(Description by J. Campbell)
It is rare that a band lives up to the promise of its initial recordings by the time it releases a debut LP. A band that releases a well-conceived demo or EP and immediately becomes engulfed in hype is often doomed to fail. Sacriphyx are one of those few bands for which the debut LP is represents both a continuation of the trajectory laid out in the band’s previous recordings and also a substantial step forward. Some years ago, NWN! received the “Lone Pine” demo CDr from the band. While unsolicited demos are usually disregarded, Sacriphyx became something of an obsession for NWN! due to the band’s unique, yet traditional, approach to metal. Sacriphyx have rushed nothing in arriving at the release of “The Western Front.” Since the 2007 release of the demo, Sacriphyx have moved at a deliberate pace having released only one split EP and a split 12” during the intervening years. (All of these tracks are also collected on the recently released self-titled compilation CD.) Conceptually, Sacriphyx remain focused upon the intricate dynamics of war. While war is an omnipresent topic within metal, it is usually described in a simplistic manner loaded with juvenile glorification. Sacriphyx take a different thematic and sonic approach. While certainly not dealing with the subject matter in an “intellectual” or “political” context, they instead capture the elemental aspects of combat: tragedy, valor, triumph and despair. The band’s distinctive music perfectly suits the imagery Sacriphyx projects. The band draws upon myriad styles and influences and “The Western Front” presents a broad array of sounds all drawn into the overall fabric of the album. Most notably, Sacriphyx call upon the legacy of Greek Black Metal, but recast the occult Hellenic sound in the service of the band’s melancholy and militaristic narrative quality. One also finds in the songs passages of forlorn doom and frantic black and death metal often intertwined with a traditional heavy metal sensibility. Sacriphyx is comparable to Arghoslent in its capacity to channel heavy metal influences through the lens of more extreme metal. The guitar work is especially integral to the songwriting as Sacriphyx adorns its epic tracks with lilting guitar solos. Even in the faster and more intense passages, Sacriphyx lays perfectly suited solos across the foundation of the songs. There truly is no band operating in the same territory as Sacriphyx at this time. Though fans were forced to wait for years for this anticipated debut, few, if any, will find anything remotely disappointing in it.