Sigils delivers their debut, You Built the Altar, You Lit the Leaves, amidst a swirl of psychedelic trudge wrought from Tom Colello’s guitar playing and the often soaring vocals of Salvatore Rex. On the first track, “Samhain”, we are greeted with a lumbering riff that rarely deviates over the song’s nine minutes. However, there is a nice arpeggio riff that creeps in around the six minute mark that hint at other layers that could have been added to make the track even more compelling. As it stands, it’s a well put together intro to the band.
“Ritual” is the second track here and it offers up a little more of the spotlight to bassist, Adam Hunter, who provides much of the backbone to this crashing, thunderous affair. Rex’s vocals in an increasingly mournful form as well. However, one of the stranger things here is that this winds up being the shortest track on the EP with a minute plus of droning feedback as the tail to the song. This is one where I found myself wishing they had explored a little more of what happens over the existing course of the track.
“Faceless” is by far the best track on the album with its plucked motif that resurfaces throughout the track. Colello comes up with a great hook while Rex delivers what might be his best performance as well. The drumming by Mark Costa is just loose enough to create a nice, comfortable pocket, though, I do wish he were slightly more forceful but that might be a product of the production as well. Regardless, this track is the one most likely to have listeners returning time and time again to this album.
A lot of hay has been made about how this record serves as an outlet for Rex’s haunting lyrics that recall the oppression and persecution of witches here which serves as an analog for his own felt experiences of the metal scene as a queer person. It’s important that we amplify these voices in a world where they are often not included. The “otherness” that gets placed upon people from marginalized communities when they become involved in the metal and hardcore world absolutely should become a thing of the past so in that regard, Rex’s presence here and the existence of this album, serves as a welcome addition to the scene. Hopefully, this helps to push our community in a more positive and inclusive direction. No one should ever be marginalized particularly amongst the groups of weirdos and freaks that make up the wonderful fabric of this musical underground.
“The Wicked, The Cloaked” concludes this admirable effort operating in the space of a loud-quiet-loud build and release. In its own comforting way it feels like a track built around a slow shamble meandering through an examination of melancholy. The nice shift at about the 7:30 mark is highlight of the track as we see the band descending into an ever increasing Pallbearer-esque trance. The backing vocals also lend a lot to the cacophony as the song reaches its crest before dropping us back to the sparse, thematic riff that starts the whole thing off.
Overall, this is a promising debut and if you’re any fan whatsoever of psychedelic-tinged doom then this will definitely be up your alley. It will be interesting to see what the band does to follow this.
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You Built the Altar, You Lit the Leaves is out March 22nd, and is available for pre-order on the band’s Bandcamp page.