Sangus – Saevitia (2014)

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Sangus is a relatively new Black Metal/Crust hybrid out of Providence Rhode Island that has been leveling local audiences with show-stealing live performances. Luckily, they also translate well to recorded audio. The band features members hailing from all over the gamut of underground metal: Vovk (vocals) formerly of grind bands Paindriver and Ulcer, Executioner (drums) who also plays in black metal outfit Haxen, Barbarian (guitar) of the blackened doom band Churchburn, Vamakara (guitar) of the sludgy death-doom Sin of Angels, and Czarnobóg (bass) who used to play dirty black thrash in Nachzehrer. Looking at the pedigree of bands these guys have played in, the sound of Sangus makes total sense, the surprise being that apparently they had all been harboring some latent desire play something crusty.  Besides my own soft spot for the crust, I can say that their new album objectively and undeniably, rips.

 
Their previous EP Vengeful Brutality had a straight blackened crust/thrash vibe reminiscent of Dishammer, full of anthemic riffs found in more modern crust outfits. Brutal, yes, balls-out aggressive, yes, but also very much a rock and roll inflected sound. The new album Saevitia (Latin for cruelty), is a different animal. Sangus has traded a crusty black and roll sound for an album attitudinally aligned with bestial war metal, while still sounding somewhat displaced from the stylistic rudiments of the genre. If anything, the crust elements are more subdued and metallic than before, and overall this feels much more like a metal album than a punk album. They remain much more melodic than the likes of Revenge or Blasphemy, but the message, the relentless aural attack, and the near-grind pacing of the music put this album in rank with the best of modern war metal. The bloodthirsty attitude inspiring this album remains obvious throughout. They don’t concern themselves with the sharpening of swords, the vagaries of war, or pre-battle rituals, only the throes of violence in the midst of war. Not the impersonal war of the modern age but rather War of an epic and fantastical nature, where your killer somehow finds 30 seconds to raise his weapons to the sky, and shriek some barbarian screed, before driving two blades into your brain through your ears. This entire album pretty much exists in the moment between being cornered, and being epically fucking slaughtered.

 
The fact that the vocals are genuinely dripping with blood and hate helps keep the whole things from getting silly. In comparison to the previous album, Vovk’s vocals are mixed front and center, and he’s worked out a unique style of vocal delivery. Similar to the vocals in Burning Witch (although there is no doom anywhere on this album), Vovk’s shrieking vocals cut through everything else and are responsible for driving the songs forward. Most noticeable is the way the mixed English/Italian lyrics are delivered, with odd spacings between words and unusual choices for emphasis, which comes together as a peculiar dialect whose overall effect is pretty terrifying, and makes for a memorable listen. The instrumentation is no-nonsense, with the drummer making absolutely no unnecessary indulgences, and the guitars fluxing between stenchy grooves, raw thrash, and old school tremolo death mayhem. The guitar solos are short and dissonant, and every now and then, the guitars bring the song to an anthemic climax with a huge melodic riff, as is heard on the standout track “Live to Kill”. There is a 6 minute noise track at the end, that I can’t really speak to, but the 10 minutes of metal on this a album are brutal and fast, managing to stab in and pull out of before you have time to spit out your last words. Fans of the new Diocletian, later Darkthrone, and all things crust, black, thrash and death will be right at home with this album, kicking down the doors and lighting the walls on fire.

 

 

 

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– Arjun Ray

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