Tuesday 27 September 2022

Sarin - Darker Lakes

Labels: Arkan Records/Dead Punx Records/Dingleberry Records/R.I.P In Peace Records/Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 25 Jul 2017


1. Ice Wrought

2. Amber Guide

3. Darker Lakes I: Moraine

4. Embers Circling Downwards

5. Darker Lakes II: Crater

6. Bloom

7. Ocean Burn

8. Darker Lakes III: Glacial

9. Low Moon

It seems that I'm (unconsciously) focusing on Canadian bands right now. I mean Schedule 1, Terry Green and Seven Nines And Tens all come from Canada (three out of the last five bands I've reviewed, if I'm correct!). Make that four out of the last six with Toronto, Ontario's Sarin. This is also the latest in my ZBR roster review series and focuses on their 2017 full-length Darker Lakes, which turned out to be the last before they went on to work with Prosthetic Records, though ZBR's sister label Tomb Tree did release their follow-up You Can't Go Back on tape in 2021, the same year it was released via Prosthetic on LP/CD.

Somebody needs to update Sarin’s Discogs entry for this release, as it says there are only six track on the record when there are nine. I guess whoever wrote it ignored their ‘Darker Lakes’ trilogy here. Sarin are a self-proclaimed doomgaze/shoegaze band, which are also sub-genres that I’ve been delving into recently. Album opener ‘Ice Wrought’ is a very grandiose song, with mountains of riffs, lingering feedback and dramatic percussion. The mix of clean and harsh vocals compliment each other perfectly and help to open up the album even at this early stage. 

On ‘Amber Guide’, you’re whisked off to a dreamy island at first before reality comes crashing back down again in the form of truly crushing dissonance. It’s way more doom-like when the heaviness kicks in but it’s punctuated for large passages by more gentle instrumentation. The vocals sit deeper within the harsh parts, making it a song of true twists, turns and introspection. 

The first of the album’s ‘Darker Lakes’ trilogy comes in the form of ‘I: Moraine’ and it’s a haunting instrumental complete with whispered, unnerving vocal tones. It breaks up album but doesn’t break up the mood at all. Sarin has garnered a lot of praise for this album and it’s easy to see why. As a band, they’re not afraid to step out of the shadows to create music that crosses over into more mainstream alternative echelons. You might get a sense of that on ‘Embers Circling Downwards’ (despite my attempt at using more words than were needed in the previous sentence). Either way, what is true is just how good it sounds.

‘II: Crater’ is the second of the ‘Darker Lakes’ trilogy and once again in proves to be fraught with danger as it’s bass-heavy, sample-laden tones ring out and guide you into ‘Bloom’, which signals the album’s second half. As it started, it continues with clean vocals and a distant, almost grunge-like atmosphere. No gloom though, just waves of sound that herald a slower burning side to Sarin. Rhythmically on point and led by a rumbling low-end, it promises no safe haven while still inviting you into the sheltered bay with it’s siren song. 

You get a feel that the album is coming to a close with ‘Ocean Burn’ but don’t be fooled, it’s a long way from over yet. The spacial atmosphere of the song looms large as the layers build and the anticipation fizzes along with Sarin’s post-metal majesty. The final part of the ‘Darker Lakes’ trilogy, ‘III: Glacial’, feels just that. Not cold in any way but truly expansive and awe inspiring for such a short song, as it leads into album closer ‘Low Moon’.

Ending with a ten+ minute number is genius because it allows you to cling onto Sarin’s beauty for a little longer than you otherwise might have. I realise that this review has turned into a bit of a mammoth read, but I regret nothing. Music (and writing about it here) are the only things truly sustaining my interest right now (aside from my family and friends of course). Overall, ‘Low Moon’ mainly exists in instrumental form, with sporadically used vocals. That’s perfectly fine as it allows their breadth of song-writing skill to really shine through.

Five years may have passed since this release but it still stands up hella well today and deserves all of the praise it gets. Sarin may have fallen off people’s radars recently but I hope that this review might draw people back to them. Fantastic from beginning to end!

You can stream and purchase Darker Lakes digitally from Sarin below:-

Physical copies are still available from the labels below:-

R.I.P In Peace Records - https://ripinpeacerecords.storenvy.com/

Zegema Beach Records USA Store - https://zbrusa.com/collections/zbr-releases/products/sarin-darker-lakes-12

Arkan Records - https://www.facebook.com/arkanrecords/

Dead Punx Records - https://www.facebook.com/deadpunxrecords

Dingleberry Records and Distribution - https://www.facebook.com/

R.I.P In Peace Records - https://www.facebook.com/r.i.p.inpeacerecords

Zegema Beach Records - https://www.facebook.com/zegemabeachrecords

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