fi, Satan — with an emphasis on riffs and hooks that feels uniquely Finnish. It is, perhaps, the sound of the genre at its essence, maybe the apotheosis of pure black metal: equally caustic and enthralling, murky and atmospheric yet viscerally bludgeoning.
Sargeist are set to release their fourth LP — and first since 2010 — Feeding The Crawling Shadows, and it’s great: a blurring, blistering thing of howling agony and adrenaline highs, all built around and resultant from Shatraug’s colossal riffs and furious playing. We’ve got a track for you to stream today, “The Shunned Angel.” Fair warning if you’re listening on headphones: There’s no buildup to this thing — it kicks in violently and loudly at the 0:00 mark, builds momentum and force from there, and peaks hard on the soaring instrumental bridge which hits at about 2:30. Listen.
Feeding The Crawling Shadows is out 3/31 via W.T.C. Productions. Pre-order it here.
Feeding The Crawling Shadows tracklist:
01 “Feeding The Crawling Shadows”
02 “In Charnel Dreams”
03 “Unto The Undead Temple”
04 “Snares Of Impurity”
05 “Return Of The Rats”
06 “The Unspoken Ones”
07 “The Shunned Angel”
08 “Inside The Demon’s Maze”
09 “Kingdom Below”
10 “Funerary Descent”