Solid metal from Canada

Hailing from Canada’s Far North Yukon region are Sanktuary. The quartet has gathered quite a bit of momentum in Canada with their debut release ‘Something Fierce’ (2013). Unfortunately, the album was released on the now defunct label Spread The Metal Records. But just as true metal warriors do, the band decided to release their sophomore album ‘Winter’s Doom’ independently.

Sanktuary have become known for a good mixture of classic metal combined with speed metal influences and a little bit of old-school thrash metal for good measure. Their music is deeply rooted in the 80s without sounding out of date. On ‘Winter’s Doom’ the band now presents seven tracks that exactly match these characteristics. I can already hear the doubters and negative nellies say ‘We’ve heard all that before.’ Guess what, classic metal is now more than 30 years old and if you expect another revolution in that genre I have to disappoint you: it will never come. And ‘Winter’s Doom’ does not present that revolution either. However, what this album presents is compact and solid classic metal that is exactly about what metal used to be about: fun. If you are looking for good, old-school metal fun, a party-compatible sound and a decent workout for your neck muscles you are absolutely right here with Sanktuary.

The band opens the album with ‘Space Race’, an up-tempo metal track that has at least as many classic metal references as it has thrash metal ones. The track is filled with sharp riffs and melodic solos. That should get any party going. ‘Wild Is The Wind’ offers more of that and includes some little twin-axe melodies here and there which adds another dimension to Sanktuary’s sound and produces an early 80s-Maiden feeling. The third track ‘Curse Of The Vermin’ proofs that Sanktuary can also take the foot of the pedal without losing any heaviness. The track has a slow intro before it speeds up, showing some more old-school thrash metal riffing.

The title track ‘Winter’s Doom’ is the highlight of the album for me. The song has some of the fastest and certainly the most brutal riffs. With just under four minutes it is the shortest composition on the album which makes it punchy and to the point. The remaining three songs ‘Open Your Eyes’, ‘Corpse Blockade’ and ‘Maximum Authority’ keep up the level of aggression of the first half of the album. They don’t offer any surprises but a logical continuation from the first tracks.

‘Winter’s Doom’ is not an album that will re-define the classic metal genre but it is an album that is extremely catchy, straight forward and to the point. In other words: this album is a lot of fun and that’s what it should be all about. The only negative I found is the rather powerless drum sound. I am sure Sanktuary will work on that for their next release. However, overall ‘Winter’s Doom’ is a solid album that should gain Sanktuary a lot more fans.

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