Hailing from Slovakia, a country I know to be perfect for a goth band, Sharzall, despite what they claim, isn’t a goth band in the usual sense, not really. They’re more in the vein of Lord of the Lost and Gothminister than the likes of Lacrimas Profundere. Instead of pervading sadness and an oh-so-woe-is-so-fucking-me, you have a more substantial moodiness involved. Comparisons can be made. The sharper edges of Seraphim Shock and Sentenced come through, there is a clear black metal influence, there is also an emphasis on keyboard-driven moods than funereal riffs.
That’s just Sharzall in a nutshell: this is not the kid that mopes in a corner and cries mascara tears while writing sad songs, this is more the kid who sulks and broods in public, and writes dark poems.
Sharzall’s style can perhaps best be described as gothic metal with clear deathrock, symphonic, slight darkwave and black metal influences built in. This means solid riffs, cool solos, a very clear bass, very enjoyable and dynamic drumming, and throaty, harsh vocals bordering on metal shrieks. Drummer D. (no name whatsoever given) puts out an especially stand-out performance, punctuating start-stop riffs that the band employ in some songs, other times following the groove but always playing with good feel. Liviticus’ riffing is tasteful, and while more heavy metal-like at times, they’re good and get the blood pumping, with help from Nyg’s bass and the moody keyboard support of Shiny.
The band’s weak link, unfortunately, is Rony Rage. His voice is often too harsh for the songs’ good and his lyrics are only halfway understandable due to his delivery. Overall, his style goes from a Gothminister-like delivery to broderline harsh screams, on the cusp but not quite there, and there are times when they are not a good match for the songs. One such instance is Crisis. With some solid guitar-and-keyboard interplay, a solid drumming section and a head-bobbing hook, it brings the imagery and the mood, and Rony Rage steamrolls over it all with his abrasive delivery. Which would still be fine, but the very next song, Way to Die has him use the kind of vocals that would’ve elevated Crisis to a higher level. Plus, that he can actually sing is also showcased in the power-ballad-like Love is On the Ground. Speaking of, Love is On the Ground is one of those upbeat-but-downfilled, Sentenced-like mood-duality numbers, reminiscent of songs like Broken.
As you might have sensed, all does not end well. Black Sun is a mixed bag and it makes the critical mistake of outstaying its welcome in the worst way possible. Things move along nicely for the most part, with the audible stumble of Frontline, which is just a mercifully short filler track. There are some nice surprises abound. With an album that starts with pure-blood metal double-act of Hell Quit and Piker Man to move to gothier territories, pull out a nice softer song in between, and keep things dynamic, you expect good things. However, the album reaches its peak point with the 8th track, Death March. Despite Rony Rage doing what he did to Crisis, what comes out is a damn good song. With keyboards bringing that darkwave-esque, satin-sheet sadness mood, backed by thundering guitars and an atmosphere that can cut hearts in two, this one is a winner.
That is where Black Sun sinks because it experiences a complete break in continuity.
With three tracks left on the album, Sharzall aim to displease. The next two songs have nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of the album. They aren’t terrible songs, they just have no place on this album, mood-wise or otherwise. Not everyone gets to have a Dog Day Sunrise moment, and Sharzall don’t get there either. The closer, Frozen Touch, could have helped with this, given that it does connect with the rest of the album, but at just over six minutes, it is bland, boring and badly produced. Rony Rage’s vocals get grating not too long in, and despite D.’s best efforts in trying to raise some pulses, the song dies a quick and painful death, taking with it the last album’s integrity, structural or otherwise. You don’t want more when it ends, you wonder where things went so wrong after starting off so right.
It’s a damn shame that I ended up wishing the album had found its end with the excellent Death March. If kept at 8 tracks, it’s the bag of tricks you know and love, and so you will like it. As a whole, it’s less than satisfactory because of how it completely falls apart at the tail end. But still, it’s well worth a listen and who knows, maybe you’ll dig how it goes off the deep end and want more of that, instead. Me, I’ll pretend the album is shorter than it is.
Rony Rage – vocals
Liviticus – guitar
Nyg – Bass
Shiny – Keyboards
D. – Drums
02. Hell Quit
03. Piker Man
05. Way to Die
07. Love is On the Ground
08. Death March
09. Black Sun
10. New Day
11. Frozen Touch