Without a song: Sanctorum – Semper Fidelis

Semper Fidelis Album CoverWithout a song throws a spotlight on albums and tracks beloved of Skin Back Alley. Old, new, classic or cutting edge, our aim is to share good music that has touched us through the years.

Artist: Sanctorum
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.

Sanctorum 2014 Lineup Promo Shot - Cropped

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

For news on the imminent release of the band’s new album, keep your eyes on Skin Back Alley, and check out Sanctorum’s official Facebook page and Twitter feed

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Arch Enemy working on new album

Arch Enemy

Arch Enemy have announced that they are working on the follow up to 2011’s Khaos Legions album.

Guitarist and songwriter Michael Amott explains: “This album is actually very different from Khaos Legions. All of our albums have had their own vibe, and this one will be its own entity as well. Lyrically, it’s a much more personal record, and musically, I feel the songs have more dynamics and depth than ever before.”

“There’s certainly very heavy and aggressive metal taking place,” he continues, “but there’s also another level of melody that excites me. There’s a wide spectrum of variety in the material… A couple of the songs feature real strings, and it’ll be interesting how our fans will take to that. I am pretty sure they’ll love it!”

The album is likely to be released later this year via Century Media and Arch Enemy play the UK’s Alt-Fest in August.

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My Ruin to play Alt-Fest 2014

My Ruin have announced that they are to play the UK’s 2014 Alt-Fest.

The LA based metal band will play the festival’s Metal Stage on Friday 15th August. A video trailer for the festival featuring the band has been released, coinciding with the announcement.

Alt-Fest is the largest dedicated alternative culture festival of it’s type anywhere in the world. Licensed for 20,000 people, it features six loosely themed stages of music, along with a big top arena featuring circus and theatre shows throughout each of the festival’s 3 days. There are also themed woodland walks, sculpture and art installations throughout the grounds.

The 2014 festival takes place between 15th – 17th August at Boughton Estate, Kettering and early-bird tickets are currently for sale at £115.

Check out Alt-Fest website here.

My Ruin’s new album The Sacred Mood is out now.

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