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Classic Review: Sabbat - History Of A Time To Come
History Of A Time To Come

Label: Noise Records
Year released: 1988
Duration: 46:27
Tracks: 9
Genre: Thrash Metal

Rating: 4/5

Review online: March 25, 2004
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating
History Of A Time To Come

Rated 4.27/5 (85.33%) (30 Votes)

The two mainstay members of Sabbat have gone on to some fame, with vocalist Martin Walkyier forming (and then leaving) Skyclad and guitarist Andy Sneap becoming a producer of note. But this is where it all started, with the first release by British thrashers Sabbat. This is a classic album, and despite flaws that mar it, it remains an essential 80's thrash album.

This is a thrash CD totally removed from the Bay Area sound then predominant in the scene. Andy Sneap (despite an inexplicable addiction to incredibly dry guitar tones) was a much more complex and subtle riff-writer than most thrash axers could dream of, and he filled Sabbat's music with spiraling, endless riffs. The band's sound was never as meaty or chunky as is usually the case with thrash bands, but rather speedy and sharp. Walkyier has a distinctive shriek, actually not too far removed from a black metal sound, with an incredibly evil tone when he wanted it. He used a higher rasp on this album than on the subsequent "Dreamweaver", and I actually like the lower tone better, though it is only occasionally employed on "History…" The production on this album is the only really serious flaw, as it is a very dry and weak recording.

One thing that stood out about Sabbat from the start was their catchy songwriting, and a big part of that was the degree of syncopation Walkyier imbued his vocal lines with, making every chorus one you could never forget. Combined with Sneap's fast and intricate riff-work, it made for an inimitable sound no one has ever duplicated. There are some great songs on here. The "Intro" is kind of a waste, but "A Cautionary Tale" is quintessential Sabbat, and it segues right into "Hosanna in Excelsis" – one of my favorite Sabbat tunes, and one of their most blatantly evil ones. There aren't really any bad tunes here, even the instrumental "A Dead Man's Robe" is cool – and far from an acoustic number, this is a full-throttle Thrash track.

Lyrics were always a highlight of this band, as Martin Walkyier was both eloquent and dedicatedly pagan. And rather than cram lyrics into the vocal space, he wrote lines to fit the rhythms of the music. Though sometimes with Sneap's looping riffs he sounded like he was going to run out of air keeping up. On "The Church Bizarre" he wrote. "And if all the Devil's minions were let loose to do their will/I think they'd be hard-pressed in diabolic skill/The evil and the trickery of this evangelic horde/who shelter their corruption with the banner of their lord". I think a more stinging rebuke of fundamentalism has rarely, if ever, been put to paper.

Sabbat were never a huge band, and they broke up after only three albums. (The last, "Mourning Has Broken", was largely ignored due to Walkyier's absence.) They were not a band that grabbed you right off, but one who rewarded careful listening with a complex and intelligent musical experience. There has never been another band quite like them, and though the subsequent "Dreamweaver" was their crowning achievement, "History Of A Time To Come" still stands as a unique and remarkable album.

Other related information on the site
Review: Dreamweaver (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
Review: Dreamweaver (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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