Sacramentum- Far Away from the Sun (1996)

Traditional yet chilling early 90's Swedish black metal artwork

The inaugural “Buried by Time and Dust” selection is Swedish black metal band, Sacramentum’s, debut album “Far Away from the Sun”. The reason I decided to unearth this particular sleeper album, was, in fact, because of a forthcoming release by Thulcandra entitled “Under a Frozen Sun”, which is slated to come out September 30th this year, much to my excitement. Thulcandra being the side project of the lead singer/guitar player for progressive technical death metal outfit Obscura, you may wonder how it connects back to this week’s “Buried” selection, which I will now explain.

If the term early 90’s Swedish melodic black/death metal means anything to you, you are most likely a fan of, or at least have knowledge of Dissection. Dissection was a band adhering to just such a lengthy description. They were pioneers, constructing melodies that evoked images of frozen wastelands dotted with ice kingdoms, chilling high pitch tremelo riffs cut through the blackened fury like razory cold winds across the aforementioned wastelands. The revolutionary part of it within the black metal scene, was that it had outstanding clean production and amazing technical flashiness, unlike their intentionally neolithic Norwegian brethren at the time. Since they were one of the first of their kind, blazing the genre’s untread path, they cast a remarkably large shadow that enveloped all other bands trying to make a name for themselves writing the same kind of music. The fact that the band had multiple incidents with the law, including the lead singer and primary song writer, Jon Nödtveidt’s arrest after murdering a homosexual, and also later on commiting suicide aided to their immense amount of media attention.

Where the recently formed Thulcandra comes into play, is that their music is basically an outlet for Obscura front man Steffen Kummerer’s desire to create that exact form of music, attempting to at least sonically continue Dissection’s legacy. Adorned with artwork by the same album artist, “Necrolord”, who also did much of Dissection’s artwork, they even perform a cover of Dissection’s “The Somberlain” on their debut “Fallen Angel’s Dominion”, and they do it better than anyone in the genre.

What brings all of this full circle, is that Sacramentum is one of those bands that played music within that same genre, played it very skillfully, but because this was released just one year after “The Storm of Light’s Bane”, happened to get lost in the aether. I haven’t looked up album sales or anything, but come on, how many people have heard of Dissection, and how many people have heard of Sacramentum? It’s no contest, in favor of the former, despite the latter’s debut being just as solid as any release of the scene and time, even better than some of the more famous bands that were also birthed in Dissection’s wake (we’re glaring at you Dark Funeral).

“Far Away from the Sun” is an epic, multidimensional journey through the many hollows and over the very mountains of the same God-forsaken tundra of Hoth that Dissection, Thulcandra, Dark Funeral, Unanimated and other contemporaries drew inspiration from. Instead of being the lead sled dog as they should have been, they were buried in a snow drift and now no longer exist after just 3 full length recordings.

My advice for you, reader, is to get your hands on “Far Away…” and take a wintertime drive through the back country, and bask in the epic glory of a somber track such as “Cries from a Restless Soul” with its almost DSBM style lead tremelo riff that echoes like so many snow storms through mountain framed valleys of Immortal’s mastubatory fantasies. Let the music carry you; play “Beyond all Horizons”, the opening clean guitar leads will serenade you into a quiet introspective of mental fog just as the cascading icesicles of the rhythm guitar tear you from your gaze into the void, thrusting you back into the fray of blasting and furious riffing. A few of the songs, including this one, have folky vibes to some of the guitar riffs,  much like the hook lead from Dissection’s “Where Dead Angel’s Lie”.

If the genre I have just described and lead you through is one that you have experienced before, then you absolutely must check out this release. Even better, if you have never listened to 90’s swedish black metal, then this is the perfect introduction. Cold as Darkthrone, yet polished and well produced as any Bloodbath or Morbid Angel release. To end the first “Buried by Time and Dust” entry, take my suggestion; get this album as well as the new Thulcandra this Friday, and while you are at it, pick up Dissection’s “Storm of Light’s Bane”. Don’t listen to them all in a row though, you WILL freeze to death.

-Chaz 9/27/2011 12:52 pm

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