Celestial Sanctuary Interview

Celestial Sanctuary is a Death Metal band from Cambridge, England. Barely in their infancy, the band formed as recently as 2019, but no time has been wasted as just last month saw the release of their debut album “Soul Diminished” (check out our review here). I’m clearly not the only one to notice what a gem of an album the band has put out as a quick visit to Bandcamp will reveal four vinyl editions already sold out (the album has gone into a repress which you can pick up now). So, when we have ourselves a great, new underground metal band what should we do? Well interview them of course! Tom from the band kindly agreed to answer some questions. Check out what he had to say below…

Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for Blessed Altar Zine. First of all, who is Celestial Sanctuary and what does each member contribute to the band?

Tom: It’s our pleasure! Thanks for having us…or me on!

Celestial Sanctuary is Me (Tom) – Vocals and Guitar, Jay on Bass, James on drums and Matt on guitar

I’ve been enjoying the new album Soul Diminished a lot (I absolutely love the track Yearn For The Rot). How has the reception been to the album and how did you manage to build up interest prior to the release? It can’t have been so straightforward over the past year with all the Covid restrictions.

Tom: Glad you’re enjoying it! And that’s one of my favourites too. The reception has been beyond anything I anticipate to be honest – I was expecting to put it out and that would be that. But it’s been so heart warming to see everyone sharing their pictures of records and merch and the reviews have been pretty kind too!

Yeah we just had to adapt – putting more effort into an online presence etc not that we’ve really done much! But y’know – thinking about how we can interact with people etc

The band hasn’t been active for too long. How did you first get together? I guess you were all in other bands before?

Yeah we’ve all been in other bands together, played shows together and recorded together, so the chemistry pre-dates this band!

Did you have much opportunity to play live as Celestial Sanctuary before the pandemic struck?

Tom: Unfortunately not – starting out at the tail end of 2019, 2020 we had a few shows and a festival booked but that all obviously got canned. We may have some bits up our sleeve for later this year though…

What is your songwriting process like? How do the songs come together?

Tom: I’ve been in a lot of bands where the songwriting process has been arduous and a chore, so with this project I specifically wanted it to be as straight forward and as easy as possible! So what that means is I basically just write everything and send it round to the guys. Matt actually came on board after the album and he has some great songwriting chops, so I’m really stoked to see what direction that takes the next album in.

We live in an age now where a lot of people listen to music on Spotify and not necessarily whole albums so often. You chose to release the album on vinyl as well as CD. How do you prefer to listen to music and what do you think the best format is for people to appreciate your music?

Tom: My favourite thing to do is have 4 beers (specifically FOUR cos it’s the sweet spot) and listen to my records through my big speaker set up in my living room. I’ve been collecting vinyl for about 5/6 years – so That’s definitely my favourite way. I do love having CDs in the car and digital is great for running/walking to work though – I think all formats have their positives.

What have been the biggest influences on the band’s sound? I hear some Morbid Angel in the vocal style, maybe some Obituary coming through in the riffs and a bit of Crowbar in the atmosphere?

Tom: You really hit the nail on the head there and I’m so glad you mentioned Crowbar ha! But yeah – by far my biggest influence is Metallica, always has been in everything I’ve done. But yeah – we’re not just influenced by death metal, look closely and you’ll find nuggets of Alice in chains, corrosion of conformity, Mastodon, Sabbath & Black Label Society. And as far as death metal bands…yeah Morbid Angel, Obituary, Carcass & Entombed…all the usual suspects!!

Your Bandcamp page introduced me to the idea of The New Wave of British Death Metal. Who alongside Celestial Sanctuary do you see as part of this movement?

Tom: Just any bands that aren’t gona glorify misogyny or rape, not gona be racist, transphobic or homophobic…Hey – if you’re not a prick come on down and join the NWOBDM haha. But seriously – other bands I’d say would be Vacuous, Coffin Mulch, Slime Lord, Cryptic Shift and Eternal Rot (venom prison by default as well!). Check all them bands out if you haven’t already!!!

It looks like things might be on the verge of opening up again in the UK. What are your hopes and plans for the band for the rest of the year?

Tom: I just hope if the time is right and it’s safe to do so that we can finally play some fuckin shows with our mates!

Finally is there anything else you’d like to promote or draw people’s attention to?

Tom: Obviously you gotta check out our album if you haven’t already! Check out all the bands I mentioned – they all got records, CDs and t-shirts that need to be bought. And just generally do what you can to not fuck the planet up!!! Love each other, don’t be cunts, make racists scared again, send us pics of your Dog and listen to ‘Man or Ash’ by Corrosion of Conformity – that’s a hard fuckin tune right there!

Interview by Tom Boatman

Thanks again to Tom from Celestial Sanctuary. “Soul Diminished” is out now on Church Road Records and Redefining Darkness Records, available on vinyl, CD and digital. Grab yourselves a copy. Also, check out all the bands Tom mentioned. I can confirm that he has great taste! You’ll find some other bands recommended by the band on their bandcamp page and every one of them are worth your investigation. As Tom said, support these bands, buy a CD, a vinyl, some merch. Let’s keep the underground alive!

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