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Review: Sarcofagus - Cycle of Life
Cycle of Life

Label: Poptori Oy
Year released: 2006
Originally released in: 1980
Duration: 38:00
Tracks: 10
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 4.25/5

Review online: August 18, 2019
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
Readers Rating
Cycle of Life

Rated 4.3/5 (86%) (10 Votes)

Sarcofagus were the first Metal band to come out of Finland, but they never got a lot of love or recognition for that fact. After hearing the 2006 reissue of their 1980 debut Cycle of Life, kindly provided to me by our own Luxi Lahtinen, I can see why that's the case, as even by the vague definitions of Metal back then this is all pretty left field.

Sarcofagus can't really be categorized by today's standards because they entirely predate them. In fact, you can't even really define them by the standards of their day. They kind of sound like a band that had the basic concept of Metal described to them that went off to go make some before anyone could give them references like Black Sabbath or Judas Priest. The result is a dirty, DIY sound that throws in psychedelia, rockabilly, and even some prog rock, all while still being both identifiably Metal and entirely unlike anything else. Opener "Subconscious Penetrating" is a prime example of what you're going to get from this album: odd, inventive guitar work with an even stranger, almost kazoo-like guitar sound, rough, nasally vocals that would be right at home with a 70s rock band, and energetic, almost chaotic songwriting that's a little more intricate than it initially sounds. Not every song on here is strictly Metal, with the last few tracks being much closer to traditional rock and "Go To Hell/Incarnation/Cycle Closes" being an instrumental mostly comprised of awful keyboard blipping and crying noises, but when they put the pieces together on songs like "Here I Am", "Clairvoyant", and the awesome "Eternal Silence", they create a propulsive, individual sound that might have served as an alternative path for the genre if NWOBHM hadn't gotten there first.

Sarcofagus would release one more album before changing their name and vanishing shortly thereafter, and it seems that they're not very well known even in their own home country. That's something of a tragedy, not only for their historical significance but also due to the quality of this album in particular. This can be really hard to find, but if you're a Metal historian or just a fan of strange, primordial Metal that came before the genre was fully formed, this is more than worth the effort. A lost relic, and a damn good one at that.

Other related information on the site
Review: Envoy of Death (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: Envoy of Death (reviewed by Mjölnir)
Interview with guitarist Kimmo Kuusniemi on April 21, 2019 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
Interview with guitarist Kimmo Kuusniemi on June 11, 2021 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
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