Review: Sabrewulf ‘Mala Suerte’

Since forming in 2011, Sabrewulf from El Paso, Texas, have released a five song EP Prophecy in 2011, a three-song demo The Condemned in 2012, a debut full-length titled Sangre Y Alma in 2016, and a split with Blackhand in February of 2018. The releasing timeline suggest the Texans always take time before any release. And, that makes sense, as their combination of old school death metal and crust, wrapped in a traditional HM-2 sound gives an ode to death and destruction. Maintaining the same formulae, three years after their debut full-length, Sabrewulf released their sophomore offering Mala Suerte independently, but now is being released on CD and LP format by Petrichor Records, under the Hammerheart Records umbrella.

Sabrewulf 'Mala Suerte'

From the Spanish title which means ‘Bad Luck or Misfortune’, gives an initial hint that the four guys from El Paso, have returned with something menacing and delivered it with a possessive spirit and energy of crusty old school death metal. However, be assured that this is not a typical old school death metal record with hefty amounts of d beats, but a mixture of that, combined fantastically with other influences, which can only be understood by repetitive exposure to each of the ten tracks, that in total runs at just over thirty minutes.

The track lengths may hint at the intense distortion, and d-beat punk on offer, but Sabrewulf also add a raw spontaneity reinvigorating the traditional Swedish style, as Mala Suerte consists of songs using a careful formula of introduction, build up transitions and movement’s, unpredictable use of interludes and tempo changes, before pounding to a conclusion – making it appear like an order out of chaos in a classic underground style, that rushes blood and always makes you longing for more.

Mala Suerte begins with the instrumental Beyond The Gates providing an invocation to go beyond. And as you delve deeper into the album, Grave Of Pestilence appears with infested, dirty and dark rhythms sounding more painful than the torture to death. The rhythms are carried in a medium to slow tempo, and the more it gets under your skin, the more the other elements of the composition engulf.

with Mala Suerte, Sabrewulf have transported HM-2 influenced old school death metal to another dimension…

Similar things will be experienced in Warbreeder and Bottom Dweller, but then the course unexpectedly alters with Final Prayer, which sees a female voice adding a chilling touch to initiate the prayer, although it may seem kind of redundant as the development of the track creates a path to Inverted Faith and Ritual Skin. Both these tracks are possibly the most memorable on the whole record, with their obscene grooves and crawling transitions, immersing the listener in what can only be described as heavy and compact lava. A similar tonality can also be found in the penultimate track Marked For Death.

Flowing to the deep end crusty, sludgy and almost grinding Coffin Nails feels like a lethal shock, sounding totally worthy of the name and like rapid fire, contains murderous insanity. With a run time of just under one and half minutes, this track shows song-crafting strength by the Texans.

Final track, which is interestingly also the title track, Mala Suerte, starts with a sinister mood, akin to an initiation of some kind of ritual, but eventually breaks into a whirling brutality, where the vocals are a little more in restrained, the riffs are slower, and drenched with that ill-fated atmosphere throughout. Although it’s the lengthiest track, clocking in at nearly seven and a half minutes, it also beholds the essence of the whole record.

With an analogue sounding production and haunting album cover art, this record has all essentials to make it eligible for one of the best recordings of 2020, and ought to make genre dwellers of the swedeath sound excited, as with Mala Suerte, Sabrewulf have transported HM-2 influenced old school death metal to another dimension.

Label: Petrichor Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Randolph Whateley