Sermon - Of Golden Verse (Prosthetic Records)
There is something pure about anonymous art and music, an intimacy of sorts where listeners can focus on the material rather than the face(s) of those who crafted it. Furthermore, there is also a sense of wonder within each track: who is the pen and voice behind the songs and what is their story? These two concepts combined can, in many cases, result in an album feeling less like a few grooves on a record and more like a spiritual journey into unknown waters.
In the age of social media, anonymity is a challenge to maintain. Yet, for the mastermind behind the band Sermon, the shadows have continued to be on his side. Known to the world only as Him, his palette of progressive metal has been put to work on a canvas of atmospheric music. The result are the ten incredible tracks of Sermon's second album, Of Golden Verse.
Despite an intimidating welcome to the album with "Royal", a track reminiscent of the works of Opeth and Katatonia, the multi-instrumental talents of Him, not to mention his powerful tenor voice, are apparent instantly. Picking up the pace a bit, "Light the Witch" and "The Distance" border on Tool levels of ambiance while remaining easily digestible and, therefore, enjoyable.
As the longest song on the album, "Senescence" enters territory worthy of a nod from more recent releases from Anathema. Introspective and varied in its instrumentation, the track is like a deep dive to place of reflection, before surfacing back in the real world during the song's final movement.
Living up to is name, "Wake The Silent" begins with a fury of drums delivered by drummer James Stewart (Decapitated, formerly of Vader, current live drums for Belphegor). Referred to by Him as "the backbone" of the band, if progressive metal might seem a bit left field for Stewart, closing track "Departure" and its relentless blast beats are a testament to Stewart's impressive resume and his perfect place in Sermon.
Described as an "angrier" album than 2019's Birth Of The Marvelous, Him recognized the new level of aggression in his music, albeit unintentional. To that point, Sermon proves that it is not always necessary to write an album with the mission to release something more intense or brutal. With Of Golden Verse, the natural heaviness feels authentic and appropriate; a true master work of emotion, darkness and light, and self discovery.
The Metal Mayan review:
A good emotionally charged progressive album will push you to reflect on feelings and memories, but a great one will stand by your side as you do so. Of Golden Verse is definitely the latter, and quite possibly one of the best of its kind.
Listening to "The Distance" on repeat, each time brought me back to a place in my memory unique from the last. A walk through the park with my dog on a warm autumn afternoon when I was 12, stumbling through the streets of Manhattan a little tipsier than I should have been one night in spring in my late 20s, the tears in my eyes that summer my heart was truly broken.
Whoever Him is and whatever his story has been so far, whether he meant to or not, his music is like a friend to me, and I am sure would be one to anyone with burdens of grief and riddles in their mind yet to be solved. But the music does not judge or criticize: in fact, it is more than understanding.
Visit your local record store and pick up Of Golden Verse, out 31 March on Prosthetic Records.
Advanced copy courtesy of Breaking the Law PR and Prosthetic Records