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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Sanctus Bellum

Return to Dust

Review by Gary Hill

These guys might not be entirely original, but I’d have to say that their combination of influences and the way they deliver their music is unique. I’d have to peg this as one of the cooler metal discs I’ve heard in a while. If you like stoner metal, you’ll dig this, but that’s far from the only reference on hand. Sure, the central showing is Black Sabbath styled doom, but you’ll also make out bits of Motorhead, Iron Maiden and Godsmack (particularly on the vocals). While the pieces aren’t necessarily extremely originally, they way they are put together is. I particularly enjoy the fact that they have no problem letting the bass guitar take a prominent role at times. This is a great disc. I look forward to hearing more from this band. I should mention that a lot of the lyrics are inspired by H.P. Lovecraft.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Shoggoth's Ascent

A cool bass line that could pass for progressive rock opens this and holds it for a time. As the other instruments jump in, though, it’s obvious that this is incredibly slow and plodding stoner metal. It’s also very tasty. They take us through a change or two as it continues. At around the minute and a half mark they shift to a fast paced jam that’s still very Sabbath influenced. The vocals come in more like something from Motorhead. They pull it out to a melodic jam later that has a cool texture and more of a rock and roll vocal sound. This almost has a Black Sabbath goes jam band feeling to it. They return to the faster paced Sabbath like movement later.

Dagon's Bride
There’s more of that Sabbath like doom metal on this, but overall I’m reminded of Godsmack. It’s another smoking track. Much of the riffing on this is very much like Black Sabbath, but the vocals are definitely in keeping with Godsmack. I love the killer guitar soloing. There’s also a cool bass driven section. There’s also a guitar section that makes me think a bit of Iron Maiden.
Curwen
They lead in with a heavy motif that’s very much in a stoner rock style. As it drops back for the vocals the style is more along the lines of modern alternative rock. The actual singing on this mellower motif is rather Ozzy-like (circa the Black Sabbath era). As it works out into the more rocking chorus, though, those Godsmack-like vocals are back. There’s a smoking instrumental jam on this that even brings in some almost Latin modes on the guitar soloing. 
God's Own Warrior
Here’s another example of how these guys take a Sabbath-like sound and blend it with more modern raw metal sounds to produce something quite unique. It’s also a very powerful piece of music and seems to be about self-appointed killers for a deity. Of course, you probably got that from the title.
The Reddening West
They don’t change the map a lot, but this is perhaps the least Sabbath-like track on show. That doesn’t mean you won’t hear Sabbath here, but this is perhaps the closest to track to Godsmack of anything on the set. The guitar solo, though, reminds me in a lot of ways of vintage Tony Iommi and some of the vocals are rather like Ozzy in his Sabbath days. 
White Cat
If the last track was the most purely Godsmack-like, this is the most purely Sabbath oriented. The vocals are quite Ozzy-like on the verse. The singing on the chorus is more like Ozzy combined with some Sully Erna. It does get super heavy later. This is another killer cut.
 
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