Review: “Black | Death | Doom” by Saasta

A handful of days after the first anniversary of their debut album “Crucial To None” the return of Kotka Finland based Blackened Death Metal outfit Saasta with an EP titled “Black | Death | Doom” might seem surprising but it seems that while some things change, some things remain the same. For their debut the band were a trio with guitarist Topias Jokipii handling vocal duties however shortly after the albums release they recruited vocalist Leevi Kärsämä who has been playing live with the band since. That decision was said to have been made to allow Jokipii to focus on the guitars with bassist Janne Hietanen and drummer Jimi Lahtinen rounding out the group. Recorded entirely in their rehearsal space with Lahtinen’s drum tracks recorded “in one fell swoop” before mixing and mastering by Ben Jones (Chestcrush, Pest Control, Splitknuckle), the question is, is this a new dawn or merely a continuation?

Aside from the vocalist change it has to be said that the new songs are both significantly faster and more violently aggressive than the ones that appeared on “Crucial To None”. As with a number of recent releases, the band have chosen to elevate the bass guitar in the mix, the greater involvement of the four stringed instrument in the sound effectively meaning it has become more like a rhythm guitar rather than simply holding down the low end. But make no mistake, this new record is still distinctively Saasta even if the beast has evolved to grow another head. Opening cut “Stygian Grey” sets the tone as 77 seconds of foreboding instrumental with a sense of the self titled Chimaira record from 2005 in the guitar tone, building up nicely and allowing Kärsämä to burst forth seconds into title track “Black I Death I Doom“. His dark death growls feel like the consistently low bark of a rabid dog as they cut against the juddering rhythms the band create, Jokipii making use of the change in bass sound in order to play a couple of haunting leads and build the atmosphere. After that mid tempo chugger built for headbanging, the juggernaut changes gear for “Sickness“. Menacing and sinister overtones find Kärsämä sounding like a brooding serial killer plotting with murderous intent while Lahtinen offers up some interesting fills as the pulsating rhythmic bludgeoning continues. Last but by no means least is “Murhattu” (or “Murdered“) which has a bit more groove to, the drop out to a vibrant and yet sinister guitar section in the middle of the track adding a chink of light that pierces through the dark clouds. Something wicked this way comes [7/10]

1. Stygian Grey
2. Black I Death I Doom
3. Sickness
4. Murhattu

Black | Death | Doom” by Saasta is out 5th December 2023 via Inverse Records and maybe available over at bandcamp

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