It has been over 2 decades since we last saw an album from the legendary Power/Thrash Metal band, Sanctuary. Warrel Dane and Jim Shepard went on to form the also legendary band, Nevermore. But in 2010 Sanctuary officially reformed and 4 years later the world has received the latest offering from Sanctuary, The Year The Sun Died. Does Sanctuary still live up to their former glory? Let's find out!
The album begins with the first single, Arise And Purify. It is a great fast and heavy way to start off an album fans have been waiting so very long for. Dane's unforgettable voice still shines through as clear as ever. The solos are amazing and everything feels so fresh, as if the band never left. The next track, Let The Serpent Follow Me, has a bit more dynamics to it. When it is fast, it is fast, when it is mellow, it is mellow. Overall, a killer song. Exitium (Anthem Of The Living) is up next and it starts off with a quite epic intro that leads into the early day Sanctuary sound. For those that love the mid-tempo Sanctuary, this song was written for you. Question Existence Fading sounds like straight up Nevermore, which is not a bad thing (and let's be honest, Sanctuary and Nevermore go hand in hand). A very solid, straight up rocker. I Am Low is one of the few mellow moments of the entire album. The music brings back the memory of the song The Legacy by Testament. A great break from all the heaviness and thrashy moments that fill up the rest of the album. The next song up is Frozen, which is a killer in your face Thrash song. This song feels right at home with something off Dead Heart In A Dead World or Enemies Of Reality by Nevermore and the chorus is so, so catchy. One Final Day (Sworn To Believe) is actually an acoustic driven track. It still features some electric guitar leads and drums, but Dane and the acoustic guitars drive this song. More upbeat than I am Low, so it's not really fair to call this one a ballad, just acoustic and awesome. Up next is The World is Wired. It starts with a lone guitar ala Judas Priest and leads to a nice mid tempo hard rocker filled with double bass and soaring vocals. The Dying Age is more somber and a bit slower track. In a way it almost feels like a track off Alice In Chain's self titled album (if it had a tinge double bass). The acoustic instrumental interlude, Ad Vitam Aetemam, fills up the next track. It progressively gets heavier and heavier until it unleashes into the title track The Year The Sun Died. The somber guitar continues in this song and helps give the song the most epic feeling in the entire album. The song is filled with despair and no hope, a great feeling for the entire album. The album closes with Waiting For The Sun. This is another song that kinda has that late 80's Power Thrash feel mixed with Alice In Chains (Seattle style) Hard Rock. A different ending than one would expect from Sanctuary, but a very nice fit.
The Year The Sun Died is a much different album than one would have expected from Sanctuary. It is a bit more diverse in sound (especially in the second half). It is filled with Power, Thrash, Hard Rock and great acoustic passages that makes this a fun listen. One thing to note about the entire album is that whenever Dane hits his infamous falsetto vocals, it is used more as background vocals, rather than in the forefront like the bands first two albums Refuge Denied and Into The Mirror are known for. Don't let that ruin it for you, those falsettos are still awesome! Now let's all hope for a full fledged 2015 Sanctuary World Tour!
Sanctuary- The Year The Sun Died available October 14th via Century Media
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Even with only 3 releases (2 Albums and 1 EP), Triptykon has proven to be one of the heaviest bands in all of Metal. Fronted by the legendary Tom G. Warrior (Celtic Frost, Hellhammer), Triptykon's newest release Melana Chasmata may have never been released if Warrior would have carried through with his suicidal thoughts. This album nearly killed him, but in a way saved him as well (with the help of his girlfriend who talked him out of it) This album is sheer depression from start to finish. That is not meant to be a negative thing (Haha, word play). It is full of somber tones, absolute destruction of the mind, and of course is the brilliant songwriting of Tom G. Warrior.
Melana Chasmata (which roughly translate into Black, Deep Depressions) starts off with a different kind of opening. Rather than going completely Doom Metal, or going all guns blazing, the opening track, Tree Of Suffocating Souls starts off midtempo (although it gets faster as the track progresses). The opening is layered in heavy riffs and lots of Double Bass. Right from the start when Warrior opens his mouth to sing, you can hear the heartache of life in his voice. The song never leaves the faster, midtempo pace once it starts until about 3/4s into the song where it gets very doomy for a bit before picking it back up to finish out the song. Boleskine House. Starts off slower and more somber than the proceeding track. This is a signature type of Triptykon track that is slow, doomy, and heavy all the way through. So many Doom Metal bands could learn a thing or two from this track in particular (let alone the ENTIRE album). Alter Of Deceit is next, and again it start of slow. It's roughly at the same tempo as Boleskine House, but even heavier (if that was possible). Breathing is a nice change of pace on the album. While it sort of similar to the last couple tracks, when the vocals kick in, it goes into Death Metal bliss. The verses and Chorus are much similar to the track, A Thousand Lies, off Triptykon's debut album, Eparistera Daimones. This is the fastest track on the album BPM wise and is pinpointed on a great spot on the album. It's Fast, Thrashy and filled with great Death Metal antics that would be amazing to hear live. Auroae follows up next and it is one of the most mellow songs on the album. It still has some great doomy guitar and ethereal moments but the song doesn't change tempo and keeps that same eerie feeling throughout. Next up is Demon Pact. The song doesn't really kick in until a couple minutes into the song, but is very dark and evil. Another song that doesn't vary in tempo, it just drags you into the abyss slowly but surely. In The Sleep Of Death comes now and is a little more upbeat (though not much). This crushing track chugs and chugs away while having some very ethereal guitars used in the background. OH GLORIOUS DOOM! Up next is the epic on the album, Black Snow. A bit more upbeat as compared to some of the other tracks on the album, but it is very epic sounding (just like the term implies). It's very grand and huge all while being unrelenting. You get to hear more of Warrior's tortured vocals in this one. All 12:25 minutes of Black Snow does feel like the soundtrack to your demise. The final track on the album is Waiting. Bassist and Backup vocalist Vanja Šlajh does the vocals does the majority of the vocals on this track repeating the line over and over "We Are The Same". The song is surprisingly positive as compared to the rest of the album which makes you feel the hell that Tom G. Warrior was facing at the time. The song itself is a bit more of a Post Rock song than anything else and features a clean guitar solo, again, something you'd never expect from Triptykon. The song and album ends on Vanja Šlajh's voice fading away along with the guitar drones drifing off into what could only be the heavens for an optimistic look, or hell for a return to tragedy.
