Progressive/Melodic Death Metal
Someone who knows my musical preferences would know that I am a huge sucker for Australian metal, with some of my favourite extreme metal acts being out of the region. However Sanctium is one of the first few progressive or melodic death metal acts that I encounter, and after five years, the band drops their debut, eponymous full length album.
I am not much of a melodic death metal fan, but Sanctium‘s debut certainly caught me off guard, with the band starting the album off strongly with a nice melody, yet managing to avoid sounding cheesy and retaining that somewhat aggressive, energetic touch throughout the album. The band’s brand of melodic death metal easily reminds one of bands such as Amon Amarth, especially in vocalist Chris’ vocal qualities bearing some resemblance to Johan Hegg, though the material on Sanctium includes a wider variety of styles and influences. The band’s hyperactivity is obvious as they hardly stay in one particular segment for long, and even on opening track Invoke the band quickly goes through numerous different sections, ensuring that things do not get too old and that the entire listening experience of the album remains constantly fresh and interesting.
What is particularly good about the album is also in how the band places quite an emphasis on the atmospheric aspects of the music, such as the various interludes between tracks to help to create that sense of unease and tension in the air, and this focus on the atmospherics is something that many bands of in the genre overlook, allowing for Sanctium to stand out from the rest.
The instrumentation on the album is another thing that captured much of my interest, with each of the musicians in the band being extremely prolific on their instruments. Guitarists Matt and Anthony execute their riffs with sharp precision, and this is most obvious in the abundance of lead guitars on the album, while drummer David goes between different styles with ease. The chemistry between the band members can also be heard in the tightness of the record, especially in how the chugging riffs and drums are often coordinated nicely.
Like many other melodic death metal albums that I used to listen to, the strong sense of melody on the album ensures that Sanctium is an emotional, yet powerful album throughout, with things like the twin-harmonised leads on songs like A Vile Mind. At the same time this means that the band has included some of the elements that I personally dislike from the genre, such as the breakdowns that are included on some of the tracks, though overall the material here is top-notch and things like these can be easily overlooked.