Album Review: Sertraline- Shade

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Many Buffalo bands are going to be releasing new music this year and we couldn’t be more excited! Sertraline is just another prime example of fresh cut steel being welded in the 716. They are a post black metal band in their prime, exploring a niche genre while wielding their own creative edge.

Their debut release, Shade is an ominous and mysterious journey from start to finish. This piece was recorded by Joe Leising at Rotten Metal Recording– a seriously underrated and widely unknown studio in North Tonawanda. Joe has recorded highly regarded albums for local artists such as Hubris, Enthauptung and Cain. He’s also in just about every extreme metal band in the area, (the same can be said for Sertraline‘s bassist, Jason Roman), performing guitar duties for Seplophile, Hellcannon, Enthauptung and Ferus Din (I’m sure I’m missing a few).

Shade is comprised of 4 tracks that seamlessly bleed in and out of each other, making for a roughly 17 minute entrancing experience, covering the entire spectrum of post black metal, doom and atmospheric/ambient metal. Technically, there are only 2 songs on this EP. “(Bloom)” is the opening track- an eerie 2 minute overture of an intro, which builds and builds effortlessly into the onslaught of despair that follows it.

There’s really no better word for the opening riff in track 2, “Azalea”. This song is literally a bombardment of despair and misery, but given the genre, should they really be doing anything else? The vocals never break character and are truly the most “black metal thing” on this EP- textbook raspy screams with nice chorus/reverb effects and great sustain throughout. Sad distorted chord progressions, huge sounding drums with a thunderous doom metal presence and echoing guitar overlays in the higher register, make this the most enjoyable misery based music you’ve heard in years.

Track 3, “Haze” follows suit with “(Bloom)” and just sets up the last track with some creepy tones, raising the hairs on the back of your neck for a mere 50 seconds.

This leaves us with track 4, “Shade”, an 8 1/2 minute masterpiece that just doesn’t stop kicking you while you’re down. For the most part, this song follows suit with “Azalea” in the despair department (despite a much faster and more crushing intro), but it does have a unique and monumental progression worthy of recognition. There is a clean guitar part in this song that I can’t stop listening to. It kicks in at around the 4 minute mark and evolves each measure through 3 guitars, bass and drums. The distortion doesn’t kick in until roughly the 6 minute mark and works its way into the most fitting conclusion to the EP Sertraline could’ve hoped for.

Sertraline are a band that pride themselves on a conveyance of sadness, longing, self reflection and subtle uplifting through their music. They are an emotional rollercoaster like no other act in our metal scene. Bands like Mavradoxa and Enthauptung come close to these levels of emotion, but Sertraline is a completely different level of “sad”. I can’t wait for them to release a full length, so I can experience the full emotional spectrum of their musical efforts.

Check them out this Saturday at Dreamland and listen to this album on Bandcamp!

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