Album Review: Sporae Autem Yuggoth - However It Still Moves
Reviewed by Sam Jones
With a name like Sporae Autem Yuggoth, you can bet the band aren’t going to be some traditional act. Hailing from Santiago, Chile (as many bands have been of late), Sporae Autem Yuggoth, abbreviated as S.A.Y for the remainder of this piece, are a death/doom band who formed in 2019 and, a year later, released their first Demo, The Plague Of The Aeons. The band were potentially impacted by the Coronavirus Pandemic as nothing else followed suit afterwards, however we shall finally see the next chapter in the band’s career as S.A.Y prepare to release However It Still Moves, their first full length record. I’m a sucker for anything extreme metal and Lovecraftian put together so this album was a no brained for me. Once I had it, I couldn’t wait to see what would lie inside.
In excellent doom fashion, S.A.Y open their record with chimes, a foreboding atmosphere and a slow, gradual pace that weaves excellently into the first riffs of the album. What did surprise me however, in spite of the band’s death/doom aesthetic, was how clean and presentable the guitar work feels here. Often, when a band are looking to instil that sense of dread, they massively downtune their guitars or implement a fuzz throughout the mix to further that oncoming nightmare. This band doesn’t do that, instead opting for something more straightforward yet, in some macabre way, the band’s insistence on clarity and a tone that can’t be missed only amplifies the band’s cosmic horror. Much like their Lovecraftian influences, the band’s atmosphere cannot be ignored since it’s evidently thrust in our faces and with a polished surface too. There’s no superficial fuzz or background element marring our interpretation of their songwriting, there’s only ourselves and the music the band herein provide. The band may not play too greatly into the atmospheric side of things, but since they’ve chosen to strip that all away it actually glues our attention all the more to what they’re doing because, suddenly, everything feels deliberate and meaningful to the songwriting.
While the guitar work may not be typically downtuned for this performance, they possess a quality I haven’t encountered often in death/doom: Scale. Experiencing these riffs is akin to diving headfirst into a Lovecraftian story; not to experience the vast mythos of the Great Old Ones, rather it’s to stand amidst the ruins of cities older than Mankind and feel incomparably insignificant to the cyclopean surroundings. The riffs may not have the great weight other works of death/doom harbour yet, there’s absolutely no denying the sheer size their resonance depicts as they bellow with mountainous scope through the respective song you’ve listening to. The riffs will of course alter and evolve throughout their performance, especially considering the lengths these tracks may run to, but the grandiose scale the emitting resonance of their chords summon is absolutely total. In a way, this is the band’s atmospheric element, forgoing typical death/doom aesthetic in favour of a more crushing guitar attack albeit with the fat, sensory annihilation removed. That isn’t easy to do and S.A.Y deserve commendation for not going down the typically tried and true path. Just because you could implement those safe avenues for atmosphere, doesn’t mean you always need to.
I, for one, really appreciate the band’s approach to track structure. They could have easily thrown one track after another for devastating death/doom and called it a day, yet unleashing a consistent slew of ten-minute long tracks from start to finish is bound to tire and wane on many people’s attention spans. It’s why their choice to intersperse their record with shorter tracks following a lengthy piece, is such a welcome element to the album’s duration. Knowing the record just skims past the hour mark, it ultimately relieves of us of what would have been additional trepidation launching into an album this extensive. However, while the band will space out their record with these shorter pieces, it doesn’t mean they suddenly drop the quality of their songwriting to accommodate these palette cleanser into their record. The shorter tracks are just as powerful and immersive as any of their longer works; they aren’t implemented merely as breathers before they get us back on track with what they deem as the real meat of their record. Every song is intrinsic and necessary to the S.A.Y experience.
Amongst my favourite parts of this record are the drums, mainly due to how stripped back they’ve been rendered within the mix. The band will hurl these massive swathes of riffs, bellowing vocals and a terrifying atmosphere your way, but their drumming is so straightforward it’s borderline out of place with the rest of the record. Yet, it’s precisely because of this difference that the drums engage us so effortlessly; there are no blast beats, no excessive drum fills, nothing to suggest they’re actively trying to pull you into their influence. But, because the drums choose not to place any significance on their own performance, it’s the exact reason why they can’t help but stand out to us. Within the band’s chemistry, the drums are the underlaying element that allow the rest of the band to play atop them; had the drums opted for a more attention-grabbing approach, I believe their performance would ultimately be diminished and their impact lessened. Having their sound be also more acoustic worked wonders too; they’re never in conflict with the riffs and so the songwriting never feels like it’s having to do battle for your attention. It’s satisfying to recognise the dull strike of the Tom-Tom drum as cacophonous riffs tear up your immediate surroundings.
In conclusion, with such a vast album unfurling long tracks and a death/doom performance that’s simply sublime, it’s quite poetic how this album closes out with a serene acoustic instrumental whilst waves gently lap against a coastline. Cosmic Horror has always had an appeal towards the sea, the deep mysteries of the ocean, and that feels no different than this record closer. On the whole, S.A.Y’s first full length record is a triumph of you ask me; excellently structured and mixed together and utilising instrumentation that only bolsters their death/doom songwriting into an encompassing manner, rather than suffocating. This was a wonderful death/doom album and Sporae Autem Yuggoth deserve all the spotlight they can garner right now. It’s not bad going for a Chilean band who otherwise have only released one prior Demo together. Powerful, yet not taxing. Epic in scope, yet grounded and forever keeping us in mind. This is one superb record.