Sepulcros from Portugal are like a basilisk for they spread fear and incite admiration. The young band will release their debut “Vazio” via metal institution label Transcending Obscurity in March and as this label is known for handpicking some of the finest acts in underground heaviness, one should be sure to check out this mesmerizing record. On their Facebook account the band seems to emphasize the words “Vacuidade Humana” - ‘human emptiness’. This definitely sounds pretty misanthropic and in some way that seems to be another parallel to the monster mentioned before!
Slowly pushing its head out of the abyssal hole it was born and bred in, this venomous hypnotizing monster of a record is able to leave the listener standing still in awe and waiting to be eaten alive by this wave of sound and atmosphere. The band is able to show all elements important for a good atmospheric doom band (or doomy death-metal, if you need another label): Slow acoustic elements as at the beginning of “Hecatombe” where the band really gives guitar heroes NZ and RT the stage for more than two minutes, which are filled with a wonderful intro simultaneously full of relief and mantras just before the drums kick in and the whole song turns into a rollercoaster from slow and melancholic to deep and frightening. And even within this longtrack of nearly nine minutes they are able to find short moments of passage so that it’s not a full-fledged descent all the time. These shorts rest and upwards movements are even more impressive because it becomes clear that this is not a one-hit-wonder band, but that they are here to stay.
When listening to the vocals by SB it becomes clear that this snake here impresses you with its seductive mix of hellish shouts and screams and purgatorial growls, here the words themselves are probably important (one cannot know without the lyrics) but the most important point – as with many atmospheric doom bands – is the way the vocals are embedded into the sound. Where other bands might use a synthesizer to create some levels or spaces, Sepulcros uses one of the guitar lines to lay out vast riffs, while the other adds some short noisy elements or start to drive the song forward with a beefy riff. And in these moments the vocals are important because they are settled over the initial moments when the riffs start so that the audience is (somewhat) accompanied into this next part. And whenever the vast-laid guitar parts becomes more important again, then the vocals are set an inch further back in the mix so that the audience is also taken by the hand and lead towards the next part. The latter is of course very important for long tracks like these here.
Nevertheless, one should not say that this record doesn’t seduce in a visual level, because it has a cover done by maybe the greatest mind in modern 21st century cover painting – Mariusz Lewandowski, whose covers for Falls of Rauros, Abigaill Williams and especially Mizmore are among the most innovative ones you can find. Yet the Polish painter never seems to fall behind in his paintings, they always hit you as “a Lewandowski”.
To put it all in the shell of a basilisk egg – Sepulcros deliver an impressive debut for any metal bands and even more so for the small confines of atmospheric doom metal with lots of well-incorporated death metal-elements. One can not but listen to the dense hissing and chanting of the writhing snake slowly pushing itself higher and higher until it towers over the listener who cannot run away because it is also enamored with the sound of the monster which is about to come down and that will not give him rest until the replay button is pushed.