Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Full Length Review: Sermon "Till Birth Do Us Part" (Bitume Prods) by Dave Wolff

Band: Sermon
Location: İzmir
Country: Turkey
Genre: Death/doom metal
Full length: Till Birth Do Us Part
Format: CD, digital
Label: Bitume Prods, also Earache Records (digital)
Release date: February 10, 2023
During my interview with guitarist Cem Barut last month, I learned enough about the band's struggle to gain recognition inside and outside their native Turkey that I wanted to see where their music is heading for myself. From the way he described Sermon, I expected an album that pieced death metal and doom metal together in the places where they could met. I got this and much more as their method of atmosphere, strings, and other refinements to transform the ensemble of "Till Birth Do Us Part" into a massive transcendent orchestra with nothing more than their resources at their disposal surprised me most.
If you’ve listened to death-doom metal with an attentive, discerning ear for a long time, it’s evident that Sermon spent tremendous thought and execution into songwriting and arrangement, and the process of recording the, to create an imperishable first impression on heavy music aficionados. Moreso, their desired sound was achieved with their own equipment in a private recording studio rather than professional, using their intuition and skill rather than the latest technology to make it as far from typical death-doom as possible. You wouldn’t expect this from an environment with limited resources, but it did all the same.
According to Barut, he and the band declined to draw inspiration from Turkish culture while they worked on the album. It would have been interesting to see them at some point incorporate some native music from Turkey, given the number of bands who have done the same. Despite this, Sermon still displays sufficient amounts of imagination to make up for it. Inspiration from Swedish and Finnish melodic death metal most productively fit gradual doomy progressions evocative of well-known bands like Trouble and Candlemass. Pieced together appropriately, this is only the canvas upon which the band chooses to paint.
In addition to Entombed and Paradise Lost, I hear Anathema and My Dying Bride in Sermon’s use of keyboards and strings. Usually used to introduce or enhance verses and choruses, these are the first elements adding to their solid foundation of melodic death and doom. In example, the otherworldly keyboards opening "Posthumous" are a perfect foreshadowing of the cold atmospheric keyboards and atmospheric lead guitars that follow. This sound is repeated throughout as bluesy solos and subtle vocal harmonies add new dimensions to the monumental guitars, bass and harsh percussion with sudden, abrupt fills. Whether or not the band intended this, it gives "Till Birth Do Us Part" a similar vibe to black and Viking metal a la Enslaved and Borknagar.
A wall of sound this large requires powerful vocals that consistently carry above the instruments delivering this musicianship in such an inventive manner. As Harun Altun projects brutal death growls that are often underscored by fine-drawn melodic singing, you get that experience here. Altun's former vocal style illustrates his skill at delivering it in the correct manner, from deep within the gut rather than from the throat. Projecting death metal vocals from that area is necessary to blend with the backing musicianship, with the exact same techniques of melodic vocalists, to maintain strong, clear diction from beginning to end. All in all, this album demonstrates how much Sermon deserve the attention they’re getting outside their home country. –Dave Wolff

Harun Altun: Vocals
Durmuş Kalın: Lead guitars, keyboards, drum programming
Cem Barut: Rhythm guitars

Track list:
1. Posthumous
2. Silver Splinter
3. Flawless Entropy
4. Requitement
5. Cerulean
6. Destined To Decline
7. Gnostic Disensus
8. The Jupiterian Effect

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