DESOLATOR: Sermon Of Apathy
Release year: 2020
Label: Black Lion Records
Swedish Desolator are no newcomers to the game: they formed already in 2009, but prior to this only have one full-length album and assorted smaller releases to their name. Oh well, we Finns have a saying that you only get dickhead children if you’re in a hurry.
No, that doesn’t translate well, but my point is: what’s the rush? The Swedes, it would seem, are in agreement with me.
Whilst their initial sound owed a greater debt to the classic sound of their native Sweden, on Sermon Of Apathy, Desolator have infused a great degree of classic US death metal into their formula. The promo sheet mentions Morbid Angel and Immolation as two points of reference, which to a certain degree holds water. The Lovecraftian lyrics certainly remind one of the mighty Morbid Angel, at least superficially.
The end result of combining elements from the classic swedeath sound with technically tinged brutal USDM is in fact quite interesting. Simultaneously, Sermon Of Apathy sounds like its main ingredients, but doesn’t. It’s sort of hard to explain, but you’ll be able to pick out things where the influences are obvious – the guitars on The Human Condition, for example, would not sound out of place on Gateways To Annihilation – but when you start digging in and really concentrating on the music, it doesn’t sound too much like either Swedish or US death metal. The end result is very middle ground in a decidedly positive sense: it’s not markedly either, but will most likely have some appeal to fans of both.
However, it’s a slight shame that whilst stylistically the Swedes have hit the proverbial nail on the equally proverbial head, composition-wise the album leaves one wanting from time to time. There are moments when the album shines (such as the aforementioned The Human Condition), but for large chunks of its 42 minute duration, Sermons Of Apathy is a bit samey and a bit unengaging. One is tempted to say it invites to apathy. Thus, despite not having a particularly massive runtime, the album feels a tad too long.
The end result is lamentably less than it could have been. The combination of classic Morbid Angel riffwork in swedeath trappings is potentially a savoury dish, as this album proves during its best moments. Sadly, there aren’t enough of those moments for Desolator to shine as well as they could.
As such, despite a strong sound, a fresh combination of strands of death metal and massive potential, with Sermons Of Apathy Desolator don’t quite manage rise above the mass. It’s balanced and skilled take on combining Swedish and US death metal does warrant a few spins, but pretty soon the initial enamoration will wear off.