SAPATA are a progressive doom metal band from Tampere in Finland who formed in 2015 and their current day line-up consists of Saara Šamane (vocals), Felix Voltti (guitar), Tomi Tiitto (guitar), Iida Seppälä (bass) and Anttu Puuti (drums). Saara will be a familiar name to regular Shaman readers as her recent mellow folk laden solo album was reviewed by my friend and colleague Lee Beamish back in November 2020. In fact Saara features quite prominently on this album as she not only designed the cover art, but released it on the label she runs with husband, PA Kiiskila, Last Day Of The North.
The album is the follow up to debut Satanibator (2017), the EP Reflections (2018) and a single, Circle from 2019. The aforementioned cover art, like that found on her 2020 solo album, is both naturalistic and esoteric. The shortest track on the album, Myriad, kicks things off with an almighty slab of heavy Candlemass laden doom metal. The riffs are mammoth and guaranteed to crush cities, while Saara‘s vocals soar into the ether in the fine tradition of Messiah Marcolin. A powerful start. Buried In Us‘ faster (comparatively speaking) parts remind one of the NWOBHM inclinations from bands like Trouble, combined with the depressive qualities of Solitude Aeturnus.
Seasons Shift Forward for the first time (in my opinion) actually demonstrates the album’s progressive tendencies combining genteele lo-key folk with almighty epic doom metal. A killer combination. I Sang To The Wind is elemental with a wistful vocal drifting in and out, intertwined with a moody Middle Eastern style melody. There are shades of Esben And The Witch’s brand of glorious gothic dream pop, and anyone who knows me, knows how big a compliment that is.
[Circle] alternates effortlessly between slower passages and more dramatic heavier sections, all of which are laden with equal amounts of raw passion…
No Sun To Embrace is up next and has a rather restrained quality, some of the vocal stylings reminding me of Lightmaker’s very own Jade Morgan with its seductive powerful quality. It reminds one of moody stormy nights while the epic guitar work gives the music a sense of bombast and drama without ever thankfully pouring over into European Power Metal silliness.
Penultimate track Circle is the longest at over seven minutes, and as mentioned at the start of the review, it was previously released as a single. The song is astonishing as it alternates effortlessly between slower passages and more dramatic heavier sections, all of which are laden with equal amounts of raw passion. It’s almost like the album had been building up to this point, marking Circle as the definite standout track by a long shot.
Last Juniper starts with a fuzzier tone than heard previously, but make no mistake, this is not the cool swaggering desert rock of Kyuss and Fu Manchu. Instead, it power glides into a climatic slab of moody Warning-esque epic doom metal providing one with a pleasingly satisfying conclusion to the album.
‘Atmospheric, heavy and beautiful, the album is a dark and hypnotic whole’ is how No Sun To Embrace was described in the promo notes and I couldn’t have put it better myself. I was initially filled with a little dread when I heard the term ‘progressive’ being bandied about as the likes of Baroness and Mastodon currently seem to be occupying that spot. I needn’t have worried because, unlike the tedious pretensions of those two, SAPATA never forget to inject a sense of humanity and emotion into the proceedings, resulting in an album that is worth checking out for sceptics and fans of the genre alike.
Scribed by: Reza Mills