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Sacramentum was a melodic death/black/thrash metal band from Göteborg, Sweden and was formed in 1990. The band was initially named Tumulus, although shortly before the release of their demo "Sedes Impiorum", their name was changed to Sacramentum.

Their first official release was the MCD "Finis Malorum", which was self-financed, recorded in 1994, and re-released one year later (in 1995) by the French label Adipocere Records. Their positively-received MCD was followed in 1996 by their first full-length album "Far Away From The Sun". This debut album came out to near-unanimously positive reviews and is still regarded as one of the finest melodic black/death metal albums. Their subsequent albums, 1997's "The Coming Of Chaos" and 1999's "Thy Black Destiny" focused less on a melodic death/black metal sound and more on a fusion of black, death and thrash metal. Their current status is unclear since little has been heard from them since the
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SACRAMENTUM albums / top albums

SACRAMENTUM Far Away From the Sun album cover 4.02 | 10 ratings
Far Away From the Sun
Melodic Black Metal 1996
SACRAMENTUM The Coming of Chaos album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
The Coming of Chaos
Melodic Black Metal 1997
SACRAMENTUM Thy Black Destiny album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Thy Black Destiny
Melodic Black Metal 1999


SACRAMENTUM Finis Malorum album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Finis Malorum
Melodic Black Metal 1994

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SACRAMENTUM Far Away From the Sun

Album · 1996 · Melodic Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Conor Fynes
'Far Away from the Sun' - Sacramentum (88/100)

More recent times have arguably given melodic black metal a bad rep. Melody, of course, is the most generally accessible side of music, and that accessibility would seem to conflict directly with a genre that would otherwise refute any concessions to the casual listener. Even if the impression of melody as benign musical ingredient has been enforced and reaffirmed by countless black metal bands since, the opposite was best exemplified by Sacramentum. Although they're typically overshadowed by the legend of Dissection, the overwhelming comparison is unfair, outside of the fact that, yes, they were both using melody with an evil intent, and both hailed from Sweden.

Where many Scandinavian black metal bands (Dissection not least of all) owe part of their legendary status to their image and destructive acts, Sacramentum had no such pretence. Whatever respect they've earned from the black metal community in years since is derived purely from their music, more specifically their debut, Far Away from the Sun. Black metal was already becoming a saturated entity in 1996; with more than enough younger acts leaping on the heels of Bathory and Mayhem, Sacramentum weaponized melody in black metal to new heights. The result is an album as cold, eerie and memorable as anything I've heard in the genre's melodic sphere. And yes, I'm including Dissection in that tally.

The weight of my impression with Sacramentum lies in the way they've so effectively merged consonant beauty with an unsettling, aggressive atmosphere. The album's opener and single "Fog's Kiss" exemplifies the things Sacramentum do so well here. Where the accepted convention with an album of this sort would be to pad it with some kind of faux-spooky 'intro' (add blowing wind samples and howling wolves for bonus points), they begin Far Away from the Sun without a second to spare. It kicks off with an instant intensity that's rarely been replicated by acts in their neighbourhood. Nicklas Rudolfsson's drumwork is incredibly precise with his onslaught of blastbeats, but he also knows when to tone the aggression down. Nisse Karlén's vocals rush past with a far greater urgency than you'd expect from such a melody-centered band.

For such a tight combo, the riffs of guitarist Anders Brolycke still ring as the most striking aspect of Far Away from the Sun. Great riffs are hard to come by in virtually any type of metal, and this album is filled with them. Sacramentum revel in the genrebound tremolo-leads and the soaring rhythms, but some of the greatest moments here happen when Brolycke's riffs emphasize beauty over blackened convention. Such is the case 1:55 into "Fog's Kiss", where he diverts off course with a playful lead, or a strikingly gorgeous part three minutes into "Blood Will Be Spilled" where consonant harmonies are exploited in a rare case truly deserving of being called epic.

When it comes to my favourite melodic black metal albums, I may be torn between this and Windir's Arntor. While Arntor sounded like it had been composed from the depths of Romanticism, Sacramentum uses many of the same tricks to create a far eviller sound, more in keeping with the original intent of black metal. Sacramentum employ guitar harmonies that would put Iron Maiden's best work to shame, and the beauty in this music is often immense. Even so, I can listen to Sacramentum, and get no sense that they're offering this beauty to improve my life as a listener, much less give me a warm, consonant hug. If any comparison with Dissection bears fruit, it's in these two bands' common aim to use melody in a rare context, using it to create negative feeling through negativity. Even in black metal, that is a rare thing to behold. There's no rulebook on how to get those feelings across through generally beautiful means. Although melodic black metal favours mediocrity more than most sub-genres, the good stuff tends to be great, and Far Away from the Sun stands tall alongside the very best of them.

SACRAMENTUM Far Away From the Sun

Album · 1996 · Melodic Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
The ornate cover art to Sacramentum's debut reminds me a little to that of Emperor's In the Nightside Eclipse, and whilst Sacramentum's focus is more melodic than symphonic I still hear the influence of the black metal elders in it. In particular, the lyrical themes - about a protagonist wrapped in a whirlwind of occult secrets and evil - remind me a lot of the lyrics to songs like I Am the Black Wizards and other Emperor compositions dating from the Mortiis era. With just enough influence from Gothenburg-style death metal to spice up affairs but not so much that it tips into blackened death metal, the album places Sacramentum as one of the better me-too black metal bands of the 1990s.

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