Sabre, Sabre: Teeth Get Gnashed

Posted in Reviews on December 31st, 2010 by JJ Koczan

They lock in a number of modern doomly aesthetics on their self-titled, Pact Ink Records debut, but Cincinnati, Ohio, newcomers Sabre keep a mostly consistent feel in their songs. The 33-minute, seven-track outing, Sabre, plants its feet atop a rawer form of post-metal – i.e., no drones or electronic flourishes – while also reaching for some of the faster riffing/blasting style that many of the newer atmospheric doom outfits have taken on, not forgetting to throw a little YOB-style crunch into the mix. Their shorter songs — a track like “Josiah,” for example — give a glimpse at what post-hardcore might have been had it been invented by riff-worshipers, and they balance their attack with liberal tempo changes. It’s not as radical as going from funeral doom to grindcore, but the switches show some versatility on the part of the Midwestern trio, who self-released two demos prior to hooking up with Pact Ink for this album.

The songs are mostly instrumental, though when vocals come up, it’s guitarist Brian Ross handling them. Sabre starts with the lull-you-into-security groove of “Astral Convergence” before switching immediately into the blasting noise beginning movement of “Unearthly Body,” which at 2:25 is the shortest track Sabre have on offer, and a telegraphed example of the aforementioned tempo switches. Listening to the album for the first time, you can almost hear the change coming, Ross and bassist Neal Hunter tapping some of the same tonal heft as Torche, but going someplace entirely dirtier with it while drummer Chase Schleyer keeps pace with tapping snare hits behind. What “Unearthly Body” has going for it is that it’s devoid of any excess. Even when the song hits its wall and slows to a rumbling crawl, you still feel like you’re moving with maximum intensity. “Condescension” hits an apex that reminds of Akimbo’s excellent Jersey Shores offering, leading into the drearier centerpiece “Black Water.” Schleyer switches to his toms for an intro, adding punch to Hunter’s low end, while Ross lets notes ring out just long enough for the song to keep an oceanic undulation before the blast-beats start and give way in turn to nod-worthy guitar triplets à la YOB’s “The Mental Tyrant.” No complaints there, though they don’t last long before squibbly leads take hold and drive toward two or three more changes before Sabre are done with the track.

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