Sathamel – ‘Despair’ Album Review

There are countless bands out there in the extreme metal world, and at times the cynical out there could be forgiven for thinking there is just quantity over quality – in a streaming lead world of social media and instant quick fix gratification. Despite technological advances, the mystery of discovering new bands doesn’t have the same magic as it once did, for those metal fans of a certain age. Granted, it’s easier nowadays, but to what end?

However, a thoroughly enriching band comes along every so often that is capable of flooring the listener; such is the quality of their output. A seemingly unknown band from nowhere that rewrites your expectations and soundly trounces one’s cynicism. The band in question, dear reviewers, is Sathamel.

Sathamel hail from the Yorkshire towns of Doncaster and Leeds, and were first formed under this name in 2013 as Sheol who made one demo before a change of name; releasing their self titled EP in 2015 to rapturous results and slowly become more established in the underground circuit under various tours. Notably, they have toured with Hecate Enthroned, Old Corpse Road, Desecration and Ethereal and received positive reviews in the mainstream metal music press. Their line-up is comprised of a five piece, with two guitarists (Aksahl and KVN), bass (Deimos), drums (Valdr), and lastly vocals (Kruk) – taking on the typical black metal demeanour of corpse paint, certainly looking the part with the sound to match.

Initial impressions of Sathamel remind the listener of a blend between the fast paced nihilism of Behemoth, the machine gun drumming and riff patterns reminiscent of prime era Vader, and the ferocity of Belphegor in places – as a result they could be described as blackened death metal, something that treads a fine line between the genres which often swings back and forth into into influences from both sides. The trick with Sathamel is that they sound innovative enough to stand on their own collective feet without borrowing too heavily from their influences, which is clearly demonstrated in the opening track “Wrath and Blood” which blends the best influences highlighted with an identity of their own. “Human Sacrifice” gallops from the speakers with an air of commanding majesty that draws the listener in with slower paced riffs that head onto a full thunderous assault of complex riffing, that certainly establish the band as being anything but a one trick pony.

There is something deeply compelling with how the band blends together, with the whole album driven by a distinctly catchy groove that is extremely compelling. Valdr’s drumming sounds distinctly crisp, Deimos’ bass guitar work adds a perfect backbone to the charged riffing of Aksahi and KVN with the roared bellow of Kruk perfectly dead centre of the mix which is demonstrated perfectly in the track “The Evangelist”, varying in range from a bellow to a scream in the faster paced sections. Weirdly, in tracks such as the “Great Mass of Despair” there are riff patterns in places that sound subconsciously similar to Domination era Morbid Angel. “The Judgement in Despair” is a perfect mid point track that shows heaviness and harnesses power and drama via slower doom-esque sections to lead into a crushing sonic attack, that demonstrates their skills as a band perfectly as one of the many ‘go to’ tracks in the album that stand out.

To conclude, the only thing that is somewhat baffling for Sathamel is that they have this huge majestic presence that by rights should not be touring the toilet circuit that should be supporting far bigger bands of the death and black metal genre. For example, if you had a tour and you brought these guys with Dimmu Borgir as a supporting act they will gain far more friends then they already have as they’re strong enough to be supporting bands of that calibre – such is the confidence of their delivery with ‘Despair’.

Despair‘ Track Listing:

  1. Wrath and Blood
  2. Human Sacrifice
  3. The Evangelist
  4. Great Mass
  5. The Judgement
  6. Monarch
  7. Vermin Abode
  8. Shrine of Agony
  9. Despair

Despair‘ is due for release on the 28th of July, and can be pre-ordered at this link.

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