12 Jul 2022 - Thorsten
Atmospheric Black Metal | True Cult Records | Release date: 13 May 2022 | Favorite song: Vengeance I & II
“Serfdom / Injustice endures / I plough the field, harvest the corn / For naught; no silver crossed my palm / Toiling without recompense / Until the worksmen succumb to pestilence“ The first words we can hear on the latest Sacred Son-record The Foul Deth of Engelond is like a mirror or wormhole between the present and the time depicted in its procedures. Maybe the songs work like time capsules to teach us something?
Sacred Son-mastermind Dane Cross was probably always a history buff. At least he comes across as such, for his songs and records are not simple songs and records but rather tracks following a concept (for each record) and this time Dane did not go for the simple re-telling of an historic event, but also using it as a template to show up what is wrong with our time. So let’s dive deep into the historic background:
In 1381, amid the Hundred Years’ War, a revolt of the lower class took place in south-eastern England, when an official who wanted to collect taxes and was confronted by peasants who did not want to endure being slaves to the aristocrats anymore, who stormed the justicial courts in London and who even got a grant by the young king Richard II to abolish serfdom. Later on, that grant was denied truthfulness by Richard and the revolt was being subdued by loyal militias and the army, but here we come to the importance of this event: It was a poplar uprising, a revolt from bottom-to-top and thus this can be seen as an attempt at a real revolution. By the people, for the people.
Why is this a mirror image for our time? Well, let’s face it – many of us are “slaving” away in their jobs, for people they will never meet and who will never be thankful for what the workers do. If these people more than 640 years ago were strong and passionate enough to strive for what they believe in – equality for all, an end to the division between those working and the financial fruit of their efforts, and a socio-economic change favoring the worker over the person providing some kind of financial background – why can’t we? Why can’t we stand up and fight for what we believe in? This idea and ideology places Cross and Sacred Son very close to bands like Panopticon, Dawn Ray’d or Underdark – all of which are often classified as RABM (Red Anarchist Black Metal) in contrast to NSBM (National Socialist Black Metal) -bands one rather wants to be friends with instead of going for shit like certain very well known bands from Norway, Poland and Finland - yes we are lookin at you and we detest you!
Of course we must also talk about the music on The Foul Deth of Engelond - because most of the lyrics are unintelligible unless we witness the warm clean parts, e.g. on a track like ”Vengeance I & II” which is pure atmospheric black metal magic. This track is also a wonderful example of how the band can incorporate field recordings into their medieval soundscape which again form the basis for the full, harsh and spot-on black metal attacks that are so tight, one cannot be lo and behold the execution of the galloping riffs and powerful rhythm section. One can basically feel that this band has now been playing together for years and that everyone is equally involved even if it started as an outlet for Dane’s ideas, and even though he still is the musical mastermind, but nowadays Sacred Son is a real five-piece! That they collaborated with a cello player and a pianist only shows how careful they are when it comes to providing an appropriate soundscape that might even have been similar to those of the late 14th century. The vocal performance is spot on and the shouts, screams and growls are delivered with a fierceness that one might think, Dane and guitarist and fellow vocalist Mark basically jump into one’s living room. All of this is furthermore set into the correct spotlight by producer Chris Fullard, who has also worked with some great bands like Ulver, Boris or Sunn O))), and Randall Dunn /Earth, WITTR, Kayo Dot) who mixed the recording sessions. And, devil in the details, one cannot but be in awe when listening the intro with its nearly broken church bell in the background just before the first riffs kick in and then the first real track (and title track) starts weaving its tight and poetic magic around us.
Of course, one can dismiss this record as it seems questionable as to whether atmospheric black metal records can change the world and end modern-day slavery, but let’s be clear on this: You fight, you can die. You don’t fight, you’re already dead. This template and brilliant record can be the background to your next revolution. You might be hard-pressed finding a more appropriate one. The Foul Deth of Engelond is a milestone in RABM and should also get the attention it deserves. Might make the world a better place in the end!