At some point a few years ago, the blackened crust trio known as East Sherman shed that skin in order to release their truer form, Sentient Divide. While still a trio, Sentient Divide recorded a self-titled full length that showed their sound moving toward dark and more ominous territory.
Now, three years later, and having enlisted a second guitarist, Sentient Divide unleash their sophomore album, Haunted by Cruelty. Counting 5 serpentine and devastating tracks in total, Haunted by Cruelty showcases both the Spokane-based quartet’s penchant for creative destruction as well as their developing sense of composition. It’s not every day you get to hear a record at once refined and yet totally batshit violent, and that’s only one of the reasons Haunted by Cruelty demands your immediate attention.
“Haunted by Cruelty is about cruelty and the traces it leaves, psychological or physical,” says Avery Strobel (guitar/vocals/french horn).
Sentient Divide recorded Haunted by Cruelty with none other than Greg Wilkinson at Earhammer Studios. Says Strobel: “Greg is a legend as far as sound engineering for modern metal and punk bands goes, and one I’ve wanted to work with since hearing his work for bands like Vastum, Stormcrow, and Necrot years ago. We had a great experience working with him. His ability to blend the sickest guitar tones and have totally pulverizing but organic drum production was especially impressive, along with cultivating a productive but generally relaxed environment in his studio. It was a very long trek to get down to Oakland from Spokane, we hit a huge snowstorm on the way down, I got sick the first day of recording, but despite all that it was ultimately still worth it given the final result.”
According to Strobel, as Haunted by Cruelty “progresses the album gets more melodic, providing a different intensity than much of the straight death metal riffing earlier on. This is intentional, and is meant to work well along with the artwork and lyrics. I think those who pay attention to all will be rewarded through what is revealed.”
He continues: “I wanted to make a record that was more ominous while also being more melodic. Explore darker territories riff wise, but still have them be memorable and straight up rock. Respect the classic bands we take influence from, but expand and combine their sounds in ways that they never did. I think we achieved what we set out to do, and I’m very happy with the result.”