originally written by Chris McDonald
Sarpanitum’s full-length debut, Despoilment of Origin, was a masterful display of monolithic blasting death metal that really opened my eyes to the potential of said style after being bored by many of its more well-known practitioners. While a four-song EP isn’t the follow-up that I and many others may have been clamoring for in the years since the debut, when that EP is of the amazing quality of Fidelium, I’m certainly not going to complain. In this experimental death metal tour-de-force crammed into an eighteen-minute package, Sarpanitum has released a lead contender for EP of the Year.
Sarpanitum’s sound is still burly, brutally heavy, and incredibly fast, but the band has noticeably progressed from the sound of Despoilment of Origin. The basic songwriting is more complex and multifaceted this time around, with more surprises and unexpected twists seamlessly built into the compositions. The bludgeoning riffs have been supplemented with some surprisingly inspiring melodies and a variety of different atmospheric touches, primarily in the form of subtle choral keyboard accompaniments and some mesmerizing lead guitar work. While the vocals are still as low and cavernous as ever, there’s an artistry to the instrumental side of things that is noticeably absent from many of the band’s blasting contemporaries, and that places these songs in an entirely different realm than the caveman-brutality of the debut. Think Hate Eternal’s barbaric intensity channeled through Mitochondrion’s twisted riffing and topped off with the spacey melodic sense of Mithras. Yes, it’s as good as it sounds.
As strong as Despoilment of Origin was, Fidelium shows that Sarpanitum is more than ready to rise to the top tier of modern death metal bands. A full-length album of the quality of this EP would be a serious force to be reckoned with, and after this all-too-brief teaser, I’m more ready than ever to hear a proper follow-up from this UK collective. While it feels like it’s over almost before it begins, this is one of the most compelling death metal releases of the year, and shouldn’t be missed by anyone.