Listening to metal frequently and being tethered to it via writing reviews can cause some serious burnout in a man. Sometimes I catch myself wondering if the genre and I have grown apart, and whether or not I feel the same way about the stuff as I did in 2014 when I started writing for my favorite blog in the world. Then I throw on a classic, get that rush of adrenaline and excitement all over again, and realize that metal is still what I want to listen to, engage with, and enjoy above all other genres. One of my top modern bands is Anaal Nathrakh, and seeing that instrumentalist Mick Kenney produced the debut of Californian black metal band Sicarius‘, charmingly called Serenade of Slitting Throats, got me intrigued. When I started listening, that rush of excitement hit once again; now this is a band worth watching.

The fact that Mick Kenney produced Serenade of Slitting Throats is apropos. The sterility, the coldness, and the hyper-modern style of Anaal Nathrakh’s later work, which here is probably closest to the underrated Passion in production values, is part and parcel with Sicarius’ modernized second-wave tinged assault. The usual suspects of Gorgoroth, Dark Funeral, Taake, and Dissection loom large over Serenade, and Anaal Nathrakh is clearly an influence as well.

What Sicarius does well that many bands do not is carving out their own sound from the old stones of the classics. Nowhere does Serenade of Slitting Throats content itself with mere emulation, and Sicarius’ focus on their vision first and foremost instead of that of their influences pays off in dividends. “Ferox Impetum” is taut, aggressive, and catchy, merging icy melodies akin to earlier Dissection with the intensity of Dark Funeral and Taake, but not plagiarizing or relying too heavily on any one of them. On the other side of the spectrum, “Onyx Void” is something akin to a more aggressive and varied version of Gorgoroth’s slower and more contemplative moments (i.e. “Rebirth”), replete with that emotional heft which separates good slow black metal tracks like this from great ones. These moments are interrupted with those of violent catharsis missing from “Rebirth,” and flavoured with that melodic death metal sensibility that helps define newer Anaal Nathrakh.

If I had to do some arbitrary fault-finding, I’d say that “The Beast in Your Heart” sounds pretty close to Passion for a good portion, but differentiates itself in small ways. While not a flaw in itself, it’s one of those moments where you’re reminded of another band almost immediately when listening to Sicarius. Nonetheless, the riffs are on par with Anaal and while vocalist K. Karcass doesn’t attempt the varied and incredible histrionics of Dave Hunt, his vocals are charismatic, captivating, and wonderfully aggressive. His unstable rasps, which sound as if they could fly off the handle and into incomprehensible chaos at any moment, give a definite human element to the thoroughly modern and honed sound of the instruments, showing that Romantic soul of black metal in all of its glory.

Serenade of Slitting Throats is a remarkable debut that shouldn’t be missed by any fan of black metal. While not “good” in our often too DR-obsessed sense, Kenney’s production is utterly perfect for the music here, showing a great connection between band and producer. It’s impossible to conceive of Sicarius’ sound being expressed otherwise, and as Kenney knows how to work with loud, frantic, and violent music with loads of melody rather well, both producer and band chose the right partner. Every song is a winner here, even the introductory track; I can count on one hand the amount of debuts that have excited me as much. Sicarius have founded a compelling identity here, and each song has its own unique aspects different from all others but they still adhere to a general essence of violent and melodic black metal tethered to tradition but not enslaved by it. I can go on about the fantastic and fitting chugging midsection, the Hellhammer-esque drumming, and soaring melodies of “Torture Trials” or the tremendous Viking-infused Dissection-isms that pop up between the high quality second-wave intensity of “Marshaling the Garroted,” but I lack the space for that. What I have the space to say is that Serenade of Slitting Throats makes a convincing case for being the best black metal record of the year, crafted by a hungry and vital new band that, if this quality continues, has a blindingly bright future in metal.


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: FLAC
Label: M-Theory Audio
Websites: facebook.com/SicariusBlackMetal
Releases Worldwide: October 13th, 2017

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  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    FVCK YEAH THIS

  • ssorg

    I’d hate to start a metal fashion discussion, but I’m not entirely sure corpse paint goes with band shirts

    • Goldicot

      On the other hand, it’s hardly less silly than metal fashion already was

    • Dr. Scorpion

      Nothing goes with band shirts. One is supposed to hold them in hand while walking around naked.

    • Blood Pervertor was wearing a Bathory shirt when I saw 3rd Attempt. It worked for him.

    • Ta2dlam

      I’ll take the GoatWhore shirt over the gigantic belly button of the middle dude every. single. time.

      • basenjibrian

        Peek-a-boo!

    • No, but the Slugdge sweatpants I’ve been eyeing on Bandcamp go with everything ever. If I don’t attend at least one wedding or funeral in those, I will have failed.

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        You can wear them to my funeral.
        Hamsters have a very short life span…

        • Your loyalty grants you intermittent immortality, there will be no hamster funerals if you can just manage to keep away from Richard Gere.

          • HeavyMetalHamster

            Thanks.
            Good old Dicky Gere ain’t getting any of this action.

