Monday, December 9, 2013


Sapientia - Through the First Sphere of Saturnus
Lamech Records, 2012
Genre: Black Metal

1. Overture
2. The Primeval Ocean
3. Agnosco
4. Sphere
5. 32
6. Ad Infinitum

"Through the First Sphere of Saturnus" was originally released on cassette in 2012, but since I was a little late in hearing of Lamech Records, I ended up getting the vinyl edition released in 2013.  The vinyl edition is probably the one I would prefer anyway, simply because it has been remastered, so I imagine the music quality is a little bit higher than the original release.  The artwork is truly beautiful and makes it well worth the purchase.  Inside you'll find a poster and a small pamphlet which features the lyrics.  The vinyl edition is limited to 250 copies and the cassette was limited to 100 copies.

Based on the art work I was sort of expecting that occult styled Black Metal found in Sweden in the veins of Ondskapt or Mortuus.  Sapientia is absolutely not that, so if you were expecting copiers, you got something fairly different.  The opening track "Overture" starts us off with an extremely slow paced introduction to the album, it almost borders on Doom. This would, actually, be fairly indicative of what to expect on this release. The first two tracks are virtually the same for me and could run as one long song.  The pacing of the music is extremely slow and plodding, yet the guitars are played very fast.  The pacing comes from the drums and vocalist.  Where we would normally have blast beats to match the guitar, instead we have very slow drumming creating that "false sense" of slow in relation to the guitars.  You'll hear other Black Metal bands do this from time to time, but usually it's meant to emphasize a particular guitar section, on here it's the whole song, so nothing really gets emphasized.  In some ways this succeeds in creating that sort of crushing atmosphere you'd get from Doom Metal, but I am not terribly into that atmosphere.  So if you really like Doom, you will probably enjoy these first two songs quite a bit, since they are a very strange take on Black Metal.

The first two tracks are epic in length, over eight minutes each, but then the last three are practically a different band altogether.  The last three are what I was expecting based on the art work, for the most part.  They still infuse that slow pacing at times, but here we have all the blast beats and standard fare of Black Metal.  The strange slow pacing from the first two songs really breaks up the sections of the Black Metal songs.  It gives "32" a much more haunting feel and the "weight" of the slow pacing is actually a lot more stark.  The vocal performance overall is very different, there are no high range Black Metal vocals at all, instead the vocals are very deep and guttural. These are the type you would find on a Brutal Death Metal release, not on a Black Metal project. For the most part they work, but the lack of dynamics does nothing for the first two songs, which is another reason they really run together for me. However, I think that contributes to the weight of the atmosphere and they wind up just crushing the listener.

In the end I'm not sure I was very into the Sapientia release. I like music that is mesmerizing and flows well, but Sapientia didn't do that for me.  I think a lot of that has to do with my lack of response to the Doom Metal atmosphere, which is probably why I'm not very into that genre.  Given the fact that it feels like we have two albums here, I will be interested to see what Sapientia plan to do in the future as their writing matures.  Which direction will they take?  I quite enjoyed "32" and even "Sphere" was quite good, but I would like to see their writing mature and become refined.  Sapientia are trying fairly different things and combining them cohesively is always a challenge for a band.  However, if you are a fan of Doom Metal and Black Metal, this is probably the project you've always wanted, because it isn't necessarily just a Doom/Black Metal approach that I've heard form other projects.

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