The Shadow Inside
Nuclear Blast Records
It's been seventeen long years since we heard from Sadus and I'm wondering why it has taken so long for this stunning new release to breach my ears. I just got through listening to this beast of an album and it sounds as vital and fresh like it was 1988 all over again.
When we last heard from Sadus, it was 2006 and Out for Blood was released to mixed reviews. The formula seemed tired and worn down; save for a few descent tracks most didn't retained the classic stalk and slash attitude of their 80's output. I can't say I was entirely into it and maybe at that juncture it was time to put the band to rest.
So, Sadus disappeared for quite some time; that is until 2017 when Darren Travis and Jon Allen came back to revitalize the band once again. Unfortunately this new incarnation is sans bassist Steve DiGiorgio (whose now in Testament), but this hasn't stopped the pair from forging ahead with the planned reunion. It took them a few years, but a brand new single "It's the Sickness" was released in 2022 and boy did it show the band was serious about reclaiming their technical thrash dominance.
Now in late 2023 we finally have the completion of the sixth full length studio recording of all new Sadus material; allowing the band to reclaim the throne. The album is entitled "The Shadow Inside" and it brings a vibrant and engaging technical death/thrash smorgasbord of riffs to pig out on. It didn't take long for my ears to become over bloated with thrash goodness and daresay being drunk on the power of the relentless chug found here.
The opening track "First Blood" starts with a mellow interlude and breaks into a raucous pounding of guitars and drums. The main riff is pure violence and the relentless chug sways you within minutes. Darren's vocals have aged well and he can still maintain the raspy shrieks and let out those screams like he sounded way back on Illusions.
The same pattern of sonic violence applies to the follow-up "Scorched and Burnt". The song pummels you into submission and I'm really digging the vocals mostly on this number. Darren brings a certain amount of nastiness to the party and he never let's up. I can appreciate that level of nastiness because it was sorely lacking on Out for Blood. That ingredient alone makes Sadus the perfect choice among the top tier of death/thrash outfits playing this style of music.
When we get to track three, the chugs and vocal shrieks really take centre stage. "It's the Sickness" pulls out the hammer and really begins slamming down hard on the listener. Jon Allen's drumming is relentless, working in unison with Darren's monstrous sounding guitars. I like the fills and double bass contributions here, along with the mix of groove and intricacy of the guitars, but the lack of bass is a bit of a curiosity to me. The bass is buried deep in the mix and as you know in past releases, Steve's bass work was up front in the sound. I'm not even sure who is playing bass here, but it's a notable complaint; albeit a small one at that.
The next few tracks are all solid numbers; continuing to chomp along to a vicious pace. "Ride the Knife" is delightfully harsh and unrelenting, while "Anarchy" is a short banger that gets straight to the point. Clocking in at just two and a half minutes, it's pretty much a death metal song, led by heaping amounts of double bass drumming. This song is contrasted next to "The Devil in Me" as being the longest song on the album stretching out to just over six and a half minutes. It's a bit plodding for my tastes, but I can dig the quick chugs spurting out in the last few minutes.
The next track "Pain" slows down and starts plodding along again; as you finally notice the formula wearing down a bit. I was worried there for a few seconds, but my faith was restored when the rousing "No Peace" roars to life with a vengeance. Darren spits out the lyrics and wields his axe work like a man possessed and it ends up being a punishing number. After that, we get a song that starts out as an instrumental called "New Beginning" with Sabbath vibes added in, before morphing into a descent little ditty.
The album concludes with the title track "The Shadow Inside" and brings us to a satisfying close. I love the drippings of Darren's shrieks at the start and coupled with the unrelenting sound of the guitars; the chug and overall feel just pummels you. The track is paced at a moderate level, however one might think the last few tracks seem to plod a bit. It's still aggressive as hell, but the tone does go down considerably as we progress to track ten.
Overall, I do feel this is a return to form album for Sadus. There's much to like here for a band that has had a long period of inactivity in between studio releases. Darren's voice has retained much of that raspy sound of old and is still vital sounding all these years later. The riffing is spectacular and continues to strive for a balance of chugging speed and technical intricacy; along with the frenetic drumming style of Jon Allen. I do have a few small gripes when you consider the bass is buried heavily in the mix on most songs. The absence of Steve DiGiorgio hurts the impact a bit, but this shouldn't dissuade you from buying this release.
Best tracks: First Blood, It's the Sickness, Ride the Knife, Anarchy.
I'm giving this a solid 8.5 Skulls out of 10.
Kenneth Gallant, HMS