      • Dr. Scorpion

        Don’t fail. We need the pics. How big are snail dicks?

      • John

        Know this is super late, but I told my wife those sweatpants are what I want for christmas. I sadly don’t think they’ll be under the tree. Also, thanks to your (and Eli’s) BM recs from up above, been finding some new gems today.

        • Excellent, that’s what it’s all about! Black metal goodness and kickass sweatpants for all! I’m too lazy to see if I’d mentioned them in this thread or not, but if you haven’t checked out ROSK yet you should, like, fix that and stuff.

          • John

            Done. Good shit. Thanks dude.

  • That guy in the middle is a schemer if ever I saw one.

  • The Akerstache

    The name drops got me intrigued and the embedded track sold me, this is stellar. I’m going to keep my eyes on them.

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Looks like a nice fondue party on the cover.

  • Frost15

    This is excellent. Spot on review.

  • Kill The King

    I see the name Dissection. I seek. I buy.

    Dissection forever.

    Thanks!

  • Ferrous Beuller

    I can absolutely relate to that feeling of exhaustion every now and then, but I can always rely on Rust in Peace to drag me back under. This record is a total thug, too.

  • Eli Valcik

    This is good, but it is nowhere close to best Black Metal record of the year.

    • welyyt

      Gimme your top 5?

      • Eli Valcik

        For bm I’d say
        1: Ende- Emen Etan
        2: Pillorian- Obsidian Arc
        3: Morvigor- Tyrant (from what I’ve already heard, it deserves to be on here)
        4: Midnight- Sweet Death and Escatsy (technically it’s black n roll, but who cares)
        5 Vamacara- Mantras For the Manifold

        This was pretty impetuous so I probably forgot something and this is only black metal.

        • welyyt

          Thanks; I knew only about the new Midnight, but these sound pretty cool.

        • I knew you’d be one of the only motherfvckers with a trvly excellent list. I’d also say at this point that it’s probably necessary to make a separate top ten for black metal alone, there’s been so fucking much and a lot of it’s even been great. What wondrous times these are.

          • Eli Valcik

            It really has been a great year for BM. I am still waiting for another Mistur to show up (which would of been my No.1 last year if not for Vektor) and I’m hoping Morvigor will fill that lust for more of In Memoriam, also a new Rimfrost single drops the 11th. It’s also kind of funny because my song of the year is actually Crypt Sermon’s cover of Mayhem’s De Mysteriis so I’m kinda cheating there. But if you havent heard the cover, check it out, I am a Mayhem FANBOY but Crypt’s blows Atilla’s version out of the fucking water.

          • Please tell me you peeped the new Nyss, Release the Long Ships/Vvylderness, NONE, Wending Tide, and Leucosis. Also, and I know I’ve mentioned them before now, but if you haven’t checked out Terra Inanis by Somnium Nox then you’re fucking your whole life up. Also, ORM, cuz fucking ORM. I’ve got a few TYMHM’s drafted already, if you people close out the year with no black metal gems delivered by mine hands then it will be y’all who have failed, not I.

        • Chris

          Pillorian’s “Obsidian Arc” is probably my most disappointing album of this year. Probably because it had the Agalloch comparison to live up to, but even without that, I found the whole thing to just be very ‘meh’ overall.

          • Eli Valcik

            That makes sense. But I listened to it as it’s own identity rather than a follow up to Agalloch. When I did that, the vocals riffs and it’s uncanny melodic nature really drove the album home for me. It’s an album that is meant for repeated listen rather than a slap in the face with molten steel. Drew in his Bandcamp review described it as “the white mountain on which Agalloch died” but I would argue that this band is more like an avalanche that cascades down from the peak of this mountain. First starting at lofty and airy heights, but at the end descending into darkness and destroying all below.

            edit: also the lyrics are super badass

          • Chris

            It’s an album I really *want* to like, but just doesn’t click with me at all. I can’t even really put my finger on it, other than I just think the riffs are kinda boring.

            I’m much more excited for the Khorada project, to be honest. I think most of what I loved about Agalloch came from Anderson, not Haughm. Guess we’ll find out soon.

          • You’ll like what we tell you to and that’s final.

          • It’s the grounds from which Agalloch’s spirit transcended to give us this new cold diamond yo. The Agalloch comparison is inescapable, and undeniably a huge selling point for my checking them out in the first place, but Pillorian is very much its own beast. “Dark is the River of Man” alone expounds upon and trumps anything Agalloch ever did, and the whole album is comprised of such moments, tidbits of sonic glory that you expect to go a certain way yet still manage to surprise you. I definitely went into that in full fanboy mode, but I experienced it simply as a metalhead and stand by my shameless adulation. 4.0, no questions or hesitations. I’ve got a TYMHM for Obsidian Arc 90% done, I’m just keeping a couple lines open for Drewcifer fuckery til it’s time to submit it.

          • Gibblets

            Nope.that album is garbage with lyrics written by an angtsy 12 yr old.rename this blog angry metal kids please.

