01. The Shepherd’s Staff
02. Imperfect Contrition
04. The Scales of Justice
06. Forfeit I – The Crooked Quill
07. Forfeit II – Worn Thin
08. The Tree of New Life
11. In Tongues
Dark Sermon are a Floridian modern death metal band. Taking inspiration from the likes of The Black Dahlia Murder, later Job For a Cowboy and Behemoth at times, they have a sound that is aggressive and melodic. Those bands are all highly regarded within their own communities, but their brand of metal is done by so many other bands that it can be tiring at times, and finding a good band among those can be quite difficult. Dark Sermon’s debut effort In Tongues is their try at this sort of sound, and it succeeds in some ways, but it also falls into some trappings of the genre.
Let’s first talk about the sound. The band’s modus operandi consists of chunky and often melodic death metal riffs, tremolo picking, blast beats and all that stuff you would expect from a band citing the above influences. The riffing itself is quite good, striking a good balance between a grim sound and melody. The album is dominated by endless headbang-inducing moments and memorable sections. It’s nothing The Black Dahlia Murder or Job For a Cowboy haven’t done before, but fans of those bands would find Dark Sermon to be very enjoyable. It’s not that In Tongues is supremely derivative, it’s just that this kind of sound is so prevalent within the genre that one can’t fault Dark Sermon for going in that direction. And to be fair, they constantly keep it interesting and throw in new riffs instead of letting the same old sections drag out forever, which is very welcome indeed.
The production on the album is top notch, with the guitars sounding very crunchy, clear and satisfying, to the point that future bands in the genre could use this album as a measuring stick. The drums are tight and sit well in the mix too, together with the guitars they make the sound extremely satisfying and pleasant to listen to. The vocals are pretty monotone, sounding like a mixture of Sylosis, The Acacia Strain and JFAC, but they never get boring because they always come in at the right spot and accentuate the riffs. It’s interesting how Dark Sermon take all these extremely played out elements and make them sound great.
Overall, In Tongues is a solid album that fans of modern death metal would love. Dark Sermon take a very tired sound and execute it with finesse and make it fresh again. This album won’t blow anyone’s mind, but it will make you headbang like crazy. And there’s nothing wrong with that.