Label: Consouling Sounds
Whilst there’s obviously nothing wrong with the artier and more subtle strands of metal, sometimes all you’re after is something straight to the point. There’s something to be said for a direct display of strength and power, which is where Belgian duo SarsoniS come in. They don’t so much strip doom and stoner to their roots, as they follow through to the obvious conclusion. III – their third album – features no vocals, no technical self-indulgence, and barely an ounce of musical fat. This is metal that is all about the riffs, the drums, and the glorious way they work together to crush your skull.
The closest that III comes to subtlety is the hazy, desert-tinged introduction to opening track “The Coming Of Khan”, but this is simply the calm before the storm, as the shimmering melodies give way to pounding, forceful metal. The drums roll like the charge of a marauding army, whilst the guitars are full of raw, undeniable power. Whilst there’s no displays of overt technicality and progressive intricacy, there is still a certain something in the way SardoniS combine the core elements of metal to make for something so captivating that is inherently creative. The way that different riffs and movements flow in to one another – not just on this track, but throughout the album – speaks of a lot of time spent ensuring the songs work as actual songs, rather than aimless collections of riffs and drum patterns. High On Fire and Acid King are the most obvious points of comparison, with SardoniS achieving a similar kind of beautiful, stripped-down heaviness. The band are no newcomers, with a string of EPs and splits as well as previous albums, and their experience shows.
The way the songs form a narrative, without use of vocals, is also a major plus. “Battering Ram” is a prime example of this, with its shifts in tempos and focus, as well as the right amount of repeated movements, though it’s hardly an isolated example. Nor is it all about (relatively) up-tempo riffs and drums; the opening minutes of “Roaming The Valley” demonstrate that SaridoniS can command the slow as well as the heavy, though it’s not too long until we’re back into more driving tempos. Likewise, closer “Forward To The Abyss” opens in mournful fashion and maintains that vibe throughout, even when the tempo picks up later in to the song.
Key to the success of III is that the band don’t over-do things. It’s relatively short, at 38 minutes, and whilst all five tracks are roughly over the 6 minute mark, they don’t feel bloated – almost everything that can be cut and trimmed down has been (well, within reason – we are talking about stoner/doom, after all). It ensures that III is quite a ride, topped off with a bit of a come-down for a conclusion, but it’s one that you’ll want to come back to again and again. And it’s no wonder the band tour so much – as great as it is on record, the music on III must be absolutely killer live. Delightfully, unashamedly heavy.