Band: Celestial Sanctuary
Title: Soul Diminished
Label: Church Road Records
Release Date: 26 March 2021
Format Reviewed: Digital Stream
There are times when my music listening mood steers me towards the strange and innovative; other times something familiar sounding, but perfectly executed scratches my listening itch and so to this latest review. “Soul Diminished” is the debut album by Cambridge, England’s Death Metal four-piece “Celestial Sanctuary”. Fans of old school Death Metal will find the sonic landscape of this album very familiar. The riffing is chugging, often pretty slow and stomping, but the band can rev things up to a higher tempo when they choose; the vocals are monstrous sounding and the whole thing is unquestionably heavy as a really heavy thing for the duration. On first impressions this is solid, well-played Death Metal, without offering anything out of the ordinary, but there’s something infectious and damned satisfying about this album that if anything makes it a more enjoyable listen as the album progresses and with each repeated listen.
Album opener “Rid the Gormless” wastes no time scene setting with a distorted, chudding riff, soon joined by pounding drums and reverb heavy vocals. There’s a cool breakdown two minutes into the track, giving the drums some space to show a little flair. The track alternatives smoothly between tempos, something to be heard throughout the album. It’s a good opener and the title track, that follows up with more menacing and catchy riffing, keeps the momentum going.
As the album continues track by track, it’s all pretty enjoyable. The formula of the music is nothing overly complicated or flashy. Guitar solos are at a minimum and when they do come (as on “Suffer your Sentience”) they’re more about atmosphere and tone rather than any super fast widdling. The vocal phrasing brings to mind Morbid Angel’s David Vincent, while the backing vocals, when they come, have a Black Metal tinge to them. It’s an appealing Death Metal sound the band has going, maybe something in the realms of Obituary, and there’s enough variety from track to track with the rhythms, tempos and riffing to keep it interesting.
But as enjoyable as all this certainly is, it’s on the final (bar the hypnotic instrumental closing track “Formless Entity”) three tracks that the album really peaks, to my ears anyway. “Mass Extinction” starts out slow and menacing, with nice ride work on the drums. Halfway through the track speeds up into a ripping gallop, then after more cool transitions, it just stops. Boom. “Yearn for the Rot” with its ever present devil’s tritone hook, and ominous mood might be even better. Again the solos are minimal, but the hooks are great. “Endless Chasm” meanwhile, comes faster out of the gates, something of Cannibal Corpse about it. This may be the band at their fastest and most intense on the album, the band incrementally getting better and better as the album reaches towards the end.
With the album starting out good and gradually building up to pretty great, this is altogether a really satisfying listen. On their Bandcamp page the band announce themselves as The New Wave of British Death Metal. If this is the likes of what British Death Metal will have to offer in 2021 there’s going to be a lot of great Metal to look forward to. 8/10 Tom Boatman
8/10 To greatness and glory!
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