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Unholy Sermon - "The Sacrificial Rite" (CD)

Unholy Sermon - "The Sacrificial Rite" CD cover image

"The Sacrificial Rite" track listing:

1. Virgin Sacrifice (Intro) (2:46)
2. Demonic Call to Play (5:42)
3. Priests from Babylon (4:10)
4. Crucifix in Fire (3:08)
5. Bleed for the Gods of War (Blind Folded) (6:34)
6. Hamartia (5:16)
7. Personifying Procrastination (9:16)

Reviewed by on August 19, 2011

"Although suffering from a bit of an identity crisis, Unholy Sermon’s debut album has enough epic and atmospheric content to outweigh the lower sound quality and the lull of the first few tracks."

Bringing the Sri Lankan metal scene out to the wider world, Unholy Sermon shows a series of successively changing sounds on debut full-length, “The Sacrificial Rite.” The band name and album title might give off the wrong impression at first about the music, for while there’s plenty of black metal going on with the vocals and some of the atmosphere, this really isn’t a black metal release. Trying to make its own path and be more than one single genre can contain, “The Sacrificial Rite” meshes together different styles, and doesn’t throw in any of the traditional instruments or ethnic sounds that might be expected from a band that hails from a place that isn’t well known for metal.

With the many different styles to be found on the album, the whole product ends up being a bit of a mixed bag. The opening track immediately raises interest with bongo style beats, keyboards, and soaring guitar riffs. What becomes apparent very quickly after the promising opening is that the majority of the guitar work is actually based in thrash, and not black or death metal.

The strong thrash presence works well in some instances, but in others it doesn’t make as much sense with the croaked black metal vocals. The mixing of the vocals with the other instruments could also use a good deal of rearranging, as the sound quality obviously isn’t what would be found from a big name band. Overall, the second through fourth tracks drag quite a bit with poor pacing and a good deal of repetition.

“Bleed for the Gods of War (Blind Folded)” marks a significant upswing for the album, using the different musical influences in a more engaging way that has much better pace, tone, and direction. Black metal screams finally mesh well with the energetic thrash attack, and the song legitimately leads to a desire to throw up the horns and head bang. The track dips into melodic death metal in parts, and throws in a series of interesting horseback combat style sounds. “Hamartia” then suddenly swerves into atmospheric and soaring-riff territory again, with whispered vocals and odd keyboard effects showing up out of nowhere and making a listener wonder why these tools weren’t utilized before this point.

Although suffering from a bit of an identity crisis, Unholy Sermon’s debut album has enough epic and atmospheric content to outweigh the lower sound quality and the lull of the first few tracks. When the musicians hit their stride on the second half of the disc they make metal well worth hearing, and it seems like the band can only get better from here.

Highs: “Bleed for the Gods of War (Blind Folded)” and “Hamartia” make the mix of thrash, black, and death metal work well.

Lows: Lower end sound quality and an identity crisis make several of the tracks skippable.

Bottom line: The Sri Lankan metal outfit mixes together thrash, black metal, and even a little melo-death for its debut full-length album.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 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)