Album Review: RS-28 – Sarmat

Named after a Russian intercontinental ballistic missile, Sarmat is a three-piece Blackened Death Metal band from Poland. “RS-28” is the band’s first album, and was released independently back in March of 2021. 

The RS-28 Sarmat missile began production in 2009 and is expected to enter service in 2022. It can deliver ten tons of explosives to any place on the planet. It cannot be detected by radar, and cannot be stopped or destroyed. First of all, that is absolutely fucking terrifying. Just to be alive in a world where such a thing exists seems unbelievable. Then again, humans have been discovering new ways to kill each other from day one. That being said, Sarmat is a pretty badass name for a Metal band. 

The cover art depicts children in gas masks, sitting calmly in front of a mushroom cloud in the shape of a skull. This suggests a generational fear of nuclear holochaust, which is perhaps becoming a bit fossilized in the minds of the Polish people. An idea that vocalist Lukasz Kobusinski alludes to throughout “RS-28,” which gives the album a conceptual vibe. 

Album opener, “Coldgrinder,” with all of the speed, aggression, and intensity of Behemoth, Lost Soul, or Hate, warns of a maniacal and mechanical “world controlled by hatred” and “chaos.” The theme continues on “Evilution,” “RS-28,” and “You Don’t Live In My War.” In this world of turmoil and perpetual preparation for war, Sarmat tells us about an evolving evil that pervades their existence on nearly every level, ruling with an iron fist while hiding in the shadows. But they are determined to break free from this oppression, by any means necessary, as Kobusinski growls in “You Don’t Live In My War,” which is probably the strongest tune on the record: 

Breaking the chains of slavery

No looking back

Breaking the chains of life…

I am the master of my fate!

I am the captain of my soul!

Sarmat acts as their own invisible weapon, vying for the freedom of their souls, and the ability to exist between the lines. 

“Blackout (Scenario for Tomorrow),” parts one and two, end the album. They are an outline of the very real fear they live with every day. Bringing up nuclear disasters like Chernobyll and Fukushima. The destruction of power grids that would black out the entire country, the result of a cyber attack. 

Overall, “RS-28” is extremely powerful and engaging, begging the listener to return for repeated doses of Sarmat’s venomous Blackened Death Metal. As mentioned above, Behemoth comes to mind quite often throughout the album, though, oddly enough, by replacing satanic themes with political/post-apocalyptic themes, Sarmat comes off a bit more sinister than their fellow Polish Metal maniacs. I suppose that effect would greatly depend on which theme you personally find more threatening, but the music will knock you on your ass either way. 

Rating: 4/5

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