Review Summary: Unrelentingly stale.
Mixing (sub)genres will result in one of two things; either a diverse and captivating sound taking the best from each genre it combines, or one that takes the worse from each genre, leaving it a mediocre and stale offering. Sanctus Infernum’s self-titled debut unfortunately falls in the latter category. Fusing together black metal, death metal, and hints of doom metal, one could expect something pretty fantastic, perhaps along the lines of Arkhon Infaustus, and in one respect Sanctus Infernum does succeed; they sound very
much like Arkhon Infaustus. However, unlike Infaustus’ latest offering Orthodoxyn
, which pulses with brutality and varies itself enough to warrant repeated listens, Sanctus Infernum’s self-titled merely drudges along, recycling riffs, solos, and vocal arrangements.
The most obvious thing I can point about Sanctus Infernum
is how frustratingly repetitive it is. It’s very difficult to even distinguish the different songs; they’re all built upon the same doom/death inspired riffs, and the vocal delivery is almost identical in all of the songs. The solos as well, which predictably begin the same way in every song, do not sound unalike. It seems that the band has made absolutely no effort to vary their sound; they found one particular structure which suited them, and then they repeated it 8 times. Unfortunately for them, what they chose was not even that good in itself. The only good I can say about the structure of both the songs and the album, is that the very infrequent (I heard perhaps two, or maybe three) and short acoustic passages, give a little relief.. Honestly though, it really doesn’t make a difference.
Continuing on with the theme of repetition, the vocals make no mistakes. A low-ish rasp, obviously the result of severe bronchitis, is the only thing you’ll hear on this album. The vocalist doesn’t even bother with differing his voice; he uses the same slow delivery constantly, with, I’d assume, his hand held at head height, curled as if holding an invisible ball. Even though the album is very repetitive, the musical/technical aspect of it is at least bearable. The vocals however, are not. Any point in the album where I stopped and thought that a particular riff or drum fill sounded decent, would be completely ruined by the vocals.
I’ll make a concession and say the band shows a little potential in the final track ‘Let It Be So’, which begins in a particularly good way. The vocals still ruin the song, as does the minute long ‘solo’, but the stoppy-starty breakdown-esque nature of the song appealed to me. However, it is far too little, and far too late. I’m not sure whether or not the fact that these guys sound so much like Arkhon Infaustus, who are an infinitely better band, should affect my opinion, but it does. Where Arkhon Infaustus succeeds in combining the three aforementioned genres and making something new, Sanctus Infernum merely replicates, before replicating itself. In conclusion, Sanctus Infernum
is a predictable and utterly uninspired album, which should, and will, be swept under the rug and not bothered with.