Of Golden Verse


From their record label's website, "A beacon of iridescent musical light amid the torpid fog […]
March 10, 2023
Sermon - Of Golden Verse album cover

From their record label's website, "A beacon of iridescent musical light amid the torpid fog of modern life, SERMON blazed brightly but briefly when they released their debut album back in 2019. Led by the shadowy figurehead known only as Him, they blurred boundaries between forward-thinking progressive metal and something deeper, darker and more emotionally demanding. Aptly titled "Birth of the Marvelous," their first foray garnered widespread acclaim and the effusive support of listeners around the world. But then, after a single live show at Prog In Park in Poland, there was only silence. Addressing their newest album, "Broadly speaking, the whole thing is just about abuses of power," Him states. "Whatever that might be. It could be as big as war, or it could be a more individual thing, like suicide. They're just things I've noted down and turned into an analogy. That is the overarching theme, but it's not a story. It's lots of little stories, hidden in analogies. If I was too literal, I'd probably upset people!"

The album has ten songs, and "The Great Marsh" is the first. It's a very short intro, leading to "Royal." The sound is hardened and angled, with tense tones and a vocal cadence that reflects the instruments. The clean vocals are also very well done. This song is full of nuances, and the sound changes frequently while keeping core values. "Light the Witch" is another tense and heavy song. One of the more interesting features on the album is how well the band lays back and then delivers strikes with the speed of an asp. This song also has enough melody to keep it interesting. In fact, the final couple minutes are downright pretty, in a twisted sort of way. "In Black" is another short segue, designed to wake up your taste buds.

"The Distance" opens with a smooth and sultry sound, from some bass notes with attitude. The tension is so thick that it reduces your vision to nearly zero. Four songs in, and you get the distinct sense of why this band has such a promised pedigree...they are firing darts on all cylinders. This sound is reflective of the theme...there is such a chasm between those who abuse power and the reality that the rest of us live in. "Senescence" refers to "the condition or process of deterioration with age." Perhaps it is a reminder that time will claim us all. The tones are much smoother, but there is still a good deal of tension behind the smiles. A longer ambient passage changes quickly to a more authoritative ending, but questions linger for me. "Wake the Silent" is a heavier and more aggressive offering with choppy and bossy rhythms. This song is very demonstrative in that you can easily hear his anger, and his resolve in the vocals. There is no tip-toeing around the issue. The final minute is a brutal reminder of the honesty.

"Golden" is anything but, oddly enough. When you hear the word "golden" you think of things that are shining and shimmering. But what you get in this song is a heavy dose of despair, and even regret. "The rain came down so golden" he croons, with a desperate edge. The tones grow angrier towards the end. "Centre" is the last of three short instrumentals. "Departure" closes the album. It leaves no doubt that the anger that was building has finally boiled over. Drums rattle at you with a machine gun pace, and the rhythms that follow are sterile, dark, and destructive. The darkness grows until it surrounds you, leaving you no room to escape. You might as well embrace your demise at this point.

Do not ever judge a book by the cover. Take a look at the album artwork. It's an unassuming shade of red with a golden door in the middle. Take a step forward, and open the door, and the world you encounter is nothing like you have seen before. Forget what you have been taught about conventional genre labels, because this album doesn't fit a singular mold. It has elements of Progressive, Melodic, Doom, and other genres, that come together with a synergy that holds them together stronger than glue. I was just remarking the other day that this year hasn't produced a lot of masterpiece albums for me, but then "Of Golden Verse" came along, and that has all changed.

10 / 10









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"Of Golden Verse" Track-listing:

1. The Great Marsh
2. Royal
3. Light the Witch
4. In Black
5. The Distance
6. Senescence
7. Wake the Silent
8. Golden
9. Centre
10. Departure

Sermon Lineup:

Him - Guitar, Keys, Vocals, Tongue Drum
James Stewart - Drums & Percussion
Lawrence Jenner - Bass

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