Ah, Heavy Metal, or just Metal if you so choose to call it, the great giver, the greatest thing of all time for me. It is life, it is death. It is what you choose to make of it, but it is a great living entity, and it cannot be ignored for the fan, it cannot just go away and be replaced by something else. It is a living breathing entity, and all that live under its spell, if true to themselves, can never be something other than what they are.
I liken it to a tree. A tree with many branches, the branches all trying their best way to find the sun, the Earth, the fire that will burn them but ensure their seed is carried to the ground and ensure that their species will survive. A tree that if you dare climb it and go out on a new branch you may find something different, or a tree you have never seen before. Some climb the tree to lofty heights and forget they came from the ground, and some don’t.
It was one day whilst looking at one particular tree, a mighty heavy gnarled thing it was, that I noticed a branch sticking far further than all the others, and it was resting against a somewhat similar looking tree, if in appearances of species only. Let us for arguments sake name the big one Hooded Menace shall we? Anyway, this branch was a spectacular one, and I followed it’s course along to the other tree, which as stated was of a similar ilk, if only somewhat more streamlined and somehow more aggressive in nature. Let us then name this one Sadistik Forest if we may, yes I know, it’s hardly a bloody forest being only one tree but I’m going out on a limb here..Get it. Limb…Ha-ha.
So anyway, This magnificent branch, whom we shall refer to from now on as the one and only Markus Makkonen, was the link between the two. Wood slapper extraordinaire, by that I mean bass player, for both of these entities. It was a no brainer that I would indeed be checking this other tree out. What did I find? A fucking monster of a thing in no uncertain terms. Two seed pods had already been thrown out into the world, 2010’s aptly named Sadistik Forest, and it’s follow up 2012’s spectacular Death,Doom, Radiation, Both of which are essential listening. The next seed pod needed the right conditions under which to drop, and so the branch, the Markus one that is, detached itself from the great big Hooded one and grafted itself permanently onto the Sadistik tree, and after almost six years the conditions where just right.
Okay, enough of the tree waffle. We all know I can rave on about shit till the leaves change colour and a new season is upon us, so I will start straight talking to save all of our sanity. Morbid Majesties is now upon us, and what a great time to be alive it is. Death Metal in general has been having quite the resurgence over the last few years, and for this we should all be eternally grateful as their is some real fucking quality to be found. This little package of pleasant ditties still puts most of them to shame. The reason? Well, the talent on display here is not only second to none, but a real game changer as far as Death Metal goes.
Markus, with whom I have had the pleasure of chatting with on the odd occasion is a very interesting individual, and as far as these things go his taste in music is also all over the place. This is a good thing, and as you will see he has no qualms at all about breaking traditional stereotypes if it fits the total vision. With all due respect to Antti on guitar, Vesa on drums and Matti on the other six string, all of whom are exceptional musicians in their own right and also damn fine people, I will focus more on Markus as a whole, as it is he who I have spoken to most about Sadistik Forest in general.
From the beginning track “Morbidly Majestic” you think you are in familiar Sadistik territory. Them guitars are clean shaving the fuzz off your face, blazing leads and guttural groans emanating from within. Drums pummeling, bass rumbling, an all out assault on your senses, fantastic stuff, and if it’s more you want then it’s more you are gonna get. It is worth noting for the uninitiated that Markus uses more than one tone when singing, sometimes fouler and darker than your worst fear, other times like a deranged Goblin or some other awful hellspawn. Both voices can manifest at any time, often together, and really keep the whole show as entertaining as all fuck.
By the second track “Decades of Torment Then Death” you are starting to notice just how much groove is packed into this effort. Markus has very broad tastes in what he listens to as stated, and you can almost pick the moments where his brain has wandered out of the more traditional Death Metal sensibilities and he has gone with his gut instinct instead. Elements of more progressive music and even straight out good old rock n roll creep in here and there in a riff or a musical passage, and for that we should thank him, this is by no means your big standard Death Metal album by a long shot. Oh, and when I say thank him, I mean all of the members, as a collective unit to tie this all together they have excelled themselves.
And now comes the bit where I tell you all how much I hate track by track reviews, and you all say ‘yeah, we know, duh.’. Time to shift angle a tad. THE single most impressive thing about this release is not that the pace will blow you off the face of the planet, it’s the moments when they slow waaay the fuck down and really dig the boot into your hapless sense of wellbeing. Thus I give you “The Hour of Dread”. Slow, massive crunching riffing opens the account, with both of the horrors chanting over the top. Double bass drums rolling along like a giant herd of monstrosities push the beast along while Markus’ bass twists and winds its way around the piece like a parasitic vine of immense proportions slowly choking the life of the host tree. Deadly, beautiful and entirely captivating. Sure, they chuck some fast stuff in there to bring the temperature up to boiling, but the simmering base of the main show is simply killer.
Markus did state to me that he was amazed by people’s reactions to the slower stuff when played live, they loved it, and when you hear it you too will agree that sometimes the power in a song comes not always from the fastest riffs and the drum kit getting the shit kicked out of it. This, and closer “Bones of a Giant” are simply put the epitome of powerful Metal. The kind of stuff that brings down castles and clears entire, well, forests. Doubt me? Fair enough. The closer we will discuss at the end.
So I said I hate track by track, but I cannot simply skip past any of this, so you will get a short synopsis of it all. Roll on “Destructive Art”, a complete and utter thrashing awaits the willing, “Zero Progress” is akin to being on a hurdy gurdy of utter hate, “Monsters of Death” opens with such magnitude that you think the world may swallow you. Big bass, big riffs, venomous vocals from both the Demon and the Goblin that seem to coexist in Markus, and the ever present Vesa punctuating the whole act to perfection. “The Maelstrom Opens”, well, read the song name and see if it is not at all appropriate. Chaos comes in many forms, and this is but just one. Madness within constraints, bursting through but always held slightly in check. Slightly being the key word.
Yes, this whole review is madness, and it is due time that I wrapped shit up so to speak. The closer, the end song you say, the one that I was going to talk about, well it is as mentioned called “The Bones of a Giant”, and yes, it is a fucking giant of a song. You are laying face down on a battlefield and the vultures circle, the flies hover in massive swarms around you revelling in the carnage before them, they will all feed well this day you assure yourself. Standing unsteadily you hear the pounding of drums as yet another wave of enemy surges over the hill nearby. You stand, sharp faithful axe at the ready, the flies swarming ever louder in your ears until almost deafening, and then they are upon you. Chaos ensues, everything speeds up and becomes a blur until you suddenly realise the cruelty that you have inflicted upon your enemy as they lay twisted and broken before you, and that you are again alone, and a strange voice beckons you. You drop to the soil as the last of your blood drains out of the many wounds you have gained, if not earned.
Your flesh feeds the worms that toil the soil beneath your corpse. Plants shoot up in years to come, and the legend of your demise becomes unto itself a giant. The trees that have drank their fill of blood and horror don’t look right, they are somewhat warped, and people that come close enough hear many voices. It is known as the Sadistik Forest. Long may it live in all its glory.
I have no idea how to do this album as much justice as it deserves, so I have just done what I CAN do and try to explain how it moves ME. What you need to do now is have a listen. This is so much more than just Death Metal, it is an experience that you will relish every time you hear it. Kudos to you all guys, fucking amazing doesn’t even come close to how good this is. Epic in every way.