SABBAT — The Dwelling (review)

SABBAT — The Dwelling album cover Album · 1996 · Black Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
Extreme metal can be accredited to early 80s bands like Venom, Hellhammer and early Bathory each of which showcased a mix of proto-thrash, proto-black and proto-death metal styles before all the respective subgenera would splinter off into various directions. Japan’s SABBAT (as opposed to the English band of the same name) formed all the way back in 1983 and was heavily inspired by these bands, especially Venom and while all those bands would evolve as the 80s ceded into the 90s, SABBAT sorta maintained that evil as fuck mix of 80s speed metal, proto-thrash and first wave black metal.

For that reason i’ve never been a huge fan of this SABBAT but there are exceptions and the album i return to the most is this exquisitely designed hour long single track titled "The Melody of the Death Mask" which not only features a brilliant display of an ever-changing musical callithump of various musical styles under the auspice of blackened thrash metal but also features one of my favorite album covers in all of the metal universe! The cover art does pretty much prognosticate what you should expect with THE DWELLING as well. While rooted in the same blackened thrash noise metal that SABBAT had latched onto since the beginning, THE DWELLING is a masterwork composition more in the vein of an epic classical opus from a time long ago.

While the 59:48 album is just shy of an hour’s playing time, it is amazing in how it crafts that much playing time off of a few simple melodies that are teased out into different directions with lengthy bursts of blackened thrash metal passages and cemented together with more tender transitions such as the acoustic classic guitar sequence that occurs about the half way mark. Another brilliant feature is the psycho piano parts towards the end and the coolest thing of all is that the whole shebang is played by the trio of Gezol (bass, vocals), Temis Osmond (guitars, vocals, keyboards) and Zorugelion (drums). The overall effect of these subtle changes that alternate with completely different stylistic approaches is very much in the vein of how Jethro Tull crafted an album’s worth of changes with a single theme on their masterpiece “Thick As A Brick.”

THE DWELLING begins with a catchy melodic hook that is nurtured for a while in a classic heavy metal approach fortified with thrash metal heft and then allowed it to shift gears a bit and slowly morph into a different series of riffing. The tempos change around with some crafty instrumental parts, tasty guitar solos and when the vocals do chime in they supposedly revolve around a concept but i’m honestly not sure what it is and can’t seem to find any info about it and in the long run doesn’t really matter since the music is completely enthralling and in a big way. For an hour’s worth of playing time for one sprawling track it would be very easy to lose track but somehow despite all odds SABBAT succeeds in keeping the album engaging.

My only minor gripe is that some sequences do play on a bit too long as the band milks certain ideas for this is actually not very common. The usual status quo is to embellish an idea and its possibilities and then shift on to something similar but different. For example after the first twenty minutes winds down, the music suddenly bursts into a new thrash metal sequence that continues on with different guitar solos, varying drumming patterns and tempo changes. Despite THE DWELLING bringing Edge of Sanity’s lauded “Crimson” to mind, this one is not particularly progressive at least in terms of crafty complexities and time signature changes but it is very artful in how it stitches together various compositions and fuses them into one monstrous musical adventure. By far my favorite SABBAT album and one that only gets better each time i give it a spin.
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