Artist: This Is Sparta
Album: Sinners (EP)
What exactly is a symphony? I mean, in a more colloquial way than the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition (which is “a consonance of sound” for the linguaphiles among us). What is which truly separates an errant collection of sounds and noise from the cream-of-the-crop echelon upon which “symphony” really resides? Is it just how complex the sounds are? How intricate they are? Or perhaps it’s something more–like emotion and tangibility. The point is that, for the most part, when describing something as a symphony of “X” or “Y,” it’s a figure of speech. This is hardly the case with French symphonic deathcore act This Is Sparta, and their sophomore EP, Sinners. Combining copiously aggressive, backbreaking heaviness with ethereal, billowing atmosphere and emotion, the result is an EP that is a truly comprehensive lecture on what it takes to put the symphony in symphonic deathcore.
This Is Sparta waste no time in launching a bright, colorful aggressive attack on the listener’s ears. “Fathership” crushes and grinds the listener with dissonant, bone-splintering downtuned guitars and looming, devastating percussion. These elements wind together, ebbing and flowing into a subtle groove-like pattern which is nothing but awe-inspiring. Right from the get-go, Sinners establishes that This Is Sparta are very well synchronized and capable of reaching startling levels of harmonization at the drop of a dime. “A Martyr’s Reward” further showcases the band’s prolific ability to create stunning, detailed microcosms at the blink of an eye. With nothing more than a speedy, brilliant flourish of the drums, the guitars kick in with a catchy, technically impervious riff and a jarring, booming bass riff which flattens the listener like a pancake. “Ocean Grave” also makes a riveting use of the band’s bass-heavy riff-writing, creating deep, grimy dissonance and filthy, bone-bruising series of stunningly composed breakdowns which flow smoothly into–and out of–one another. All the while, alternating low, grisly growls and fierce, screeching screams chip and wear at the listener’s sanity.
Sinners isn’t all deep, down-tuned chugs and mammoth heaviness, however. This Is Sparta prove that they are just as well in touch with one another when it comes to synchronizing and creating ethereal, serene moments of harmonization as they are with staggering, spine-splintering heaviness. The conclusion of “Ocean Grave” is exemplary of this, using smooth, soft and subtle riffs along with a crystal-clear guitar tone to draw the listener into a trance. Furthermore, This Is Sparta consistently include electronic and symphonic effects with the use of synth and keyboard to add another dimension to their already large-as-life dynamic. While the keys and samples are persistent, they also don’t wear too much on the listener and take too much of their attention. They know just when to kick in and shift the mood of the song from sinister to smooth–or vice-versa. “From the Frontline” uses samples and other symphonic touches to do just that–add to the dynamic in a way that is neither bland or boring, nor over-the-top and flamboyant.
Together, these two moods create an immersive environment for the listeners to find themselves completely lost in. Sinners is a collection of songs which brilliantly flow from technical to chuggy, stopping and taking breaks at symphonic and emotional to take a break. “Ocean Grave” does this as well as any track on the EP–it shows This Is Sparta reaching openly across their entire domain, contrasting soft and atmospheric elements with all out, in-your-face attacks which confuse and bewilder the listener into amazement. “I, the Tormentor” does this well also, as the track that makes the most pointed use of stunningly detailed and intricate song writing, it is also the one which closest fits the band’s symphonic nature. It is in “I, the Tormentor” that the band truly steps it up the extra notch needed to make Sinners a true cacophony of brilliant and emotionally driven, yet complex and technical music requisite of a veritable symphony.
Whether you’re looking to sit back and relax, or get up and conquest the world, This Is Sparta have an EP which will surely serve as your evening’s soundtrack. With track after track of brilliantly composed yet emotionally and technically uncompromising deathcore, Sinners is an engaging, thorough experience which will certainly keep you hooked from beginning to end.
For Fans Of: Make Them Suffer, The Bridal Procession, Signal the Firing Squad, As God Is My Witness
By: Connor Welsh