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Sargeist - "Feeding the Crawling Shadows" (CD)

Sargeist - "Feeding the Crawling Shadows" CD cover image

"Feeding the Crawling Shadows" track listing:

1. Feeding the Crawling Shadows
2. In Charnel Dreams
3. Unto the Undead Temple
4. Snares of Impurity
5. Return of the Rats
6. The Unspoken Ones
7. The Shunned Angel
8. Inside the Demon's Maze
9. Kingdom Below
10. Funerary Descent

Reviewed by on March 14, 2014

"There’s a reason why many black metal bands old and new have been expanding their sound and going in new directions, and Sargeist’s latest full-length “Feeding The Crawling Shadows” is a case study in why that genre stretching is necessary."

There’s a reason why many black metal bands, old and new, have been expanding their sound and going in new directions, and Sargeist’s latest full-length “Feeding The Crawling Shadows” is a case study in why that genre stretching is necessary. These ten tracks have the classic black metal elements down – the rage, the cold blackness, the mesmerizing fuzzy atmosphere – but they also require the English language to invent a new word, because “repetitive” doesn’t even begin to cover how unlistenable half the album is.

Like the European originators did in the days of blackened yore, “Feeding The Crawling Shadows” is a big wall of fuzz with a relentless barrage of blasting beats and the same damn riff over and over on any given track. There are a few changes across the album, like the up-tempo and more energetic “Unto The Undead Temple,” but that’s the exception and not the rule. The album as a whole is incredibly chaotic – which to be fair some black metal purists will absolutely love – but it gets to the point that much of the disc just sounds like a juxtaposition of random loud noises.

It’s not entirely clear why there are lyrics, since a listener will be lucky to catch a word here and there every few sentences, as the vocals are not only indiscernible, they are completely buried in the mix. On the upside of that, at least there’s some variety in the vocals, as Sargeist goes with two different styles – a fast paced, higher pitched shriek and a slower, lower battering ram of a guttural growl.

Despite all these problems, there’s an odd phenomena that occurs when you let go and lose yourself in the maelstrom of sound that is “Feeding The Crawling Shadows.” Pop on the headphones, close your eyes, and after awhile that wall of fuzz becomes all-encompassing and starts to make sense in a hypnotic way, which is the redeeming feature and main attraction to old school black metal of this variety.

Long story short: the album has all the typical tropes and issues you’d have with any kvlt, old-school black metal release. You’ve got to really work to pick out the bass, and frequently it just sounds like a rumbling in the background that’s more like reverb coming off the guitar than its own instrument. The drums are relentlessly repetitive, and the production makes the vocals a wave of sound that can’t be made out at all. If you dig that historic black metal sound, by all means pick the album up, but if you’d like anything approaching innovation or melody, you can safely pass this one.

Highs: In the right frame of mind you can lose yourself in the wall of sound.

Lows: It's the same old school black metal assault you've heard a thousand times before.

Bottom line: Black metal purists will probably dig this, but the endless repetition, fuzzy wall of sound, and total lack of innovation make it non-starter for anyone else.

Rated 2 out of 5 skulls
2 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)