Acrid Plains

San Francisco’s reputation as a hotbed for forward-thinking USBM and post-black metal continues with Saros, featuring Leila Abdul-Rauf of Amber Asylum and Blood Eagle (formerly of Weakling) on drums. Abdul-Rauf’s dual vocal duties (rasped and ethereal) can’t help but bring up citymates Ludicra, and there’s a heavy dose of Agalloch-style neofolk in here as well.

(And actually, to throw one more reference at you, the sound that kept popping into my head during the album’s heavier moments is that of Dissection‘s comeback/swansong, Reinkaos. If you know that album, you’ll recognize the guitar sound and vocals pretty clearly – the resemblance is uncanny. I wasn’t a big fan of Reinkaos, ‘cause I was expecting a more vicious – and long-delayed, for infamous reasons – follow-up to Somberlain and Light’s Bane, but that criticism doesn’t apply to Saros, ‘cause they’re plying a very different sound and style – slow-burning thrash mixed with a psychedelic, contemplative side.)

Acrid Plains kicks things off with its terrific title track, one of the best on the album. Starting with a lovely, haunting intro, it then deftly switches up to a more muscular gallop. You’ll definitely hear the Agalloch right from the get-go, and if you’ve ever wondered what that band would sound like with a little more urgency, then here you go.

The next two tracks, “As the Tyrant Falls Ill” and “Coriolis,” bring in more of Saros‘ introspective elements, largely expressed via the aforementioned clean, dreamy vocals. Both tracks offer a variety of moods, although on the whole, I found the compositions to be meandering and had trouble getting excited about much aside from a few lovely moments. I do have to point out the final acoustic minutes of “Tyrant” though – captivating stuff.

Luckily, the rest of the album more than makes up for that sag, starting with the driving, thrashier attack of “Devouring Conscience.” The next track, “Reversion,” is even better, blending ethereal vocals with organic, buzzy post-black metal that made me think I was listening to Wolves in the Throne Room. Finally, Acrid Plains closes with the epic, 12-minute “The Sky Will End Soon,” which is also an accomplished piece of work that really brings it all home in a way that previous tracks “Tyrants” and “Coriolis” did not.

It’s clear from your first listen that Saros is a band with a very specific vision and a lot of class and talent to pull it off right. Although it’s not an overly aggressive, cathartic experience, there’s a lot here to bring you back for repeat listens. I have a feeling this will be a steady grower for me over the rest of the year. Definitely recommended for fans of Agalloch, Solstafir, WITTR, Ludicra, etc, another strong reason why USBM continues to be a hotspot for the genre, and why Profound Lore continues to be one of its jackpot labels.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
May 5th, 2009


  1. Commented by: Vance

    Damn, this sounds really cool, thanks so much for the heads up and the awesome review.

  2. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    I could not get into this at all. Strange for a Prfound Lore release.

  3. Commented by: gabaghoul

    so that’s why you gave it to me :)

  4. Commented by: Erik Thomas
  5. Commented by: Stiffy

    Damn Erik. You are hard to pin point sometimes.

    I am really liking this post black, shoegaze, whatever it is, thing happening. The fact that it has its intense moments and then breks so progressivly is sucking me in. I like what I heard on Amazon.

  6. Commented by: Stiffy

    In other words, Send me some of this shit, Erik!!

  7. Commented by: gabaghoul

    dude don’t steal my assignments

  8. Commented by: gabaghoul
  9. Commented by: Stiffy

    You better smiley face me dman it!

  10. Commented by: gabaghoul

    i smiley faced your mom

  11. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    I didnt think was too much post black, but a strange thrash post rock goth metal mix that was a bit muddled and directionless

    Altar of Plagues review going up tomorrow- now THATS post black

  12. Commented by: gabaghoul

    go back and check out the last couple tracks again, particularly Reversion

  13. Commented by: Stiffy

    HA HA HA! Ok, labeled under directionless,post-rock/thrash/goth

  14. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    Will do. Granted I only gave it cursory listen, so who knows.

  15. Commented by: Angel Cat

    I just picked this up a few years late. Any way, I like this album a lot. I also picked up Arcturus-La Masquerade Infefrnale, Burzum-Aske, Cephalic Carnage-Exploiting Disfunction, Nasum-Helvete and Jorn-Spirit Black.

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