Sanctity – Road To Bloodshed – 3.5/5
Its been a while since I wrote here but that's more due to the fact I'd been pre-occupied with film and re-listening to collection classics as opposed to exploring new material. As such, it only makes sense to return with a bang (still to come) and this is very much my 'warm up' run. When Sanctity first emerged two years ago they made a bit of a splash, but not the good kind. Early on they were picked up by Roadrunner for 'sounding a bit like Trivium,' their major success story at the time. Assumedly when they released an album that wasn't awful their label lost interest leaving them in limbo with thrash fans passing them up as another lousy retro-thrash act and the rest confused at the fact that they actually play thrash and not New York Hardcore with solos.
In fact, all these comparisons seem not quite suited to the beast on display; they certainly have some of the old school attitude about them but they musicianship is far more “pop,” more modern. Fuck it, it's downright addictive, even 'danceable' at times, and its difficult to not sing along to the likes of “Road to Bloodshed” playing out like some demented Lady Gaga/thrash combo, or the epic lines in “Zeppo” begging for a show of lighters swaying to the pounding sound of the guitars. And the best part is they succeed in doing this whilst never feeling like anything but a modern thrash band; the drums still create a blissful chaos, the riffs are never less than memorable and every song contains the required shredded solo to put the best big four in their place.
I'm not denying there's still some of that hardcore influence trickling in; between the cleanly sung chorus lines and 'breakdown' like slow passages breaking things up it's actually quite evident at times but this is not a negative thing. The unconventionality of their sound simply prevents them from sounding like another cookie cutter clone and amidst the expected exclamations of “clean vocals in MY thrash” and “where are the blast beats?” it all simply fits together. Yes, repeated listens show that many of the tracks work on a similar formula and it could have benefited from less of a 'clean' over-production so its not without its flaws, but looking back it's a shame that it took me a second chance listening to realise just how much potential there is here. Don't pass them off as another sheep in the crowd as you may be passing on one of the few creative acts still in the modern thrash scene.
Highlights: Beneath the Machine, Road to Bloodshed, Zeppo