        • MetalMartin

          Bought Pillorian yesterday. Very good stuff indeed! Thanks for mentionning. Might check out other items of your list.
          m/

          • Eli Valcik

            Please do, I can’t recommend my no 1 pick enough!

          • MetalMartin

            Got Ende’s Emen Etan; this is just wonderful! I don’t know why such thing goes under the radar like that. Indeed old school, but how refreshing.

          • Eli Valcik

            Yeah, that album is just like candy to me.

        • Metal and Hockey

          Have you heard Dumal – The Lesser God? That’s my favorite black metal album this year

          • Eli Valcik

            Nope, checking it out though

          • Eli Valcik

            Just listened to it and I’m loving it. Back to the topics of things I forgot to mention: The new Blaze of Perdition is insane.

          • Metal and Hockey

            Awesome glad you liked it. I was lucky enough to get the CD before it sold out. I’m gonna check the stuff out on your list

        • Meriyas

          I recommend checking out Sacred Son. I think it’s a great little black metal album.
          I also listened to a couple of tracks by Aosoth off their upcoming album. May be worth checking out too.
          For me, Pillorian is top of the black metal ladder for this year so far. I don’t know if they’ll be topped and they’ve grown on me since I tried them again after Master of Muppet’s recommendation.

        • Javier McDrifter

          Listened to Ende’s record thanks to this post and i really thank you, that’s one hell of a BM album indeed

  • Apple Tree

    Nice sounding embedded track. by the way, theres new krallice

  • Iain Gleasure

    You can guarantee that one of the debuts that got Diabolus excited was Alestorm’s.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Surprisingly not! But for being excited by a debut, I’m going by ones that I was around for and knew when they came out before the sophomore. I can’t be excited by Show No Mercy, an incredible debut, in the same way because I’d already heard Reign in Blood and others before that. The same goes for Alestorm, whom I became familiar with around the time of Black Sails at Midnight and finally “got” when Sunset on the Golden Age came out.

  • Planex

    Anaal Nathrakh is mentioned and the DR automatically drops.

    But seriously this sounds incredible.

    • Nukenado

      DR 5 is really good for AN standards. The Whole Of The Law bleeds unto itself and sounds horrible if you don’t use lossless.

      • Uragoof

        Lmfao.seriously? Poor little mp3 idiots.the Dr of that lp is 9 on my reference system. Wtf can’t u idiots learn Dr is not meant to be used on mp3 or other crap audio files.maybe some day you’ll grow up go to school and figure it out finally.I feel sorry for u pathetic tards that judge albums based in the crap mp3 rips.lmfao.

        • h_f_m

          Format Reviewed: FLAC

        • Nukenado

          FLAC is crappy? Holy shit my worldview has been torn asunder. Do you listen to music using 48-192 wav files exclusively?

          • Frost15

            hahaha! You would need a few TB to storage all the music in that format…

          • Nukenado

            One 24-96 album is around 2GBs, so around 4 times that would be… Shudder.

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          Reference system? Philistine. Apart from reviewing things here, I only listen to live Gregorian chanting and Wagnerian operas. The DR is probably at least 20, but I don’t record it because that can never replicate the experience.

          • Levly

            Hahaha, well said :). And Wagnerian opera is the absolute peak of Western music, nothing so beautiful shall ever be written by the hand of man again.

      • Kurt Kapferer

        Lol. Funny because its true. Honestly though, I think it fits the whole sound of Armageddon that AN goes for. It might have been this site that put it so succinctly, that AN is like listening to the sound of a migraine. Oddly they work for me, but only if I’m in the mood for them.

        • Nukenado

          That’s the thing. AN records bleed into each other so much that you feel numb after around 2 hours of AN. And that’s due to the little amount of volume variation. I’d say they would have way more staying power if they could have some legitimately “heavy” drumming. I’d say the mix is great, but the compression isn’t. I don’t have “ear fatigue” or a migraine like others claim, but the impact gets lost once everything turns into an amorphous blob. With AN it’s the worst due to their incredibly dense instrumentation… Electronic artists can get away with high dynamic compression due to having less dense compositions to work with, but with AN’s hyper dense wall of noise, further brickwalling an already dense and thick wall just makes it big and fat and ugly.

          • GoatForest

            That’s actually one of my favorite aspects of AN. I adore the density of their songs. It’s like a musical equivalent of a hurricane. I can, however, see where it could wear thin on others, though.

          • Nukenado

            I like the density too, but I’m pretty sure density≠compression. They can achieve density by layering rather than killing eardrums.

  • Metal and Hockey

    Haven’t heard of this band before but the embedded track is great. Thanks for the review I will be ordering this!

  • Mollusc

    Nice. Some of the rhythms on the embedded track remind me of All Shall Fall. Isn’t it a bit warm in California for all the face paint etc.?

  • El_Cuervo

    Jacob Sartorius has a BM band?

    • Nukenado

      Not gonna lie, if he had a BM band I’d be singing his praises.
      Unless that BM stands for BABYMETAL…

  • sir_c

    The guy in the middle is a Chickenfoot fan

  • h_f_m

    Something about this isn’t my cup of tea, but I can definitely respect the skill and production.