Escarion are a band with Ancient roots and began life as a very different entity. Starting in the Thrash Metal act Vintage Ruin, a trio of members broke ranks in search for a heavier alternative. Their creation was Escarion, building on their previous work and drawing upon new influences, they birthed EP ‘Pinnacle of Neglect‘, a bleak offering with an older styled sound reminiscent of early Black and Death Metal records by Death, Behemoth and Mayhem. Line up changes then put the breaks on the project temporarily but new recruits breathed fresh life and they settled on a concept for their debut album, The Seven Deadly Sins, exploring the relation to these sins with the human-psyche. They asked themselves the time honoured question: “Are these ‘sins’ mortally evil or immoral or are they human nature which should be embraced?”
Recorded and mixed by Chris Themelco at Monolith Studios and mastered by Thomas Plec Johannson at The Panic Room, “Pillars of Faith” is The Seven Deadly Sins divided into one sin per track, bookended by an opening an closing cut to create a nine track magnum opus. Stylistically, the firely opening “Inferno” leans towards Technical Death Metal with flourishes of lead work and a face melter of a solo. Lyrically it serves to introduce the concept of seven judges, one per sin, which makes for an interesting view point and something to think on after the album is done. That sets the tone for the first song that the band actually recorded in “Envy” which has some “Ember To Inferno” era Trivium guitar work within its structure and tone. As with the opening cut, the lead work is incredible at times, raising the hairs on the back of your neck as it plays out and they’ve allowed that time to breathe with longer instrumental passages in longer songs which gives you as the listener more opportunity to take in its glory. The concept behind the record means that Escarion have given us an instant connection with them, everyone knows the seven deadly sins and if you don’t, go and watch Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt in Seven. It’s true to say that this is a path which other bands have taken, but Escarion have very much gone their own way with “Pillars of Faith“. The clanky Metal bass tone of “Gluttony” is deeply satisfying but the twist of the knife is lyrically. This isn’t just a tale of eating to self destruction, instead taking the opportunity to also speak from the view point of someone starving, looking upon someone in that situation. Perhaps there are politically and socially aware undertones here, if they are, they are certainly well hidden.
Equally, the Blackend Thrash of “Lust” speaks of the torture of the need, like an insatiable bloodlust that simply will not subside. The glory of this one is some melodic touches and even a synth fade to close which serves to bejewel a solid granite affair. New guttural lows are heard with “Greed“, the usual shrill and raspy vocal bolstered by the clever change ups. Lyrically tied together with its predecessor with that insatiably, it also speaks of the sin in terms of a curse on humanity, while resurging through those Trivium esq leads. Certainly if you’re a fan of solos and virtuoso leads them this record from the Melbourne Australia residents has them in joyful abundance. The mournful “Pride” introduces more of a Black Metal backbone with a meloncholic atmosphere and bursts of blast beats that builds on the work of masters like Hell-Born or Behemoth with a nod to more modern acts like EOS. It has a glorious rise and fall that is accompanied by a stand out percussive performance from Tim Bottams, one of the aforementioned new recruits since the bands debut EP. Incidentally that isn’t something to be dismissed however due to the line up changes, this new record is something we’ve looked at independently rather than comparatively.
The tortured vocal of “Wrath” falls firmly in the Black Metal World, lamenting the curse of being human and being condemned to a prison planet in Earth. John Arhondis has an impressive vocal range and the plague winds which eminate from his throat carry with them an insightful view on humanity. The cathartic writings of “Sloth” step away from the theme slightly while fully embracing Black Metal musically with the exception of a sublime Death Metal solo. Focusing on depression and a lack of empathy and warmth in Humanity, it’s melodies within a bludgeoning percussive battery are really something meloncholic and gripping, embracing the icy grasp of death and oblivion in the great abyss. It would actually be a fine place to end the record but the final onslaught of “Home (Where The Heart Is)” is an encore that is equally well fitting. The technical solo ignites the flames of the funeral pyre of a cut that is actually the title track lyrically. It again has a wonderful ebb and flow while the addition of some synths provide something for the galloping guitar work to rise from like a phoenix from the black depths [9/10]
Home (Where The Heart Is)
“Pillars of Faith” by Escarion is out 29th January 2021 and is available for pre-order over at bandcamp