Dark Sermon: Crushing

When it comes to making fans of heavy shit prick up their ears, there are three ingredients a band needs at least one of: be fun, be convincingly pissed off, and write good, memorable songs. If you’ve got one, you may be on to something. If you have two, you’re in business. And, if you’ve got all three, you’ll make people sit up and pay attention fast. Hailing from death metal capital Tampa, Florida, Dark Sermon manage all three spectacularly.

Sounding something like a royally riled up version of The Black Dahlia Murder with added modern technicality a la Job For A Cowboy, the newcomers have just released debut album In Tongues, and it’s a vicious arsehole of an album in the best possible way. So much so that you wonder where the hell do they get all that aggression from.

“I’m pissed at myself for thinking the way I do,” explains frontman Johnny Crowder. “A majority of my lyrics are introspective. I talk a lot about what’s wrong with me, and with my brain. I am just naturally a very spiteful and pessimistic person. I find countless faults in the society we call our own; the way humans treat each other and the earth they inhabit. We are a disgusting race, and sadly enough, I’m a part of it.”

While there is no doubting their vicious musical quality, don’t let the above attitude lead you into thinking this band are unrelenting, misanthropic brutality. They are destructive, yes, but there’s a melodic core to their wrath that makes them far better at hooking you in than the Immolations of the world. Apparently, that nearly wasn’t the case, however.

“The guys were really into bands like As I Lay Dying and August Burns Red,” Johnny tells Hammer. “I was more into hardcore and punk, but also awkwardly into brutal death and slam. I was convinced we would be some sort of Trash Talk/Devourment hybrid. Thank God that never came to fruition!”

The balance between melody and viciousness is a difficult one to find, the risk being that one will either water down or overpower the other. But In Tongues manages to weld the two expertly – particularly impressive for a debut – and the result are pit-losing-its-marbles moments aplenty. So it makes sense they seem keen to make an impression when you see them live.

“We put a lot of work into our live performance,” emphasises Johnny. “I think that our live show, beyond recordings or merch or tours or management or any of that stuff, is what makes us truly stand out. We give 150% or we don’t play. And we always play.”

In Tongues is out now via Nuclear Blast

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment. Login »