Sound: Odds are you haven't heard Sacrum. They're a relatively new prog metal band from Buenoes Aires, Argentina. This is their debut full length, Cognition and it's not quite what you'd expect.
It's definitely a very familiar progressive/power metal sound, with slickly produced riffs and keyboards and soaring vocals over the top. Instrumentally, the band are very lively and have certainly prepared a solid arsenal of ideas. Some of the riffs are far from original but I find that the drumming of Agustn Sedano Acosta brings them to life and brings them from the realm of dreary into the sort of riff you can tap along to as soon as it kicks in (a prime example of this being The Dream Prisoner.) That's not to say that the band would be weak without this aspect, far from it. Keyboardist Mariano Herraiz plays a perfect role of metal keyboardist: knows what a song really needs from his instrument. There's none of those overly bombastic and cheesy synth solos but there's not a chance of him fading into obscurity beneath the bassy mix. In fact, he provides one of the best moments on the album, the main riff to Sacrvm.
The bass and guitars certainly have some good chemistry and the production and mixing is very clearly brings out the talent and tone of Diego Cipolla whilst Martn Guerrero (also the producer) still has room to dominate a lot of segments. The only concern I have with any of the songwriting or instrumentalists is the fairly suspicious familiarity of some of the melodies and ideas. For example, the introduction to In Memory is almost identical to a section from Dream Theater's 'In The Presence Of Enemies Pt. 2'. However, considering the fact that that song is fairly recent, I could certainly give the band benefit of the doubt in that case. Overall though, the familiarity of the sound is only a negative thing if you listen analytically and don't just sit back and enjoy the music.
The one thing about Sacrum which doesn't really suit my tastes is the vocalist, Estanislao Silveyra. He's certainly a talented singer but his voice doesn't really do it for me, and it seems that a lot of the vocal melodies are rather predictable. However most of this is down to personal taste, so don't let this put you off buying the album. // 8
Lyrics: Most of the lyrics are introspective and fictional, either about extravagant fantasy or exploration of the self. Reading through, I don't find any particularly innovative pieces of writing, but the language used is certainly very atmospheric and suits the sound of the band. Seeing as the band are not native English speakers, the sophistication of the language (for the most part) is impressive, and I'm sure with little pushes in the right direction I could find some good and thought provoking meanings in the words, but all I can see upon first impression is 'epic' sound language which heightens the sense of grandeur around Cognition. // 7
Overall Impression: I think in Sacrum there is a very strong band and a tight unit. However, some inconsistent songwriting (perhaps down to the fact that most of it is down to guitarist Martn Guerrero) bogs down the majority of the album which is an enjoyable listen. Some songs, like the sprawling title track and closing requiem 'No Turning Back' are very well constructed but some deadbeat riffs and vocals hold back songs such as 'Stay' and 'Translation'. I hope to see the band reach their full potential in the future. // 8