by MythofRock

I never expected that Sadus would return, given that all these years without an album (since 2006’s “Out for Blood”) had signaled, without doubt, the band’s definite termination. Besides, their tendency to meddle with Testament and other side projects (Sadus were never an exclusive priority for them) had persuaded me that this highly underrated band belonged once and for all to the past. However, Travis’ announcement a few years ago that he was working on new material with drummer Jon Allen stirred some sort of (hidden) emotion among thrashers, including me.

You see, Sadus were among the first bands that introduced me to the genre; indeed, I owe them a lot. Their ferocious, hyper-speed toxic thrash of earlier days, all their members’ unparalleled technicality, and the complex, dark, sardonic paths they trod later attracted my hearing sense in a way that no other band did. For me, their reactivation might be analogous to some old friend’s return, whose value was never widely appreciated. Even without DiGiorgio’s out-of-this-world basslines, the time came to hear Sadus again spreading venomous thrash.

However, does “The Shadow Inside”, seventeen years after Sadus’ last endeavor, live up to the enthusiasts’ expectations or confirm some skeptics’ stance, who declare that the returns of prominent acts after a long hiatus lack substance? Well, the duo’s new album partially reflects what Sadus used to be and fully shows what they truly are today. One the one hand, it reveals the abilities of its creators and commands your attention, addressing ears that are already “trained” to Sadusian, “hard-to-digest” characteristics; on the other, when the unavoidable comparison with the past occurs, you’ll find out that it lacks the whimsical insanity and chaotic wanderings in the dark, nightmarish mazes of the unapproachable “Swallowed in Black” and “A Vision of Misery”. Sadus’ technicality may be self-evident as a mathematical axiom, but Travis and Allen didn’t push themselves to their boundaries this time. Thus, I consider “The Shadow Inside” to be the band’s least venturous effort (by Sadus’ standards, of course).

Sadus convey their distinctive personality through intricate compositions that occasionally encompass a variety of themes, interesting twists, and even a few melodic parts (like the excellent seven-minute opening track, “First Blood”), all while showcasing Travis’ familiar high-pitched, vitriolic vocals. You cannot help but adore their ability to write intriguing riffs with proper successions of rhythms and a heavier-than-usual conclusion (“No Peace”), or their art of composing “crawling” patterns (“Pain”, “Scorched and Burnt”). You’ll be touched by the sick way that “Ride the Knife” starts, the insanity in the themes of “It’s the Sickness”, and the malicious self-titled track that ideally closes the album. On the contrary, there are moments that don’t add anything to Sadus’ myth (“The Devil in Me”, or the one-off adrenaline shot of “Anarchy”, which is certainly an appealing guilty pleasure, trying to “remember” old, ultrasonic ideas).

Conclusively, the purpose of “The Shadow Inside” was to re-introduce Sadus to the world after an extended hiatus, and it’s been fulfilled. It has dynamism and strong points, but in the medium-term, it will claim a position far away from the unreachable peaks of the past. “Unfortunately”, Sadus have indulged our ears and minds, and now it’s somehow inconvenient to settle with “The Shadow Inside”. Probably, that was the best that Travis and Allen could do at that specific point in time. I’m curious to find out their intentions about the future; until then, probably I’ll wander again through the labyrinthine structures of “A Vision of Misery”.

♦ 7/10

Alex Nikolaidis

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