Home > Music > Sadus – Swallowed In Black (1990)

Sadus – Swallowed In Black (1990)

folderSadus, better known as the band that brought us Steve DiGiorgio (lender of bass guitar to everyone), was yet another one of those to succumb to the lure of technicality as death metal emerged from an independent movement. They do bear some similarities to last week’s subject, albeit dragged through the earthquakes and wildfires of the Californian frontier… don’t look at me like that! I’ve never been further west than Texas in my life. More seriously, since this album was forged in one of the many American metal ‘scenes’, you can and should expect it to differ in some ways from its European brethren, even if both of them probably had a lot of the same records on their shelves.

Sadus is a lot more abrasive and direct than many of the bands I’ve been discussing in the last month or so. Part of this is the production, which is both loudness war’d and equalized to have plenty of treble. The vocalist employed (Darren Travis) is also something of a shrieker; he’s quite loud and intent on screaming his head off. I find the lyrics he performs to be nothing particularly special (although definitely competent), but he seems to have an instinct for vocal rhythms that keep him out of the generic circle pit.

Despite this, Sadus remains relatively intricate on Swallowed In Black, and much of this is comes from DiGiorgio’s basslines. I occasionally like to pull out the comparison to Death’s 1991 album Human, although in its original incarnation that album was poorly mixed to the point that it rendered poor Steve inaudible. He seems to play a lot more chords than your average metal bassist, which obviously allows him to play distinct lines more often than he otherwise could. Even when he isn’t, he often adds variation by transposing his patterns; sometimes by octaves, sometimes by other intervals. Ironically, the monophonic runs that I’d usually associate with show up more in the guitars, which have adopted large gobs of death metal technique like tremelo and an overall atonal/dissonant approach to riffwriting. The drums prove to be the exception, although they’re almost always fast and loud. In a way, they’re the glue that holds this album together simply by being less complicated than their surroundings.

I suppose all that really separates Sadus from the more typical death metal bands of the time (stuff like Morbid Angel, Suffocation, Cannibal Corpse, etc.) is their more obvious debt to early underground extreme metal. “Morbid Visions” by Sepultura comes to mind, and as befits a second album, there are even a few nods towards extended composition here. Still, Sadus’s strengths come from their aggression and violence more than from their technicality; the individual riffs and flourishes here are not really as impressive as the overall aesthetic they contribute to. That in itself reveals a bit of a dichotomy in songwriting methods for metal musicians – do you emphasize a riff, or do you try to complement it with the riffs around it? The answer may change on a surprisingly frequent basis.

Highlights: “Man Infestation”, “The Wake”, “In Your Face”, “Images”

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