By Sarah Kitteringham
CALGARY – Skaldic poetry details a form of ritualistic execution dubbed the Blood Eagle. Chronicled only a handful of times in the sagas of Germanic and Nordic history, this ritualistic practice entailed severing the ribs from the spine with a sharp object, and then pulling the lungs of the victim through the opening, visually evoking a pair of “wings” with the cone shaped, spongy, and presumably gushing blood organs. Although it’s unclear whether this practice actually occurred or if the mentions were an unsettling literary device intended to disturb the squeamish, the whole thing is undoubtedly that key element of metal: brutal.
Of course, that’s what attracted Calgary act Blackest Sin to it in the first place. So much so, that they named their second studio album after the practice.
“It’s a badass title,” offers vocalist and guitarist Rob Salewich, who has been part of the band since their inception in 2009. He formed the project with bandmates Nick Meunier (drummer) and Tim Lewis (bassist and vocalist); all three members have remained involved through their self-titled debut in 2013 all the way up to current day. Longtime guitarist Michel Jutras departed in 2016, to be replaced by former Scythia string slinger AJ Bergin.
“One of our previous members Michel brought up the idea of the method of torture. It stuck and we loved the lyrics it produced!”
The new album features the Blackest Sin style: that is, blackened thrash metal with solos, harsh vocals, and grooves galore. However, their production and song structures have dramatically improved for the better on the new album.
“The album was recorded with Graham Riddle at Wayfarer Sound,” says Salewich, referring to the studio in Calgary that’s already captured releases by Mandible Klaw, the Difficult Brown, Steelhead, and X-Ray Cat.
“Over the long and arduous process we went through other producers due to technical and personal issues. Graham saved our asses and put together an awesome sound for us to punch back into the scene with! Working with Graham was absolutely smooth. He has this ability to produce great overall sound by getting to know the people in the band and their music on a level deeper level.”
Salewich continues, “The musical direction is somewhat a continuation of what we had written for our self-titled. We also explored different styles of lyricism by opening up our influential content.”
We were curious about the sudden influx of Norse themes, particularly in the context of the gruesome title. Why the sudden interest in Odin et al?
“The only sacrifices made to Odin on this album are the many ales crushed and joints smoked,” jokes the band. The reference to substance usage does come with a more serious edge, as chronicled in the song “Moose Milk.” In reality, it’s a traditional alcoholic mix drink that was historically served at events for those in the Canadian Armed Forces. For the band, the song has more insidious connotations.
“Rather than giving somebody a title that they would assume a concept for, we decided to throw a little curveball in there and just use our original working title.”
Metaphorically and literally, Blackest Sin channels into the darker parts of the human psyche.
Salewich fittingly concludes, “The actual concept for the song is that of self-loathing and [substance] abuse.”
Blackest Sin release ‘Blood Eagle’ on December 9 at Distortion (Calgary) on CD format. They’ll be performing alongside Burning Effigy, Vile Insignia, and Stab.twist.pull.Blackest Sin, Blood Eagle, Burning Effigy, Distortion, Stab.Twist.Pull, Vile Insignia