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Review: Sarcofagus - Envoy of Death
Envoy of Death

Label: Poptori Oy
Year released: 2007
Originally released in: 1980
Duration: 37:10
Tracks: 10
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 3.75/5

Review online: August 21, 2019
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
Readers Rating
Envoy of Death

Rated 4/5 (80%) (11 Votes)

Released the same year as their debut, Sarcofagus' Envoy of Death sees the band going from frantically throwing genres at the wall in an attempt to create Metal from scratch to discovering what the genre's conventions actually were and trying to build their music around them. It's sort of a concept album where the first track introduces the titular character as he comes to judge the lives of six men and send them to their respective afterlives, with each track serving as one of their stories.

This is a much more refined album than Cycle of Life, with less chaotic songwriting and a production job that gives much more clarity to the proceedings, and I just don't like it as much. Make no mistake, the band still makes Metal out of a strange mishmash of rock genres led by Kimmo Kuusniemi's sharp, inventive guitar work, but the riffs are bouncier, the new singer is a bit gruffer, and it all leans in more on the rock side of things than before, leading to a sound that is still pretty odd, but in a more conventional way than the debut.

This makes it sound like I don't like it, but that's not really the case. The opening title track has some good riffs and eerie keyboards, "The Deadly Game" is a solid tune, and "Insane Rebels" proves these guys can rock pretty hard when they want to. The rest of the album is made up of tracks with good riffs and strange ideas that just don't hold together as songs like they did before, with 9-minute album closer "Black Contract" being the worst offender. It starts out like a long lost Mercyful Fate demo that fucking rules, but it quickly descends into death march riffing, muttered vocals, and weird sound effects. This would have been fine for a minute or two, but it's basically the rest of the song before ending on some unintelligible conversation, and it closes the album on a frustrating note.

The move to a more conventional rock sound would be complete on Kimmo's solo album a couple of years later, leaving this as an interesting but awkward transition album from Finland's first Metal band. It's less inventive and compelling than their debut, and sometimes it's downright irritating, but if you're looking for a sound so old school that it defies proper classification, than Envoy of Death is worth getting.

Other related information on the site
Review: Cycle of Life (reviewed by Mjölnir)
Review: Envoy of Death (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
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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