Sangre Eterna – Asphyxia
Sangre Eterna is a new name for me, but by the sound of things, this Serbian melodic death metal outfit knows the ropes, and Asphyxia is their second full-length album, arriving four years after debut Amor Vincit Omnia. If bits and pieces that I’ve read online about the band are to be believed, Sangre Eterna used to play fairly symphonic black metal, but have shifted to a more accessible melodic death sound with this, their newest release.
The harsh vocals of Ilija Stevanovic are constant, with no (to my knowledge) clean vocal work slipping out, and the band maintains a mid-paced tempo through much of the album, with double bass and tremolo breaking in mainly for dramatic effect (and succeeding in stirring up substantial aggression). Actually, I would consider Asphyxia to be a relatively foundational melodic death metal album that concentrates first upon building strong framework and concentrating on textures. This creates an unassuming exterior which really doesn’t come across as flashy whatsoever, but I find the groundwork to be very solid. In particular, songs such as “Seventh Angel” and “Lut Gholein”, (and not just because I love the Diablo franchise, mind you, though that does help) with its great introductory track “Shattered Sun”, strike me as very mature and well-crafted songs that exemplify the band at their strongest moments. However, corkers like “The Masquerade” and “Illusions Of Fate” pack a fair amount of punch in a concise package as well- proving that the band has some pure power to back up their slower material.
At other times, however, the music takes a turn to the unexciting, with the occasional lack of strong guitar presence to back the relatively bland vocals (a mild complaint of mine). As with many melodic death bands, some of the less distinct songs have a tendency to blend together (the end of “Confession And Death” seguing into “Illusions Of Fate” almost sounds like the band just taking a breath before launching into a new section of the same song), and so Asphyxia is unable to escape being described as somewhat repetitive, and perhaps with a touch of filler.
All things considered though, this was a pleasant surprise for me. The guitars are punchy and technical enough, the rhythm very proficient, and the keyboards provide a smooth blend that makes the end product quite attractive. What we have here is several great melodic death tunes bundled with some other respectable, if unremarkable, material. I recommend all of the better tracks that I’ve drawn attention to, and I think that most listeners to melo-death will find them quite satisfactory. An encouraging album, and a band to keep an eye out for in the future, especially if they keep up some of their catchier, more original material. The combination of “Shattered Sun” and “Lut Gholein” in particular is possibly my personal favorite entry in this genre to date in 2012.
Dan’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5