I don’t know why I don’t pick up more promos from I, Voidhanger. I have never been even remotely close to disappointed with anything in the past I’ve reviewed from them, and they are home to some of the most unstoppable titans in the metal scene right now, bands who are not at all afraid to push the boundaries of metal as far as they can possibly go. With all that in mind, I took on I Have Seen the Light and It Was Repulsive, the debut full length from Sermon of Flames, purely on a whim, and I have to say, the tradition of not being disappointed holds.
Sermon of Flames is the product of the Irish duo simply known as M. and D.; who previously made waves with their DIY demo, Heralds of the Untruth, all the way back in 2019 when they formed. As we are all aware, a lot can happen in the span of a year and a half to two years, and in that time, the cohorts have refined their particular blend of death metal, black metal, harsh noise and industrial. The next step, then is to bring it to light (pun intended) with the help of a professional studio. Without sacrificing their underground spirit, this allowed the band to execute their vision of “uncompromising extreme metal” to the fullest, issuing forth “a monolith of filth and violence erected in homage to ever burning hatreds.” The whole of the album centers around M. and D.’s nihilistic viewpoints, a rejection of faith and disgust for life in general. Sound like a good time? To me it does! While I can’t say things are so bleak in my life that I identify strongly with the message, I will say that the band’s blend of huge walls of grating noise and thick, beefy guitars is impeccably done, no doubt thanks to the huge increase in budget and recording quality that a large studio can offer.
I hope this doesn’t come across the wrong way, but the thing that surprised me (and endeared me) the most about I Have Seen the Light is just how unsophisticated it is. A lot of the promos that I pick for albums that blend harsh noise and death metal tend to be more esoteric in nature, especially when you throw shades of black metal in there. I was expecting something very cerebral and artistic; what I got was filthy, nasty dumb-guy riffs. This is an album that is hefty on the death metal side, with the black metal aspects being featured as more of a canvas to paint on than the main attraction. There are plenty of wild, atonal melodies that draw inspiration from the blackened side of things, but these songs are mainly a vehicle for Neanderthal riffs. Take the proper opener for the album “Cauldrons of Boiling Piss” (2021 sure is the year of amazing song titles!). After the abrupt end to the static and samples, the duo waste no time getting in there with brutal, slimy riff after riff, never quite stopping in one place long enough to settle and feel comfortable, but not moving so fast that the experience doesn’t sink in. There’s almost a grind-like aesthetic to the way that the guitars weave effortlessly through the grinding hum and whir of the noise and under vocals that switch between orated sample and a growl that genuinely descends into vocal fry in spots. Again, I Have Seen the Light leans very heavily on the death metal, but the way everything blends together leaves nothing feeling lost or underutilized. There is a satisfying amount of harmony in the way all the pieces play their part, and it helps the already astounding riffs really shine through.
If you are a fan of the grimy, earsplitting blend of noise and metal that Dragged into Sunlight and Primitive Man are putting out right now, Sermon of Flames is a must listen for your collection. I can’t remember the last time a debut from a band left me so pleasantly surprised when it sounded nothing at all like I expected it to. These are going to be people I will have to watch more closely so as not to miss out on more opportunities like this one. Follow the heralds of untruth; offer yourself to the void.