For all of the second-wave worship bands that exist there are few that rival the might of Sargeist, perhaps only S.V.E.S.T. & Katharsis could hold a candle to the Finns, yet with the death of Katharsis and perpetual stasis of S.V.E.S.T., the reins are firmly in the hands of Sargeist to create sublime Satanic second-ave worship. Unfortunately after a steady stream of quality releases that peaked with "Let The Devil In", follow-up album "Feeding The Crawling Shadows" left a lot to be desired, it was by no-means bad but was disappointing after 2010’s "Let The Devil In", so it was with some trepidation that I ventured into "Unbound".
It would appear that Sargeist are back closer to their earlier form, "Unbound" is a raw and explosive album that features some incredible tracks; does it live up to the legacy of "Let The Devil In"? No, but it is a competent and catchy work of art that encapsulates the best things of the second-wave.
Where Sargeist have always proven themselves worthy is through their incredibly melodic tremolo riffs and catchy groove laden slower sections, "From the Black Coffin Lair" is a great example of this and it’s great to see the re-emergence of some of these passages like in "Hunting Eyes" (which has a section very reminiscent of Burzum’s "War" or Bathory’s "Born for Burning"). "Unbound" struggles at times to produce the same earworm melodies that were plentiful in their 2010 release, with "Unbound" (title track) and the final track "Grail of the Pilgrim" being the closest approximation to a hyper-melodic song. That being said, the riffs found in "Unbound" are great, there is a steady blend of traditional simple chord riffs that segue into more technical and 'evil' sounding riffs, such as those found on "To Wander The Nights Eternal Path" or "Her Mouth Is An Open Grave".
Musically this is perhaps Sargeists most varied album, it showcases a wide variety of approaches, some not displayed as well as they are here before, yet all of them are in keeping with the genres roots and whilst Sargeist never really seem to exist to challenge or push the envelope of black metal, they do an exceptionally good job of making 'old' influences feel fresh and engaging.
It’s also worth noting that the production infuses the album with a darkness that I haven’t felt before on a Sargeist record, it feels cold and maniacal. New vocalist Profundus delivering an anguished performance punctuated with a fearsome presence drenched in reverb that echoes through the instruments onslaught.
For those fans of Sargeist, Behexen and Horna, for whom some albums are hit and miss, I can happily report that this is a 'hit' for the Finnish horde. For those looking for traditional black metal, there’s plenty hear to enjoy and is far more convincing than the recent Cultes Des Ghoules record.
Reviewed by Dan Thaumitan