Review: Sarabante

Sarabante Remnants Southern Lord

I’ve been trading notes lately with an old friend of mine from college. This fellow, much brighter than myself, is part of the brains trust behind Souciant Magazine. We were discussing the Greek hardcore band Sarabante. Souciant had just run a piece about them , and I was mentioning to him that we had been meaning to review their CD, but that we kind of felt that we had done so much about Southern Lord releases already that it would kind of look like we were their media wing.

And then of course, there was the fact just mentioned that Souciant had just run a piece about them. That pretty much had me set on the idea that we should leave it alone. Then a couple of things occurred to me. As is their wont, Souciant’s article on Sarabante was, in fact, about the broader political situation in Greece right now. A review from us, which is bound to be more focused on purely stylistic aspects, probably isn’t going to cover all that much of the same territory. Perhaps more importantly, it struck us that it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to give those guys a little added publicity, to the extent getting a link in one of our articles would do that.

Ok, so long story short, here are a few words about Sarabante.

A few months ago, I perusing Southern Lord’s website when I saw a listing for the latest CD by the Greek hardcore band Sarabante. One line caught my eye: “The band was brought to the attention of Southern Lord by Brad Boatright of From Ashes Rise.” Well, that is a pretty sold recommendation from my perspective. From Ashes Rise were, for many years, the leading figures in the melding of the European d-beat style with a more melodic approach. While one could hear this in European bands like Wolfpack/Wolfbrigade, Disfear, and, somewhat later Martyrdöd (to name only a very prominent few). Perhaps memory fails, but I can’t remember hearing anything very similar to this from North America before running across their Concrete and Steel 12” in the late 1990s. Ok, maybe you could say that His Hero is Gone might be comparable, but you get my point.

Nowadays, this particular style, which is very close to our hearts here in the bunker, is much more readily available in these parts (c.f. our forthcoming review of Cleveland’s oh-so-crushing Masakari). In Europe, and once again I’m speaking very general terms here, there seem a lot more bands doing this, especially in the wake of Martyrdöd’s pathbreaking In Extremis CD in 2005. Martyrdöd really raised the bar. Not only was their approach to d-beat alloyed with a sharp and moving sense of melody, but the structures of their songs were somewhat more complex, adding extra bars onto the normally square d-beat riffs. One can hear echoes of this approach in the work of bands like Münster’s Alpinist, as well as in Sarabante’s melodic d-beat stylings.

Remnants is a crushingly powerful record. It’s no surprise that Brad Boatright dug these guys, as the melodies that shape their songs would not have been out of place on any From Ashes Rise release from Nightmares onward. Similar to Martyrdöd, these young Athenians use riffs that tend to be a little bit longer than the d-beat norm. They are heavily downtuned for sure and this gives their music a metallic heaviness that acts as an effective counterpoint to the melodic overlays that give Sarabante’s music its distinctive feel.

Apparently they have been on a bit of a hiatus and have only recently started gigging again. The vinyl edition of Remnants was really limited and must certainly be sold out now, but the CD version can be had from the Southern Lord website, and it can be directly downloaded from Emusic and similar sites.

Magadh

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