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Sanctorum - Ashes Of Redemption
Just shy of two years ago as album landed on my desk for review. The album in question was "The Heavens Shall Burn", an offering from young East Anglian upstarts Sanctorum. I was not familiar with the band, but after listening, I realised that these reprobates had something about them as they bludgeoned their way into my psyche with a cracking record.
Since then the guys have landed and endorsement deals with Vigier Guitars, signed to Copro Records and recorded a new album with Dave Chang. So I now have in my hands this follow up, "Ashes Of Redemption".
Sanctorum take no prisoners. Hurtling into opener 'Carved In Stone' the boys carry on where "The Heavens..." left off. The feel is familiar, the riffs are crunching and within no time, the blood is pumping. Immediately one thing is clear though...Sanctorum have progressed; in particular the vocals of Aaron Sly. 'Sorrow Of Man' is brutal with Sly's confidence shining through. The lyrics are spat out like a true veteran whose oral hygiene routine involves gargling with gravel and sandpaper.
'Against Us All' is a battle cry anthem of a song, devastating to the core. Galloping rhythms, breakneck drumming, crushing vocals and an essential ram your fist in the air chorus. This track captures the essence of the band, the raw power and enegy is harnessed and unleashed with full force. Ash Lewis' fretwork is outstanding and flawless; the fluid solo breaks add soul and emotion to the track. 'These Killing Hands' is superb. It is emotional, dark and distubring, with electrifying arrangements and guitar work.
'Hope Of Salvation' is a real curveball, clean guitar tones and haunting clear vocals... it brings the pace of the juggernaut of an album right down. Despite the initial shock it shows that technically Sanctorum are on top of their game. Sly is more than a one trick pony as he can sing with clarity as well as sandblasted venom. As the track progresses you cannot help but raise a smile as we lose the mellowness and it hurtles into the more familiar old school thrash feel.
Title track 'Ashes Of Redemption' is normal service resumed with a five minute belter of a piece. This is an excellent track with a blistering intro, gut churning vocals, fret board acrobatics, jaw dropping drumming and hooks so huge Jaws wouldn't stand a chance. This track combines the energy and power of the band with just enough commercial feel in the chorus to make it a winner across the metal boundries. After such a hammer blow of a track the pace is again slowed for 'The Reckoning' which is instrumental and curious. Very Iron Maiden-esque in its essence it promises to be something much bigger than it is. It showcases the undoubted musical talents of the guys but offers little as a track on its own. What it does succeed in however is an extended intro into another guaranteed crowd pleaser, 'A Call To Arms'.
Often albums go downhill after peaking in te middle, and this was my concern, but Sanctorum have bucked the trend by winding down with belting tracks; the epic and anthemic 'Tales Of A Horror', the blistering 'Fallen' (which is destined to be another fan favourite touching on a more commercial appeal) and the thunderous closer 'Take It All'.
Sanctorum have succeeded, they have progressed and harnessed their full creaivity to produce a corker of an album. Hats off to Dave Chang too as he has fully captured the raw edge and essence of this eight legged thrash machine. Sanctorum have emphatically stuck two grubby sweat drenched fingers up at the so called "Difficult second album syndrome", and with "Ashes Of Redemption" they have played a blinder. They're playing hard, playing fast and they're playing for keeps...