By Dr. Abner Mality
Ah, SARCATOR! The self-titled debut of these young Swedish lads made quite an impression on me with its near-perfect recreation of early 90's death/thrash in the mode of SEPULTURA, SODOM and old KREATOR. It was an impressive achievement for guys who were still in high school for the most part.
The band has grown up considerably on its sophomore album. Yes, they've lost some of that youthful naivete they had on the debut, but they have most definitely matured in other ways. While the first record was unadulterated thrash, "Alkahest" sees them venturing into melodic death metal realms and trying their hand at more epic songs. It's not immediately apparent, as first song "Ascent" is a ferocious blast of pure death that's wide open and brutal. But from there, things expand into melo-death territory that reminds me of bands like EDGE OF SANITY and the sadly ignored DESULTORY. "Perdition's Hand" is gnarly enough but with "Grave Maggot Future" (which I'm sure is a million laughs lyrically) there's a definite shift to more thoughtful and composed territory.
That's just the start. "Dreameater" really brings the new SARCATOR to the fore, with a longer song that combines thrashy speed with well-considered melody. Believe it or not, acoustic guitar plays a big part in "The Long Lost" and "He Who Comes From the Dark". Now don't be too put off, there's still plenty of crunch and fire there. Speaking of crunch, "Devil Sun" has some diabolically catchy mid-paced riffs. "Sorrow's Verge" is an instrumental where METALLICA overtones dominate.
Finally, the band's reach exceeds their grasp with the 10 minute long title track. This has got some definite points of interest, but the fact is, it's just too damn long and the attention flags before the acoustic ending. They bit off more than they could chew with this one.
But "Alkahest" is certainly a bold step for this young band to take. I don't mind the melodic elements as long as some blood and thunder remains. It will be super interesting to see how this talented young band evolves.