Sermon of Flames’s first full length presents a spectrum of shades. The record “I Have Seen the Light, and It Was Repulsive” released on I, Voidhanger records makes a phenomenal impression. Although this isn’t the regular Death Metal affair, Sermon of Flames put together elements of Black & Sludge which enhances the experience greatly. The album opens with ‘To Behead One’s Desire’ a short creepy atmospheric track with muffled vocals to support, at just 1 minute in length, this acts a fantastic introduction to the things lined up. As we move to ‘Cauldrons of Boiling Piss’ the band is at their angriest. The thick smoke of hate coupled with incessant drumming elevate the sound. This is a dirty, ugly slab of metal with a significant deviation. The band is not happy with the established songwriting norms, they churn their burning vision with the crudest elements available at their disposal and churn it inside out. Again, this is just a 2 minute song which leaves such an impression. As we move on to ‘Chords Wrung From the Ribs of the Earth’ the band is comfortable and marches on.
Sermon of Flames’s brand of death metal is clearly devoid of light whilst paying homage to the greats of dissonance. The rhythm doesn’t stick to a pattern, it evolves by the minute and the guitars entwine their harsh output to the rhythm like a snake suffocating its prey by the minute and the band literally juxtapose that ambience onto their sound. There is a sense of urgency, a literate composure of loss. Although all the songs swing towards higher tempos, the band beautifully strikes a chord with small passages that dissociate you with ache only to immerse you back with vengeance. Track 4, ‘I//H//D//O//D//E//S//I//W//A//C’ is a clear example, although hinging on the traditional approach, the rhythm isn’t your run of the mill. These are the areas the drumming absolutely shines through, mixing approaches and tempos creating an independent monster in the mix, they stand out on the album.
Whilst the riffs themselves mould into a sludge of heaviness coupled with ugliness, the band uses them effectively as charon uses a row across Styx. Navigating through the denseness of banality, bereft of oxygen and in a semi consciousness state adding the built up imagery to the overall arsenal, Sermon of Flames manage to conjure a dark vision for themselves and execute it well. I immensely enjoy the short tracks, it’s like an incantation for every step of the journey, sometimes dense, sometimes like a fading trail of scent. My favourite track of the album is ‘Vacuous & Disjointed’ a traditional Death Metal track onto which the band puts a chant of murky sludge slowly dragging the weight of their output to the pyre. The drumming does the job of rhythmic chants here, brimming with a tone to counteract all positivity, it sets a path of ritualistic mantra that draws away all positivity. I have to say Sermon of Flames has released a phenomenal slab and is one of the contenders for the album of the year for me. I like everything about this release, the way it’s mixed, the songwriting, the delicate juxtaposition of human vision with the atmosphere and finally the execution. I’m hoping they play live someday and I get to see them, for now, I’m going to order a CD. If you’re thinking about it, give them your time and you will not be disappointed.