From the crusty realms to the mountains of doom!
A truly important entity that managed to carve their own individualistic sound from the get-go with this abrasive crust/punk/hardcore/thrash “madness” that was their debut. The sophomore continued consolidating their reputation as a less ordinary band the guys (and a girl) insisting on their hypnotic, monolithic mid-paced delivery without any unnecessary flourishes. Speed was out of the question, but one hardly needed it in this particular case as the band were the requisite antidote to the myriads of fast-paced riffmongers with which the scene had started filling in.
The year is 1989, and Sacrilege’s third opus is a fact. What has changed on this “trilobite”, you may wonder? No change would have been perfect since the band had already established a fairly individualistic approach to the genre, with a loyal following… Well, there was no end to evolution, and here is the biggest surprise: this is a doom metal recording showing an obvious fascination with the works of the Swedish heroes Candlemass and Mercy, and of course the fathers of all things doom Black Sabbath. Not much left from their ultimately charming, unclean, rough dirgy thrash; the production has been polished down to the -D-, and “Father Time” is the officiant stomping opener with Lynda Simpson showing her more lyrical vocal side. More energetic gallops appear later to remind of the band’s past glories, but the dark doom-laden riffage remains unperturbed by those deviations. “Silent Dark” is doom at its most shining best, a hymn that would have been a highlight even on “Nightfall” (Candlemass), an enchanting symbiosis of melody and heaviness that relies on the gallop again for the more dynamic additive although later on more aggressive, nearly thrashy, rhythms make themselves heard. Not to worry as this is doom metal all the same with a more brutal engine akin to Candlemass’ “Ancient Dreams”.
“Soul Seacrh” begins in a most alluring balladic manner with gorgeous melodic leads Simpson sounding more romantic and benevolent as the elegiac tone of this anthem is nowhere broken save for an isolated galloping “raid” near the end. “Awaken!” is the forgotten Sabbath track, most likely a leftover from “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”, a frolic doomster at its most volatile, the staple gallops “roaming” around for the umpteenth time with great lead sections adding enchanting Oriental atmosphere to the proceedings. “Key to Nirvana” is the next in line outstanding piece, a steady steam-rolling mid-pacer without any fast-paced embellishments, the “key” to the 12-min behemoth “The Sea of Tranquillity” that follows which indeed has a most tranquil introduction, 2.5-min of serene balladisms before the doom hits, an elegiac mournful hymn with amazing leads, more balladic beauty, angelic Simpson behind the mike, and a spellbinding melodic epitaph. “Equinox” has the ungrateful task to close this saga after such a thoroughly depleting number, but the band pull themselves together for the last time to produce a closing antediluvian wrap-on with sudden Shrapnel-like lead pyrotechnics introduced mid-way which also inaugurate the speedy escapade here that lasts till the end.
It took a crust/thrashcore outfit to remember the glorious past of British metal, and bring it up to the front in all its lustre. And not only, but even after all these years this album stands as one of the five finest products of the UK sizeable doom metal movement. It single-handedly elevated the doom consciousness in England in order to make acts like My Dying Bride, Cathedral, Serenity, Solitude, Mourn and Acrimony possible. They could have fitted so well into the tsunami of doom metal practitioners that started a mere few years later… I guess it was mission accomplished for them once the doom revolution was started, and they may have felt like they had nothing more to give to the metal world…