Saros - Acrid Plains
Profound Lore Records
Blackened Progressive Metal
7 songs (52:51)
Release year: 2009
Saros, Profound Lore Records
Reviewed by Goat
Surprise of the month

Although I was initially put off by Acrid Plains’ artwork, it clearly being the sort of typical thrown-together nonsense that your average Black Metal band loves to use to inevitably mark itself out as B-division, a song randomly cropped up in my playlist and made me spit tea over my breakfast in surprise, and some subsequent research on the band revealed just how wrong I was. Hailing from California, the four-piece includes drummer Blood Eagle, who also beat the drums for short-lived USBM horde Weakling (either a group of staggering genius or a tasteless imitation of ‘proper’ Black Metal, depending on where you stand) and Amber Asylum collaborator Leila Abdul-Rauf on guitars and vocals, clearly marking them out as different. Actually listening to the music, you can hear a variety of influences, from Black to Prog to the most underground and Dissection-y Melodeath you can imagine.

I actually had no idea that Saros’ vocalist was female until I read up on the band; from the title opening track alone, with its acoustic Pink Floyd-esque psychedelia that soon leads into the sort of Post-Black melody that Enslaved have done so well recently, you’d think a pillar of the Norwegian scene was guesting on vocals, such is the malevolent snarl that faces you. Her clean vocals on later tracks are dreamy and rather beautiful, and I know there’s a persistent crowd of foolish readers that disdain any Metal album that has the faintest touch of a woman on it, but even they should have no problem with this, as harsh vocals far outweigh the clean. The melodies are amazing, the playing magnificent – imagine Dark Tranquillity crossed with recent Enslaved, and you nearly have it, but Saros are defiantly Progressive in design, flights of guitar solos taking you beyond the usual remit of Melodeath and into Prog Metal territory.

Having made all those Melodeath references, Saros do have a definite Black Metal turn to them. Although there’s all this melody floating around, the band have plenty of head-down riffage at play, which has an atmosphere several shades darker than the usual. Of course, whether you recognise this as you rock out to the likes of As The Tyrant Falls Ill, complete with both riffy headbang-a-thons and Opeth-y Prog flights, is another matter. Above all, this is an enjoyable album and any Metalhead worth his salt will get a lot from this. Criticisms? Well, the songs could be a little more distinct, although they’re all excellent, particularly the gentle crescendo of Reversion and the twelve-minute finale of The Sky Will End Soon. Saros’ debut is ultimately a mixture of Black, Prog and Death that touches upon genius more than a few times, that will appeal to many, and shows yet again the superiority of Profound Lore’s roster.

Killing Songs :
Acrid Plains, As The Tyrant Falls Ill, Reversion, The Sky Will End Soon
Goat quoted 83 / 100
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