In the early nineties, Swedish death metal bands hit the mark with their genuine melodies and blackened death metal fusion. Bands from both the Gothenburg and Stockholm scenes like Dissection, early At The Gates, Necrophobic, and Sacramentum reached their peaks. Sarcasm on the other hand was amongst the cluster of bands who evidently had a unique sound. Having formed in 1990, they released a slew of demos, compilations, and three albums. If you are familiar with the early Swedish death metal scene, then you’d probably know that Sarcasm has had a decent beginning. In 2019 the band released its remarkable album “Esoteric Tales of the Unserene” which defined the band’s musical prowess. Now that they’re back with their fourth album “Stellar Stream Obscured” they seem quite confident by the fusion of elements.
The album opener “Through the Crystal Portal” pursues the classic sound of death metal, providing a twisting brand of melodies. The songwriting transitions smoothly from catchy twisted riffs. Substantial chunks of melodies and lead guitars are awash by the streaming blast beats. The dexterity shows off their expertise in writing heavy death metal riffs. What caught my attention on the new album is how the guitars sound so sophisticated. “We Only Saw the Shadows of Life” oozes out slabs of blackened death metal riffs laced with tremolo melodies. Sarcasm has the talent for transcending to higher spheres. The guitar department conveys some of the old-school melodies reminding me of At The Gates album “The Red in the Sky is Ours”.
Each song on the album demonstrates sheer mastery. “Stellar Stream Obscured” doesn’t only bear a profound title, but also delivers a fierce blackened death metal ingenuity by these Swedes. Although the ferocity is aptly showcased, Sarcasm forges its own trademark. There are numerous tracks such as “Ancient Visitor” where the keyboards mesh with the guitars and drift to the realms of black metal. Haunting melodies and catchy lead guitars brought to accurate phrasing, showcasing the dark passion and the Scandinavian roots of the band. Although many would position Sarcasm as a melodic black/death metal band, I’d say they’re definitely more than that. Their melodious and raw energy falls within the category of bands like Eucharist and Unanimated.
While the previous album granted them deserving rank between the aforementioned bands, Sarcasm on the fourth album unveils a great deal of staggering performance. Expressive melodies brought by epic musical prowess brought with such magnificence, clearly the band is at the peak of productivity and the songwriting skills truly shine. “The Spinning Tomb” moves into fierce bursts of the drums, chugging riffs, and crucial lead guitar sections that highlight this track. The tempo frequently changes and this is because the songs are organic, raw, and unmercifully aggressive. Sarcasm found a great balance: the guitars launch plenty of catchy melodies and rhythm section beams through the furious tempos.
The atmospheric intro on “Obsidian Eyes” bursts into a melodic tempo with the blazing guitars possessing twisted blackened death metal riffs maintaining an intense tempo. This is joined by a brief solo section. Sarcasm achieves a methodical flamboyance. The remarkable instrumentation is rooted in the classic sound of nineties melodic black/death metal. The cold tone of the vocals and the infectious guitar riffs continue to pound heavily on “The Powers of Suffering that Be”. Classy and intense riffing is the main characterization here. There is always a space for the atmosphere to add depth to the songs, raspy vocals, and driven lead guitars brought to perfection. The production is raw and not too polished which makes the songs equally heavy offering forty-one minutes of wickedness. “Apocalyptic Serenity” is mind-blowing!! It combines cold aggression and dark rhythm. All these elements are impressively laced into the composition.
Sarcasm raises the bar high on the fourth album, particularly the melodies are downright and straight to the point. It’s fascinating how the band managed to spawn such unique musical arrangements that none of the bands nowadays managed to do so. Though the album is replete with piano intros, the final track “Let us descend” seems to be somewhat melodramatic and quirky but the remaining portion of this track launches harsh blackened death metal riffs and furious drums attack.
“Stellar Stream Obscured” is a hybrid of melodic black and death metal elements perfectly executed by one of the leading bands in the Swedish underground metal scene. This is a very diverse album that has some atmospheric moments and plenty of melodies that could not have been executed better by any band. Therefore I recommend it to fans of Eucharist, Unanimated, and Dissection.
Release Date: January 28th, 2022
Label: Hammerheart Records
- Through The Crystal Portal
- We Only Saw the Shadow of Life
- Ancient Visitors
- The Spinning Tomb
- Obsidian Eyes
- The Powers of Suffering that Be
- Apocalyptic Serenity
- Let Us Descend