It probably comes as no surprise that I am not the most astute individual when it comes to the hardcore scene. But when the latest effort from the Greek crew known as Sarabante crossed my path, I was instantly intrigued. And to be completely transparent, the killer imagery above helped that cause tremendously. Yet after digging into Poisonous Legacy, I immediately came to realize that this isn’t exactly the same hardcore as I have always known it. The dark, dreary influences Sarabante put to work on this release make for a truly impressive album that is destined to catch the attention of followers of all genres.
Originally forming in Athens a decade ago, Sarabante has spent their career writing music influenced by the recent regional struggles. This in turn leads to a certain tension and darkness to their sound that comes quite naturally. In fact, on some of the closing tracks of this album, you can make out blackened death metal influences within their hardcore categorization. But to start from the beginning, the outset of “All That Remained” through “A Day With No Sun To Rise”, we hear the same kind of chaos we would hope from this genre. There is no denying the spastic rhythms, barked vocals, and piercing leads. But there is a certain complexity to it all in line with the tension I spoke of earlier that takes the sound a bit further. The latter of these tracks almost feels like a rubber band between stretched to its very limit. This is a feature of this album that remains present throughout the under 30-minute listen.
More order can be found in “Deceit Times” or the incredibly dense and depressing “Black Thorns”. But for the most part this album is composed of short tracks (average runtime under three minutes) that are totally in your face. They get in, make their point, and move on. In reality, the album clocks in at an appropriate length, as this intensity can be a lot to absorb. Furthermore, it allows the album to avoid becoming too consistent, or feel forced, in its high energy fury that so many hardcore albums fall victim to.
That said, the moments leading up to “Mass Grave” do begin to feel a bit burdening. To this point we’ve consumed four tracks that never pause for a breath of air. Fortunately, things start to wander in different directions from there. Dynamic rhythm patterns that lead into the aforementioned track and “Ruination” allow the Sarabante sound to evolve more than previously allowed on this particular album, giving the tracks a bit more personality. The droning pause of “Final Warning” offers a welcomed respite in the final third of the album and the elongated melodic introduction of “Mneme’s Amaurosis” welcomes the beginning of the end of Poisonous Legacy in epic fashion. An album that starts straightforward ends up covering a lot more ground that we had been lead to believe early on, which does wonders for the overall listenability.
There is plenty to appreciate on Poisonous Legacy and a lot of the influences that come into play resonate with you long after the album has concluded. It has a certain darkness to it that digs its nails into your skin and refuses to relinquish its hold. Given the efficient presentation of Sarabante’s styling, this intensity entices you to return to this album time and again despite the harshly depressing environment it produces. Sarabante is a project that defiantly wears its influences on its sleeves and as a result, we are left with an album that is raw and aggressive in the most natural way.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”