Formed in early 2020, At Sacrament used the downtime enforced by the global pandemic wisely and have just unleashed their debut EP A New Dawn. Hailing from the heart of South America (Paraguay), they share a certain aesthetic with the likes of Sepultura and Sarcofago, yet with a sound that encompasses everything from traditional to black metal. They have a sound that’s pleasantly hard to categorise.
“Saints Of Darkness” is an eerie opener that begins with choral monks evoking some strange incantation as walls of glacial synths are added until it becomes a towering piece of brutalism. As a brief instrumental introduction it’s more than passable but, rather frustratingly, it feels disjointed from the following four tracks. A good intro (think Slayer’s “Hell Awaits”) should set the scene and segue into the album properly but the leap between “Saints Of Darkness” and the title track is too far. Which is a shame because “A New Dawn” finds At Sacrament arriving with all guns blazing. Powered forth by Renato Zandonai’s powerhouse drumming, the guitars arrive like a Panzer division rolling across the steppes and it all adds up to a brutal sonic assault.
“Mental Overload” comes laden with a heavy groove and swings like a huge wrecking ball before quickly evolving into an all out thrasher. Vocalist Alexis Martinez has a nice throaty rasp, not dissimilar to Kreator’s Mille Petrozza, which adds to the overall Teutonic feel. Barely pausing for breath, “Mental Overload” is the musical equivalent of a runaway locomotive as guitarists Nicolás Peralta and Fabian Giménez riff in tandem and trade blistering solos. “Corrupted Mind” takes a more measured approach but loses none of its strength by trading speed for power as the two six stringers weave intricate webs that inject a nice change of pace. However, it seems At Sacrament can’t resist a good thrash and they shift a couple of gears at the last furlong to ensure “Corrupted Mind” races over the finishing line.
The rolling thunder and tolling bell that heralds EP closer “Visions Of Madness” would have made a better introduction than “Saints Of Darkness”. It’s short, sharp and succinct and creates a nice little soundscape that sets the stage for the coming musical storm. With Alexis barking his lyrics especially hard “Visions Of Madness” is something of a musical maelstrom that sweeps the listener up in its swirling vortex.
A New Dawn is a classy debut that contains a few rough spots that time will surely iron out. Future mayhem beckons.
A New Dawn is out now.