Sanktuary – Winter’s Doom (2016) – Review

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RockmusicRaider Review - Sanktuary - Winters Doom - Album coverIt 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 are unleashing 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, 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 (supposedly, as per Scrooge McDuck at least) gold rich landscape of their homeland. 2013 saw their first full length album Something Fierce, now followed in 2016 by Winter’s Doom. Green Needle Records just outside of Whitehorse produced the album. But more to the overall quality later.

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).

Just to warn ye: There is some high compression haunting this record and this is taking at least some fun out of it. The pretty overwhelming guitar domination is drowning out the vocals on some of the tracks – depending 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 set to full throttle throughout the record, no letting down until the bitter end. Sanktuary actually increase the speed and energy some in Winter’s Doom (the title song). This is unlike many other bands, who severely lose their oomph towards the end or think we will not see their fillers as they to slip them into their record into the B side of things. As to Sanktuary, none of that is visible and they blaze full speed right through the track list.

So, watchya gonna get?

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 you on this wild ride properly decked out or will run over you and leave you dishevelled. It will depend on your #metal DNA. The soloing going on in Wild is the Wind at the beginning of the track will take you by surprise. Displaying a distinct ’80s Iron Maiden flavor. Now, one of the best tracks is Space Vermin starting off with a doomish 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 of tune turned Iron Maiden with a pinch of Slayer. Pretty cool.

Sanktuary carelessly take Thrash Metal and then shamelessly transgress on Heavy Metal territory to pick up some elements, shake all of this well and spit it out. This is then spiced up with heavy riffing and soloing, leaving you with a heavily metallic aftertaste in your eardrums, whilst bobbing 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 disc. Recommended.


Record Rating: 7/10 | Label: Self-Released | Web: Facebook

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