Sanctus Infernum – Martyr   Leave a comment

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The doom/death metal band Sanctus Infernum was formed in Wichita, Kansas, USA by Mark Anderson and Ricky Vannatta in October 2006. Their debut album was one of the best debut albums of 2008 and now this album follows in a similar style and sound, not breaking any new ground but why should they anyway. Bands in the Death/Doom genre have always been a source for debate among Death Metal fans and Doom Metal fans alike. The style has got its fair share of supporters but a lot of people are divided in their opinions on whether this mixing of sub-genres is actually a good thing or not. If there was ever a band to take that mixing of styles to the extreme is Sanctus Infernum. Too Death Metal for some Doom heads and too Doom for some Death Metal fans, the new album called “Martyr” won’t change those feelings. As much as i think this is a OK album, one thing is very obvious, every song sounds the same. The debut was pretty much the same but this album is even more repetitive, so much so that in describing one song, you are describing most of the album. What is classic though about this band is they take the plodding nature of bands like Saint Vitus, give it a total Death Metal guitar sound and blood gurgling vocals which gives Sanctus Infernum a very unique vibe.

After a strike of a large gong, the album heads off in its deathly, plodding journey. Album opener “Essence Remains” has slow to mid paced riffing with a killer guitar sound, double bass kicks and vocals like someone gargling bits of shattered glass. The vocals are in the style of early Carcass etc etc which gives them a very old-school Death Metal edge which is different to Hooded Menace and other Death/Doom types who have that horror-monster sound. Like the first album the guitar solo’s have inflections of Psychedelia, Classical and just plain old Heavy Metal shredding which give the songs some much needed color. The title track kicks off with a riff in the vein of Solitude Aeturnus with plodding, churning twists and turns and then never changes. The constant repetitive riffing can be hypnotic or it can drive you mad depending on your mood but at least the riffs are real good otherwise the album would be a total disaster. One of the best riffs is the main ingredient in the third song “Empty Heaven”, a churning twisted song with a melody line that is totally sick but also catchy. “The Becoming Of Me” is the first detour of the album with a clean, melodic vocal and acoustic guitar in the beginning, that soon mutates itself into another demented slab of tormented Death Metal. The stop/start crunching rhythm is a bone-snapper and one of the more infectious parts of the album but by this stage of the album, the vocals can start sounding recycled as the vocal delivery is almost identical in every song.

When you get to the second half of the album especially, it all starts to get a little stale but to be fair, a lot of bands in this genre suffer the same problem. “Pulse” and “Stand For Nothing” are typical examples of recycling the same musical ideas over and over again. They are very well played but the never ending repetition begins to take its toll. Even the solo’s all seem to have the same structure. “Hollow” kicks off with a bass line before the deathly riffing again takes hold but there is a sense of strong melody within the track which makes it stand out among the other songs on “Martyr”. The solo is also one of the best on the album, beautifully executed wailing notes scream over the top of the main hellish riff. The final track, “As Silence Breaks” has a very atmospheric intro that sets the mood for the darkest, most diverse track on the album. There is clean, acoustic breaks complete with clean vocals. The album could have used more breaks like this, “As Silence Breaks” is the best track on “Martyr” simply because it does away the usual song structure they used on the rest of the album. The song nicely builds in intensity and has a multi-dimensional vibe about it, the album then ends the way it started with a big hit on a gong. Overall “Martyr” is a very predictable, one-dimensional album but on a technical level, it works very well. The production is top-notch, the solo’s while also very predictable have exciting bursts of fine guitar wizardry. Where the album fails is in the constant repetition of riffs that are hardly varied at all, great for a song or two but a whole album’s worth is overkill. So i have mixed feelings about “Martyr”, the debut was a stronger release overall but this will still please the fans of the band. One thing is certain, they have developed a sound that is unique to them even though they have obvious influences. A little uninspired in parts but “Martyr” will still please a lot of people out there, i have a feeling though that its the Death Metal fan that will most likely pick this one up and dig it. 5.5/10


Posted April 26, 2010 by doommantia in Uncategorized

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