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Sijjin – Sumerian Promises

sijjin – sumerian promises


The death of Necros Christos no doubt left a hole in the heart of many Death Metal aficionados across the world (myself included). Luckily, while Malte was in the process of ending said band, the foundations of a new act were laid in 2017. From this gestation came Sijjin, a putrid love letter to the nascent Death Metal of the 1980s. To do this, he enlisted the Basque drummer of Necros Christos (Ivan Hernandez) and another veteran of the Basque metal scene (Ekaitz Garmendia) to turn this vision into reality. The release of 2019s ‘Angel of the Eastern Gate’ already gave us a taste of what was to come, but the real deal was the arrival of their debut, ‘Sumerian Promises’.

This record holds no reservations and has no time for meandering and dispels any notion this might simply be a continuation of Necros Christos. Right out of the gate with the opener ‘Daemon Blessex’, the band grace us with a brand of Death Metal that is archaic in every way possible. It pulls from all the best parts of 80s Death Metal, adhering to the thrashy roots of the genre, with all its palm muted riffs. There is no shortage of them here, constantly deploying multiple licks throughout each track. This is all thanks to the incredible work of Ekaitz, who Malte decided to entrust guitar duties after hearing him play live and “having his jaw drop”. Regardless of whether some would have preferred Malte to continue playing guitar as he did on Necros Christos, the choice was made for a reason. Ekaitz’s guitar playing genuinely captures the frantic and exciting nature that made early Death Metal so engaging in the first place. This is particularly apparent in the solo work, as it has a very Trey Azagthoth feeling to them with its wild and adventurous feel – just listen to the multiple solos on the title track and how it almost feels like the fretboard is aurally melting in front of your own ears.

There is also praise to be heaped on Ivan. He is not only capable of replicating the blastbeat techniques of those starting years, but his fills are imperative to creating a great sense of groove in the music. Malte of course does the same by providing the rhythmic backbone through his bass lines, but also his unique vocal approach. In a sea of average and indistinguishable vocalists, his style has always  stood out. His growls are raw and raspy, sounding like an ancient being emerging from a tomb – something which suits the music perfectly as it deals with ancient and dark tales of Sumeria. More importantly, they are clear enough to make out most of the time and allows us to even sing along. Because at its core, this record is not just excellent Death Metal, it is extremely catchy in its straightforward approach to song structures. While some might interpret this as me saying this music is simple, it’s not. What I mean is the record is an endless source of hooks that inevitably make you not just want to headbang but also sing along to. It’s very difficult not to listen to a track like ‘Darkness on Saqqara’ and not feel the urge to (pathetically) join in the fray.

Many bands purport to be the heirs or inspired by “Old School Death Metal”, many of which fail miserably or merely produce a hollow shell of the original product. To some extent this is natural, Death Metal at this stage is over 40 years old and it is difficult to tap into the well of influences to come up with a unique or fresh offering. Sijjin are the first to tell you they are not unique, but they certainly have canonized the feeling and energy that made Morbid Angel, Death, Necrovore, Poison, Slaughter, Possessed and many more such important and long-standing acts within the Death Metal realm. There is a little bit of everything mixed in the music without overtly copying anyone, making for one of the best Death Metal debuts of the past decade. If you want to listen to the primordial ooze of the genre through the lens of 3 very seasoned and talented musicians, this is the album for you.

Tenebrae Records

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