That’s Lucifer on the front cover, chomping on betrayers Judas, Brutus and Cassius. The cover is based on a painting from the Divine Comedy, and this is combined with drawings by Hieronymus Bosch, with the artwork inside representing the seven deadly sins. Sado Sathanas are a black metal band from Germany, and said imagery had me expecting a thick atmosphere of diabolism and alchemy, but to these ears ‘Nomos Hamartia’ has far more in common aesthetically with the windswept, pagan side of BM. Their sound is melodic and polished, frequently epic and full of grand, sweeping riffs that bring to mind some dramatic natural landscape more than anything overtly satanic.
Opener ‘Nomos Hamartia’ sets the scene with its cascading melodies, building riffs, and gentle, pastoral passages of clean, folky guitar and warm keys. There is perhaps a hint of Hellenic influence creeping in in places, particularly on ‘Martyrium’, with its blazing leads that push forward with a rousing momentum, spilling over into Rotting Christ territory before knuckling down into surging half-time grooves, the track book-ended with dissonant, doomy passages that remind of Forgotten Tomb.
The main influence that comes to mind throughout however is Wodensthrone, with the songs a mix of dynamic and euphoric melody and brooding, earthy melancholy. ‘Ante Bellum’, the most subdued track on the album, is full of languid riffs and dreamy synths in the vein of old Drudkh, undulating gently amongst soft, folky sections, whilst ‘Invertum’ takes a more chaotic and aggressive approach, with racing tremolos and clattering drums bleeding out into grandiose, drawn-out plateaus. ‘P.A.N. Demonia’, shares this same rolling, epic feel, its thundering BM passages sharing space with sorrowful, dragging riffs -Drudkh again-, the song alternately climbing and tumbling before reaching its end with some low, Nordic-sounding chants.
‘Nomos Hamartia’ is a solid album with plenty of great moments, though it failed to set me on fire, perhaps because I’ve heard it done better elsewhere. It’s a little lacking in individual character, and the compositions aren’t particularly adventurous given its aspirations to such an epic and dramatic style. There’s a definite energy at work, with a good balance between fierce battery and lofty reflection, but whilst the songs progress in a satisfyingly natural way there are no unexpected turns in the road. It’s evocative and enjoyable all the same though, setting the spirit wandering despite its limitations.
(7.5/10 Erich Zann)