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Album Review: Sermon - Of Golden Verse

Review by Claire Williams

Sermon is a new band for me but Holy Prog Metal this slaps!

Instantly I get vibes of Wheel, Katatonia, Riverside, Coma,and Porcupine Tree.

I feel that fans of Tool and Opeth will also love this creative genius. I am a huge Prog fan after delving a little into this genre myself with my old band, and I think that Sermon truly fits the MO.

The passion, rhythm, timing, lyrics and vocals and the message behind them, fill my head and really get me thinking and tapping into emotions I haven't felt in a while, as well as somehow managing to hit the brain's pleasure centre.

I love nothing more than discovering new bands, Sermon is a true gem. Their debut album ‘Birth of the Marvellous’ was released back in 2019, led by a mysterious masked figurehead known only as ‘Him’, breaking into the Progressive Metal Scene bringing music that is both dark and emotionally demanding. The fact that Him remains anonymous really adds an element of mystery and intrigue. It had me trying to work out who Him was and wanting to know more. I spent hours scrolling the internet trying to find some clue to Him’s identity. But alas he is the master of anonymity.

I love it!

Usually I would go into great detail about the artist, who they are and what past projects they have done, with ‘Him’ there is nothing and I think that's brilliant. What a USP.

After Sermon released Their first album, they played one live show at Prog In The Park in Poland and then vanished. Until now!

“Summoned from their slumber” Him and his collaborators return, bringing with them a new Album ‘Of Golden Verse’ . It is dark, intense and heavy whilst at the same time there is a somewhat calming element to the album. I could quite easily have this on my relax and recharge playlist. Him has collaborated with James Stewart on drums to add to the anger they want to portray throughout, moving away from the “Grief and insubordination” of the first album as described by ‘Him’.

James is the former drummer for Divine Chaos and Polish Death metal band Vader. James has also played drums on a number of tracks for Berzerker Legion, Bloodshot Dawn and Decapitated. I can see why Him would bring James on board. He really adds a depth to each track that synthetic drums just couldn't do.

Of Golden Verse looks outward and recoils back in horror at mankind's twisted morality.”

First track on the Album ‘The Great Marsh’ sets the melancholy tone of the album. You get the feeling of disgust for the state of the world, the pain that resonates not only from the vocals delivered by Him but from the heavy war like drums and orchestral backing. This quickly leads into Royal, which, when listening it, flows like one track which I love.

When you really listen to the album you can truly feel the emotion and passion in each track and the sense that Him does not like what mankind has become is shown in each song.

Light the Witch is up next. The dark energy from this track is unreal. The singular tone that vibrates behind the track for the start of the song gives it a doom-like feel. Him is giving Devin Townsend echoes at one point in this track, really pushing out those powerful vocals. I kind of get a bit of a ritualistic Voodoo feel, with the vocals and drums. The one thing that comes to me as I listen is that it makes me feel so many different things all at once, Anger, calm,joy,passion, it's a cacophony of feelings.

This is why I love Progressive metal.

In Black has synths on this track that gives images of sirens and flashing lights, like in a war. This flows beautifully into the next track ‘The Distance’ It’s really clever as you listen to the lyrics and Him drops in lines like ‘Hiding, Hiding, Red River Beneath’ that seems to solidify this vision of war and destruction and the magnitude of this is covered up and hidden by the world's denial. I can see how it all ties in. I'm not sure if this is intentional with this track, but it is certainly the vision it induces.

‘Senescence’ begins with a calming lul, beautiful symphonics that seem to slowly build. Enter Him with smooth tone vocals. I would swear I was listening to Mariusz Duda (Riverside). ("Tell me, is it you??") To me this is a lullaby of woe sung to the unborn children of the world. Devastatingly beautiful and deep, leading us into Wake The Silent’. A title that needs explanation.

We are woken from the calm with a heavier more powerful track, thrashing guitar with powerful and at times demonic vocals. This really shows the vocal skill of Him. The Sins of Man-kind have come to light and we have woken up to the damage and destruction all around us. It's dark yet poetic. “The Words of sympathy as they stare so sweetly, As one falls they all will follow.” Harrowing words depicting society in lemming form.

‘Golden’ precedes the album release as the first of 3 singles released this year. I listened to this before I got the Album; I can't quite explain how I feel when I listen to this, It's like I know what Him is putting across but I can't put it into words. It's powerful stuff. So here is a quote from Him as I think They put so eloquently:

"'Golden' is what I want Sermon to be," he notes. "It’s got the intricate, indulgent prog thing going on, it's got a big old chorus and the structure is a bit weird. It keeps going up and up and up. It's not just verse and chorus. It just keeps climbing. It's all about the idea of people weighing each other down to get them to think the way they're thinking. It's like conversion - you're constantly weighed down by other people and in the end you give up, and you say, 'Okay, I agree with you...' just to end it. That constant weighing down is an abuse of power. So with 'Golden', the idea is that you're just raining down gold on this person until they're completely cast in it."

I could not have put that better myself.

Next track ‘Centre’ is it’s giving energy, it’s giving anger and blends like a dream into the final track ‘Departure.’ “Raise the hand in defiance” a big ‘stick it to the man’ statement. “Praise the departed” they escaped the ruin. “The Hive is burning” the hive being the world. This is a really hard hitting conclusion to a gripping and eye opening album.

Sermon have really come back with a bang. Him has said they would like to do one epic one-off show, I really hope they do more. This does deserve to be seen live as the message should be heard.

I have described the meaning to each song based on my interpretation. I would love to hear how others interpret their meaning and how close I am to the artist's intention. I am now a fan and I will absolutely be listening to Sermon more often.

Once a live show is confirmed, get me on that ticket list, I’m there. This will be epic live.

Go check out Sermon and their new album ‘Of Golden Verse’.

If you love Progressive metal with a message, you’ll love this.

Watch out for Sheri's interview with Him of Sermon soon to follow...

Watch 'Departure' here:

Photos by Jack Snell.


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