"Blessed Be My Brothers"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Anybody out there recall the name of Mithras? At one time they were heavily hyped to be the saviors of British death metal, if not the entire genre. I thoroughly enjoyed their combination of annihilating Morbid Angel style DM with cosmic spaciness and even managed to interview them. But they couldn't keep a stable line-up and vanished into the great misty void of "Might-Have-Been".

The spirit of Mithras lives on in new band Sarpanitum. Anybody who heard Mithras will immediately recognize their unique lead guitar stylings in Sarpanitum. Check out the solos on "I Defy For I Am Free" and "Glorification Upon the Powdered Bones of the Su" ...those "fluty" arpeggios are right out of the Mithras playbook. Indeed, Mithras drummer and mastermind Leon Macey is part of Sarpanitum. But if anything, Sarpanitum is more brutal, faster and less spacy than Mithras. They are still some cool atmospheric interludes like "Homeland" and "Immortalized as Golden Spires", but the focus is on tornadic speed...really, to the point of exhaustion. The drumming wears you out.

Like Mithras, Sarpanitum is very much a thinking man's death metal band. Some of the riffing and technical flourishes will make your head spin...the title track and "Thy Sermon Lies Forever Tarnished" are mind-boggling assaults of strange riffing. But the subject matter is also atypical. The band lyrically seems focused on the religious wars and hypocrisy of the Crusades. I'd love to check out a lyric sheet for this one.

The band also has members of Tenebrous Aeon and Lantlos. The Lantlos connection surprises me, because Sarpanitum has ZERO resemblance to the atmospheric black metal of Lantlos. On the whole, I like Sarpanitum a lot, although not as much as Mithras. They fit the Willowtip label like a glove and it does a body good to hear this kind of sophisticated but brutal death.