Album: Semper Fidelis
Originally Released: 2011
Label: Auburn Fox Records
The first thought that occurs to me when listening to Sanctorum’s third album, Semper Fidelis, is usually: “Bugger me! Why the f**k are this band not global metal superstars by now?!”
I then take a moment to briefly consider the swathes of shit that have crossed over into the realms of worldwide adulation, my synapses working overtime in order to try and and understand why this blazing display of dynamism, technical proficiency and yes, hook-laden melody, has not somehow delivered the same level of fanaticism for this Colchester cohort.
Tours supporting LA metal stalwarts My Ruin; sets at Bloodstock; appearances alongside the likes of Napalm Death, Evile and God Forbid; production from David Chang of earthone9 and Orange Goblin fame and, most importantly, as engaging and hair-raising a slab of molten metal as you’re ever going to launch down your lugholes. Amongst all these high points, there has been an unfathomable lack of cross-over and traction.
I just don’t get it.
From the opening title track onward, Semper Fidelis beats you violently around the head in a sonic attack sure to leave you breathless and yet begging for more. The band bring together elements of death, thrash, groove and good old fashioned British heavy metal in a heady blend. Across its 13 tracks and 59 minutes, the album is never less than thrilling.
“Dying Breed” is an excellent example of Sanctorum’s songcraft; A combination of Aaron Sly’s serrated screams combined with melodic, clean-cut metalcore vocals, thundering percussion from Matt Alston that is crisp, precise and consummate without being inaccessible, and Alex Commons’ and Sly’s walls of gnarled and biting guitar, over which Commons lets rip with prudently placed solos that soar and stalk with the minacious power of a bird of prey. The whole thing builds throughout it’s running time to a devastating climax, executed with skill and spine-tingling potency.
Elsewhere “Rise Of The Underdog” thrashes along at breakneck speed, demonstrating the band’s astounding skill, and delivering a heads-down, horns-up, explosion of a song. “Empty Glass” brings the doom-laden, foreboding atmosphere, all picked guitar and melodic vocal lines that gather momentum and erupt with volcanic intensity, laying waste to all in its path.
“Crown Of Scars” is an epic ending to proceedings, just shy of 7 minutes in length and weaving a fibrous tapestry along the way. It takes in NWOBHM-esque guitar, searing speed, breakdowns that Rage Against The Machine would give their eye teeth for, and groove the likes of which hasn’t been heard since Pantera’s early 90s golden age.
My extremely basic understanding of Latin suggests that Sanctorum roughly translates as “Saints”, and Semper Fidelis “Always Faithful.” The fact that Sanctorum are still here and making peerless heavy metal (the likes of which many other bands can’t come close to matching) and yet have still to make a more significant impact upon the world of music, makes them saintly and faithful in the best possible way.
On the eve of playing a summer tour this August in support of My Ruin, and about to unleash their new album on the world, it’s about bloody time that the heavy metal community – in the UK in particular, but the world over too – sits up and takes notice of one of the very best bands that these isles have to offer. For their music not to be heard is, to my mind, unthinkable.
Rise Of The Underdog? Quite. Together, let’s make it happen.
~ oOo ~
Watch the video for “Rise Of The Underdog” – shot on tour with My Ruin in 2012 – below:
Sanctorum will play:
Friday 15th Aug: Alt-Fest, Kettering
Saturday 16th Aug: Underworld, Camden
Sunday 17th Aug: The Haunt, Brighton
Tuesday 19th Aug: Sound Control, Manchester
Wednesday 20th Aug: O2 Academy, Birmingham
Thursday 21st Aug: The Fleece, Bristol
Friday 22nd Aug: The Duchess, York
Saturday 23rd Aug: The Waterfront, Norwich
Semper Fidelis is out now on Auburn Fox Records and can be ordered from the band’s official merch store