Sar Isatum – Shurpu

The words “symphonic black metal” still make my spine curl just a bit when I read them (thank Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir for that) but I’m slowly learning to trust the keyboard heavy sub-sub genre again again. Sar Isatum’s Shurpu is helping in the healing process quite a bit, their cinematic take on the genre is still filled with enough piercing screams that I feel at home. Sar Isatum also drop a lot of the typical spooky, gothic pageantry that can go along with this stuff, choosing instead to drape themselves in legends of the Sumarians and Annunaki. How can you go wrong with black metal and ancient aliens?

For the most part, you can’t. Songs like opener “Sar Isatum” and “Black Gate” are some of the strongest tracks on the album, largely in part to the driving percussion that guides the whole album. The keyboards are a necessary evil here, and though they largely work to add a grandiose and cinematic element to the atmosphere they still stray into comical at times. The vocals are your standard Gothenburg throat-shredding variety, a good enough fit for the music but not particularly memorable. THe most memorable vocals parts of the album are when they choose to use chants such as on “Black Gate,” conjuring images of ancient peoples and rituals used to invoke the “gods”.

I kinda wish they had done a bit more with the cover, maybe tossing something other than some standard for the genre robed gentelman smack dab in the middle. I mean, your whole thing is ancient aliens so why not slap a crazy ancient humans meets Close Encounters of the Third Kind moment on there instead? Robed dudes as cover art is just a bit meh in 2017 if you ask me.With at times almost overpowering sympnic elements, Sar Isatum’s “Shurpu” is still worth a few listens if only to bask in the fact that we live in a time where people make ancient aliens black metal. I’m sure Georgiio Tsoukalous would be proud.


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