Sacrilegium- “Wicher” (Reissue)

Sacrilegium- Wicher

Rarely does Black Metal & Brews take the time to revisit the music of the past. Since I’m only one person, I’m barely able to keep up with the flow of good new releases as it is. However, today marks the vinyl re-release date of Sacrilegium‘s Wicher, an unsung gem I’d have never found were it not for Pagan Records‘ decision to offer up a reissue. Poland’s black metal community has a long-standing tradition of raw, challenging music that is celebrated by fans of the genre but often overlooked by the mass media in favor of easy glances towards Scandinavian acts. With larger bands like Behemoth becoming more of a blackened death metal act and Graveland becoming notorious for political controversy and wardrobe selection, it’s easy to see how acts like Sacrilegium may not have received their dues.

While many modern acts have clearly taken cues from albums like Wicher, it’s safe to say that upon its initial release in 1996 there were far fewer bands creating such majestic and compelling pagan black metal. With otherworldly yet relatively high pitched vocals, blazing guitars, and occasional melodies driven by soaring keys, Sacrilegium creates an atmosphere that is both ferocious and ethereal. While there are moments of subtlety and even semi-acoustic elements at times, Sacrilegium maintains an intriguing sensibility and an entirely masterful command of atmosphere. As I’m quite the sucker for a well-executed synth line to hold down a song’s melodic lead, Wicher is an absolute treasure.

In current times, it’s easy to see how many bands have borrowed elements of this sound and taken them onward to new territories, but it’s even more apparent that Wicher sounds every bit as current as any modern acts’ work. Does this mean black metal hasn’t grown much? To some degree this is a given. For all its creative and explosive energy, in many ways black metal as a whole leans towards a sort of musical conservatism. I’ll argue, however, that this currency of sound is also a clear sign of the potency of Sacrilegium’s songwriting. Not a moment is wasted, not a single track feels like filler despite the long run-time of this album, especially with the inclusion of bonus track “Tam Gdzie Gaśnie Dzień,” which was culled from Jesienne Szepty, a split with North which was also released in 1996. This extra track does come across slightly rawer, but it’s a welcome addition to round out the D-side of the second LP here and helps those of us who missed these albums the first time around to catch up more quickly.

Sacrilegium 2xLP

Need this underappreciated classic in your life? Order through Sacrilegium’s bandcamp or the Pagan Records store and snag it on jewelcase or digipack CD or 2xLP and get a little piece of black metal history in your life. The packaging isn’t over the top, but the art is beautiful and the album is solid from start to finish. What more do you really need?