Overall, Melana Chasmata is a dark, tortured album musically and lyrically. Knowing the back story of Tom G. Warrior during the process only makes this album even more haunting. While as dark and doom as the album is, it's oddly beautiful in a way only Doom Metal can do when done perfectly. Warrior knocked it out of the park on this one. We can only hope now that he is happier with life....and maybe another full scale US tour in Triptykon's lifetime.
Triptykon- Melana Chasmata available NOW via Century Media Records/Prowling Death Records
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Darkest Hour has been one the underground Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore bands that most recognition for 2005's Undoing Ruin and 2007's Deliver Us (both produced by Devin Townsend by the way). The band has been going strong since 1995, and they are continuing on with their 8th album, their self titled album, Darkest Hour. This is their first album for Sumerian Records and the first to feature bassist Aaron Deal and drummer Travis Orbin. it is safe to say with this album that they are hitting some new genre territories they have yet to explore.
The album starts with the song, Wasteland. It already starts off heavier than most of their past material for their use of downtuning and 7 strings which makes it's first appearance strongly in the band's history. The song has that heavy chug sound (some call it Djent) but the song carries itself in the way any Darkest Hour song would. Strong clean choruses, fast riffing and fantastic soloing. Next is the shortest song on the album, Rapture in Exhile, which just blows you away from the second it starts. Fast, thrashy, and HEAVY! The Misery We Make comes up next and oddly enough, it does sound very commercial. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it definitely is a song that could fit well on Top 40 Hard Rock Radio (IF they are ok with clean vocals with an occasional scream for emphasis. If All That Remains, In Flames, and Demon Hunter can be, Darkest Hour sure can as well. Up next is Infinite Eyes. It starts off with a very grand sounding guitar riff before going into some nice Melodeath riffing. The solo on this one is one of the finest solos on the album. The whole song has a nice faster midpace feel to it, a nice driving sound that Darkest Hour always seems to achieve with ease. Futurist follows up and oddly enough it is another song that could easily fit in Top 40 Hard Rock Radio. Very minimal use of screams and focuses on a style of poppier clean vocals that isn't normally heard in the band. The Great Oppressor comes in charging and heavy. It features on of the best choruses in the album. It's quite reminiscent of the faster songs of In Flames. Anti-Axis is next and again it features a downtuned chug throughout. Djent fans would really appreciate this one. The chorus is quite catchy. Unlike most Darkest Hour songs, instead of a solo there is a Breakdown section that may catch people by surprise. It's not until the last few seconds of the song where you hear a guitar lead, so that can count as a solo. The album takes a mellow, but very tom heavy approach in the next song, By The Starlight. The song features DRÆMINGS on background and shared main vocals. Toward the middle of the song it picks up a bit with distortion and double bass, but ends with a very ethereal vibe. Lost For Life pummels it's way next and it is a killer thrashy song that is relentless. Short, thrashy, and sweet. The Goddess Figure comes up next and is a nice midtempo number to start off with then gets fast and thrashy. It also features one of the best choruses on the album. Beneath The Blackening Sky is classic Darkest Hour. Much like a song that would fit in Undoing Run or Deliver Us. Hypatia Rising starts off with a nice acoustic riff with the heaviness in the background in a cool Classic Metal vibe. When the song fully kicks in, again, it is classic Darkest Hour. A great blend of Melodeath and Metalcore. The final track is Departure. It starts off with and orchestral section then leads into clean vocals and riffs that match well with the more poppy songs on the album. This, once more, can fit quite well on Top 40 Hard Rock radio, but as a 2nd or 3rd single, after the band gets more established to that audience. The orchestral parts continue on through most of the rest of the song as does the clean vocals being the main choice for style. The song ends much as it began as the orchestra fades away.
As mentioned before, Darkest Hour hits some new territory on this album, and if marketed right, this very well could launch them on mainstream radio. This may discourage some fans, and may encourage even more. Overall, Darkest Hour put out another solid album and only time will tell as to where this could lead them in the future.
Darkest Hour- Darkest Hour Available August 5th via Sumerian Records
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
That Drummer Guy: Radio DJ, Interviewer, Reviewer, overall...an OK guy.