Review: “The Path To Bedlam” Sublation

Having set the tone and built some anticipation by releasing a couple of demos in 2021, Sablation prepared the ground for their debut full length album “The Path To Bedlam” with a bombing run before moving in with their metaphorical Troops of Doom. The cold dark embrace of Technical Death Metal is the vehicle of choice for the duo in multi instrumentalist Max Svalgard (who plays guitars and bass while handling vocal duties here) and drummer Danny Piselli (who also produced, engineered and mixed the record), something which the pair are well versed in. You see, the pair were original members of a band called Fisthammer, formed in 2008 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who after a pair of albums and multiple national tours that band went on hiatus seemingly never to return. Five years on the pair regrouped in 2020 with a vision to release a brand of Death Metal that rejects the lyrical confines of genre while musically and sonically embracing the raw and visceral facets of their roots and this is the result of those endeavours…

The sound of pouring rain and the chimes of a bell set the scene for “The Path To Bedlam” as they lead into some choral ethereal notes before introduction piece “The Sectioning” falls away having served its purpose as a palate cleaner that creates a sense of otherworldly darkness. There is barely a pause for breath as the 13 second pre-vocal introduction of  “Trepanning of the Evangelics” charges in headfirst bringing a full Technical Death Metal onslaught to the unsuspecting brain, the jolt a spine juddering electric shock for those who did not anticipate it. Multi instrumentalist Svalgard proves his worth in all three of his disciplines, the solo that closes this one before the final bell tolls being and absolute face melter. John Norcross of Coffin Dust is the first of a quartet of guests to make an appearance on the record, adding a stunning flamenco acoustic guitar piece to the otherwise brutal “Let The Fire Burn“, giving it a unique twist in the tail. While that reduces the intensity somewhat, it turns up the atmosphere which works incredibly well before Rocco Minichiello of Release the Blackness joins for “Hypnotic Regression“. A cut with flavours of both Groove Metal and Melodic Death Metal in what is an absolute riff fest, the likes of which other bands would kill to create the melodies from the guitar work are the perfect counterweight to the vocal savagery on display. A spoken word in German in “Black Monday” from Dominik Winter of Frigoris adds a sheen to the rampaging onslaught of the track but doesn’t stop the juggernaut from crushing all in its path as vibrant riffs dance from the fretboard around your skull like fireworks going off inside your brain.

A rich solo in “The Alchemist” is the opposing force to the high energy incendiary rhythmic riffs and blasting from Piselli that breathes life into this one, another neck snapper for your listening pleasure. While the influence of bands like The Black Dahlia Murder is present there is a vast array of technical prowess on show here that outshines the competition. The final guest is Tom Geldschläger of Fountainhead who joins for “Haunted Shores“, another which creates atmosphere cleverly while remaining restless and relentless in its pacing. At times feels fast an loose like its been played live, which simply can not be due to the technical nature of the performance and the fact that this isn’t a full band. That’s a trick of the mind played by way in which the cut has been recorded and makes it feel more vibrant and as such this is a true force of nature, the music reflects the stormy seas as they crash upon the shores depicted in the title. Arguably the finest kit performance on the album is on “Evoked Through Obsidian” with Piselli pulling out all the stops for some monstrous fills and jackhammer footwork that threatens tectonic plate movement. Menacing and sinister with some hits and Deathcore “Eulogy” is an absolute battering ram, the vocals being matched in fierceness by the riffs, the slower mid section being perfectly executed. An injection of melody that has adds a Post-Hardcore vibe due to the choice of guitar tone makes “I Will Show You Fear In a Handful of Dust” an interesting grand finale with intriguing intricate riffs contrasting against the unstoppably brutal vocals. Clever use of vocal layering means that Svalgard has a shriller, uglier vocal part underneath this usual bark which gives the whole thing a sinister and almost haunting atmospheric by the end. This is what nightmares are made of [8/10]

Track Listing

1. The Sectioning
2. Trepanning of the Evangelics
3. Let The Fire Burn (ft. John Norcross of Coffin Dust)
4. Hypnotic Regression (ft. Rocco Minichiello of Release the Blackness)
5. Black Monday (ft. Dominik Winter of Frigoris)
6. The Alchemist
7. Haunted Shores (ft. Tom Geldschläger of Fountainhead)
8. Evoked Through Obsidian
9. Eulogy
10. I Will Show You Fear In a Handful of Dust

The Path To Bedlam” by Sublation is out 13th September 2022 and is available over at bandcamp

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