Sparrows Mark of the Beast: Indoctrination

Dallas, TX-based Sparrows, who refer to themselves as "deathened black metal," have created a curious, malevolent chimera with Mark of the Beast: Indoctrination. While combining death and black metal is hardly novel, the way in which Sparrows go about it can be compelling ― while there are moments in which a death metal riff creeps in, where Sparrows have chosen to focus the death metal influence is in the production values. This results in an EP whose songs are unquestionably black metal in their construction, with swelling blast beats, swarming guitars and wound-raw vocals, but with meaty and crisp production. Primitive black metal production is eschewed for something much more precise, giving muscle to the drums and lifting the hottest riffs to the front of the mix, allowing the vocals to sink back or swoop to the foreground for a killing blow as the songs evolves. This is a bold move, as it illuminates some of the weaker points of the album, such as sloppy transitions and a bit of uncertainly in the songwriting. Still, the strength and promise are there. (Independent)