Album Review – Sarcoptes / Prayers to Oblivion (2023)

Immerse your soul into an interconnected series of historical tragedies brilliantly expressed by one of the best Black Metal duos of the current scene in their newborn masterpiece.

After giving us a taste of what’s to come with their stunning 2020 EP in Plague Hymns, Sacramento, California-based Black Metal duo Sarcoptes (whose name is a genus of mites, by the way) brings us their highly awaited sophomore full-length opus Prayers to Oblivion, their strongest album since their inception in 2008, bringing forward everything they’ve promised and more. Displaying a dark, wicked artwork by Adam Burke of Nightjar Illustration, the album presents an immaculate blend of Black and Thrash Metal laced with atmospheric bits for further emphasis as both near 15-minute epic songs and shorter ones carefully brought into being by Garrett Garvey on vocals and drums, and Sean Zimmerman on the guitars, bass and keyboards, with the help of Bobby Koelble (Death, Azrael, Expedition Delta, Leviathan Project) as a guest lead guitarist. Each of the songs follows an interconnected series of historical tragedies in chronological order brilliantly thought and expressed by the duo, from the events of World War I to the Vietnam War, offering fans of Emperor, Immortal and early Satyricon, among several others, an intense, balanced and absorbing album that keeps the listener riveted due to the constantly changing patterns and structures.

As the rain falls down, Garrett and Sean initiate their sonic attack blasting their instruments mercilessly in Trenches, with Garrett roaring the song’s dark lyrics in great fashion (“Dig the trenches / Dig your own graves / A vile panorama / Of human misery / A series of follies / Spurred on by greed”) in a 14-minute lecture in grim and furious Black Metal. In Spanish Flu, more of their Stygian lyrics are offered to us all (“Choking, gasping, blackish blue / Clamor, the church bells ring / Miasmic horror, Spanish flu / Fly with death’s black wings”) while Sean extracts pure evil and hatred from his guitar and phantasmagorical keys, morphing into the 13-minute beast titled Dead Silence, where the blast beats by Garrett walk hand in hand with the epic keys by Sean, also presenting the duo’s trademark riffage and venomous guttural roars. It’s definitely another must-listen creation for admirers of both old school and modern-day Black Metal, and it’s impressive how the duo can craft songs that last for four, five or fifteen minutes and sound amazing in all cases, which is exactly what’s offered to us in Tet, exhaling violence thanks to the amazing job done by Garrett on drums, who also growls like a demon supported by Sean’s sulfurous riffs. Finally, how about another multi-layered, somber and majestic 14-minute aria to close the album on a fiery note? That’s what we’ll all get in Massacre at My Lai, with Garrett vociferating rabidly while Sean kicks ass once again armed with his stringed weapons and eerie keys, flowing majestically until the song’s climatic and atmospheric finale.

In a nutshell, Prayers to Oblivion is dark, sinister, evil and majestic, offering us all everything we love in Black Metal and more, and if you want to put your hands on such precious gem of extreme music you can buy the album from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Transcending Obscurity Records’ webstore by clicking HERE or HERE, from Apple Music, or from Amazon. In addition, don’t forget to also follow such talented American duo on Facebook and on Instagram for all things Sarcoptes, and to stream all of their wicked creations on Spotify. As mentioned, Prayers to Oblivion is undoubtedly Sarcopte’s most powerful and impactful work to date, flawlessly turning different tragedies in the history of mankind into first-class Black Metal, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for such brilliant duo.

Best moments of the album: Trenches and Dead Silence.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2023 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Trenches 13:56
2. Spanish Flu 4:21
3. Dead Silence 13:01
4. Tet 5:07
5. Massacre at My Lai 14:15

Band members
Garrett Garvey – vocals, drums
Sean Zimmerman – guitars, bass, keyboards

Guest musician
Bobby Koelble – lead guitars


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