Sky Burns Black Records certainly has some extreme music bands on their roster and the Riverside, California band Saul of Tarsus fit perfectly well in that mix. Blending metal, punk, and thrash into a fast-moving blast of sound, there will be no question of their fitting in at Sky Burns Black.
Given the dramatic keyboard intro, I was sure I was going to be hearing some sort of black, death, or symphonic metal and then with a single cymbal crash everything changed to almost grindcore before falling silent and letting the keyboards finish the song. Still not sure of where things were going musically, “Massive Deception” kicks off with a fast, thrash like riff and some vocals that remind me of what it might sound like if a black metal vocalist decided to do thrash/punk without changing from a shrieking style. This aspect did remind me a lot of some of the old punk I listened to in my younger days, but the vocals seemed just a bit too controlled, perhaps not quite close enough to the threshold of irreparable vocal chord damage.
In World Flesh Devil” the same general musical style persists, but there is an addition of some deeper growled vocals over the top and a jazzy interlude where one can hear a bass line become prominent. In general, their sound does remind me a bit of bands I’ve heard before, and most of those are likely some punk bands that never saw any real distribution and are largely unknown, but my mind keeps coming back to the vocals and similarities in delivery to Negative Approach and SS Decontrol.
Not a band to shy away from tough topics, everything from pleas for help from God to rants against the ways of the world, to the deliverance of Israel from jihad are covered in the songs on the ep. “The Last Jihad”, complete with sounds of gunfire and bullet casings flying is actually about how God will deliver Israel. Musically, the Black Flag influence in the guitar is what really strikes me as it sounds very much like a Greg Ginn-styled riff. Older punk band influences come out in “Beware of the Lamb” as well with its main, driving riff.
“No Treasure” and “Road to Damascus” to me are the most interesting songs on the ep and showcase the mix of styles the band incorporates throughout the ep. The speed throughout much of “Road to Damascus” is especially cool. Unfortunately, the wide range of styles within a single song combined with the ragged edge screamed vocals just doesn’t seem to work for me. Saul of Damascus is heavy, very fast at times, and incorporates influences across the genres, while maintaining a very rough edge and is worth checking out, even if it doesn’t work for me.
Written by John Jackson
2 Massive Deception
3 World Flesh Devil
4 Critical Condition
5 The Last Jihad
6 Beware Of The Lamb
7 No Treasure
8 Road To Damascus
Tracy Steiger – Vocals
Anthony Marquez – Guitars/Backup Vocals
Rod Crowell – Bass
Carlos Valdez – Drums
Record Label: SkyBurnsBlack Records, Nov. 2015
Souncloud: ‘No Treasure’