Review: “Mauta Tala” by Sarpa

The story goes that back in 2018, David Baxter, a man known for his work as the drummer of Plutonian Shore and formerly Skrew and Škan ventured forth to write and record some ideas that wouldn’t fit his main squeeze. Choosing the moniker Sarpa he demonstrated his prowess as a multi instrumentalist and vocalist with debut album “Solivagus” which was released two years later in 2020. Primarily rooted in the essence of Blackened Death Metal, Sarpa allows Baxter room to experiment with other ingredients, including Industrial, Progressive and Thrash as a vehicle for creative development aided and abetted by Tony Petrocelly of Trepan Studios who mixed and subsequently mastered.

Fast forward to 2022 and influenced by time spent in the American Southwest desert, Baxter wrote sophomore record “Mauta Tala” which translates to “Death Rhythm” in the ancient Sanskrit language. A concept piece, it comprises a completely chaotic song, followed by a more mellow, yet still dark sounding passage. Day and night. Sun and moon…

Mauta Tala” may only be three cuts but only stretches out to twenty five minutes of music and so is by no means an afterthought or a stop gap of any kind and is instead something that approaches the Avant-Garde without fear of violent retribution. Rooted in Death Metal, the onslaught of “Arcane Rites – Tohu wa Bohu” showcases Baxter’s skills in all areas of musicianship with a powerhouse performance from behind the kit that gives Sepultura drummer Eloy Casagrande a run for his money while also having all the eclectic ideas of a Devin Townsend song. The helter skelter riffs are the essence of controlled chaos while ethnic, tribal and industrial moments surface at opportune fleeting moments as the frenetic pace continues an unrelenting storm. Brave and bold in its approach, the cut also encompasses and embraces melody with its darkly swirling almost Pink Floyd inspired meandering final moments. Thus it can be considered a magnum opus of a cut, the complete package, after a which a palate cleansing moment is required in “Necropoleis of the Nebulous Deserts“. Tribal chants and distant voices are heard with dark whispers and windchimes before a science fiction like moment of synth ushers in “It Looms” with the style of something created by Stanley Kubrick. Death Metal vocals against a Progressive Metal soundscape give this one dark light and it approaches Gothic Horror vibes with music that shifts and sways gently on the breeze, the sinister undertone never quite leaving. Baxter’s storytelling abilities shine through lyrically as if he’s written something to feature on the score of a remake of “The Shining” with a crawling mid section allowing for synths to add an ethereal touch. Three distinctly different ideas, they hold together surprisingly well and bode well for future offerings with seemingly no end to the creativity that Baxter is able to demonstrate [7.5/10]

Track Listing

  1. Arcane Rites – Tohu wa Bohu
  2. Necropoleis of the Nebulous Deserts
  3. It Looms

Mauta Tala” by Sarpa is out 17th February 2023 and is available for pre-order over at bandcamp

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