Sacred Son – The Foul Deth of Engelond Review

I spy, with my little eye, Dane Cross in his classic little black shades hiding in the crowd in this dark and dank piece of album artwork. The fourth installment in Dane’s black metal project Sacred Son‘s discography, named The Foul Deth of Engelond, is the first of their works for which we received promo material. It is not, however, the first time that I’ve heard of the UK-based quartet, as their delightful second album Arthurian Catacombs earned a purchase from me not long ago. I can’t call myself an avid fan—though I do love the band’s cheeky sense of humor with cover art—but I found their work promising enough that I looked forward to witnessing Sacred Son‘s development down the road.

Sacred Son historically play black metal, plain and simple. Nothing fancy or especially complex factors into their compositions. However, The Foul Deth of Engelond sees the band exploring black metal through the lens of doom, trimming the edges with a light occult fringe somewhat recalling the folk-tinted Dewfall. Whiffs of Panopticon and Kvaen inform the blackened core of the album, while funereal doom, reminiscent of Woebegone Obscured, peals somber tolls across the ashen landscape. The resulting sound palette is well-conceived and well-realized.

Unfortunately, The Foul Deth of Engelond leaves something to be desired in the songwriting department. Clocking in at forty-three minutes spread out over four proper tracks and one instrumental intro, every entry buckles under the weight of at least nine minutes of music that offers only enough ideas for six or seven. Ironically, the best of the bunch boasts the longest runtime at thirteen minutes on the dot. Title track “The Foul Deth of Engelond” offers the most compelling songwriting, featuring evocative trem-picked leads and one helluva riff explosion at the midpoint. However, that combustion of blackened flame ought to last two minutes longer and end the song outright. Instead, it surrenders the spotlight to four grinding minutes of the same trudging blackened doom that foreshadowed that burst of energy in the first place, bringing all momentum to a halt. Doubling down on the irony, shortest cut “The Boy King” suffers the most for its nine-minute trek. It lacks any of the character or explosive vitriol of its more compelling counterparts. Compounding the issue, the song comes dangerously close to recycling chord patterns and leads found earlier in the album, indicating a lack of ideas to furnish such long-form writing.

Though I’ve been harsh up to this point, the reality is that The Foul Deth of Engelond offers strong material when you dig through the fluff. “Le Blakheth” sports a massive black/doom hybrid riff and vicious blackened tremolos and shrieks, feeling every bit as sharp as the best material in the band’s portfolio. It’s overlong to be sure, but it makes the most of its ten minutes regardless.1 Furthermore, the first half of closer “Vengeance I & II” offers a surprise twist, just when you thought you had heard everything there was to hear from The Foul Deth of Engelond. Instead of furious black metal or marching doom, Sacred Son segue straight into ritualistic chanting, combining several ranges of clean vocals to create a layered effect in conjunction with plodding drums and acoustic strumming. This section in particular is quite effective and sparks a desire in me that begs for the band to utilize more of those occult elements in all of their future work.

I’m not wholly disappointed in my experience with The Foul Deth of Engelond, but I hoped for more. Their songwriting has merit, and I know from past work the kind of fervor and whimsy their compositions often show. However, this latest record lacks the same character as past work. Bright flashes of that lovable personality appear here and there, but are all too often stifled by extensive bloat. With The Foul Deth of EngelondSacred Son stumbled, but there’s still enough promise in it to give me hope for future works. Fingers crossed!


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: True Cult Records
Websites: facebook.com/sacredsonmusic | sacredson.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: May 13th, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. For some reason, the official music video for this track is four minutes shorter than my promo copy. It doesn’t feel like it’s missing anything, either, making it the perfect length for the content. This is the kind of self-editing I’m looking for, Sacred Son!
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