Sanktuary – Winter’s Doom (2016) – Review

RockmusicRaider Review - Sanktuary - Winters Doom - Album cover

It must be the Northern Lights. Or the cold and remote Yukon countryside. THIS is good old Thrash and Heavy Metal of the speedy kind spilling over the pond into Europe in all its putrid splendor. Just have a look at the pretty gruesome album art.

The Canadian band Sanktuary unleash their newest, self-released album Winter’s Doom at us in style. A style reflecting the harsh environment from whence they come.

Now, this band is not to be confused with the Seattle-based thrash metallers Sanctuary, the ones who just decided to wake up and reunite after a long, a very long sabbatical.

Sanktuary rock us from the cold North of Canada.

From Whitehorse in the Yukon to be precise. The band started off in 2009 with a first EP called – well – Sanktuary. This first one already got them some acclaim. Their defection to Halifax to find new, juicy grounds to pursue their projects did not quite work out and made them realize that this was not for them. They thus promptly moved back to the gold-rich landscape of their homeland. 2013 saw their first full-length album Something Fierce, now followed in 2016 by Winter’s Doom. 

Winter’s Doom presents itself in its thrashy ’80s metal robe!

And this is actually a good thing. It speaks to the roots of the genre and really points the listener to metal the way it should be played. Bare bones, straight, scratchy, screechy, and loud. And they include many typical Heavy Metal and Thrash Metal elements all at the same time.

All that metal jazz is concocted by a four-man lineup: Alan Binger (vocals, screams, guitar), Glen Edmond (guitar), Cole Hume (bass), and Anders Grasholm (drums).

And be warned, yer record is not perfect!

Some high compression haunts this record. And this is taking at least some fun out of it. The pretty overwhelming guitar domination drowns out the vocals on some of the tracks. Yet again, this greatly depends on what kind of system you are blasting it from. Also, the somewhat repetitive flavor of the tracks, all cut from the same decidedly rough stone, with a somewhat ubiquitous drum work to boot has at least cut my enthusiasm for this record some. Okay, I admit: It IS mighty difficult to find a lot of variation in your tune in this genre. And – as an example – in Vermin Lord they made a laudable attempt to change that.

Now, not all is lost. There is a lot of outstanding riffing and soloing going on throughout Winter’s Doom and I really like that. The power stays on and electricity sets itself to full throttle throughout the record. Sanktuary actually increase the speed and energy some in Winter’s Doom (the title song) as they move down the tracklist. 

This is unlike many other bands, who severely lose their oomph towards the end. Or they think we will not detect their fillers as they stash them into their record’s B side. As to Sanktuary, none of that is visible and they blaze full speed ahead right through the tracklist.

So, what’s it gonna be?

Space Race hurls itself at you right from the start, all high tempo, and speed. This first piece of metal will get you in the mood and embark on this wild ride properly decked out. Or it will run over you and leave you disheveled. It will all depend on the type of metal you are made of.

The soloing on Wild is the Wind at the beginning of the track always takes my breath away. This one grew a couple of distinct ’80s Iron Maiden balls. Now, one of the best tracks is Space Vermin starting off with a doomy mood, but soon recovering speedily towards a hell-and-fire ending.

The track that stands out towards the end is Corpse Blockade, some Black Sabbath-ish style antics turned Iron Maiden with a pinch of Metallica. And once they let loose with the solo, this really fired up the mosh pit neurons of yours truly. Holy Cow.

In conclusion…

Winter’s Doom carelessly takes Thrash Metal and then shamelessly transgresses on Heavy Metal territory to pick up some elements. Then Sanktuary shake all of this well and spit it out.

This is further spiced up with heavy riffing and soloing, leaving you with a heavily metallic aftertaste in your eardrums, whilst you bob in their wake as they move on to the next track. Their no-nonsense approach to metal is refreshing. They however still project this garage band look and feel, which is a pity of sorts. Otherwise, good stuff – I really like this disk. Recommended.

Record Rating: 7/10 | Label: Self-Released | Web: Facebook
Release date: 22 January 2016

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