ALBUM REVIEW: SANCTITY’S ROAD TO BLOODSHED
The Second Generation of the American New Wave has arrived. I’m not even talking about the myriad of bands “paying homage” to Killswitch Engage (who are themselves “paying homage” to the Swedes); no, I’m referring more specifically to bands like Bleed the Sky, who sound exactly like Chimaira, Daath, who sound exactly like DevilDriver, and now, with the release of their Roadrunner debut, Road to Bloodshed, Sanctity- who sound exactly like Trivium. Since Trivium themselves sound more or less exactly like Metallica these days, Sanctity suffer the unfortunate fate of having the diluted quality of a copy of a copy of a copy; you can see the original, not but not in all it’s glory. Like another heavily hyped second generation NWOAHM release from Roadrunner this year, Daath’s The Hinderers, Road to Bloodshed is completely solid and workman-like, if entirely unspectacular.
The story goes that Trivium main man Matt Heafy is the one who sold Roadrunner’s Monte Connor on signing Sanctity in the first place; in any case, Sanctity have gone so far as to hire Trivium’s respective producer and mixer, Jason Suecof and Colin Richardson, who, depending on your tastes, have either done the best or worst work of their careers so far for this album. I’d be hard pressed to think of any metal album ever that sounds this crisp, this crystal clear; then again, one might feel it’s almost too clean, that it should be a more down n’ dirty affair.
But it’s a moot point either way, because the music here simply isn’t that memorable. That’s not to say that there aren’t a couple of really good songs- the first single, “Beneath the Machine,” features an infectious vocal melody and a particularly satisfying post-guitar solo breakdown, and “Zeppo” should get your fists pumping as well (and with its chorus, “Why don’t you fade away into nothing?”, one has to one wonder if the title isn’t a sly reference to Zeppo Marx, the sometimes-forgotten Marx Brother who left the comedy troupe after only five films).
But almost everything else here is color-by-numbers thrash with the usual Swedish influence (be it a deliberate rip-off or just that the Americans have gotten so good at writing Gothenburg-esque melodic death, the riff that kicks off “Laws of Reason” bears more than a passing resemblance to that which powers Scar Symmetry’s “Mind Machine” ). Singer/guitarist Jared MacEachern doesn’t really bring anything new to the scream/sing formula other than tossing in a Halford-like glass-shattering operatic high note every once in awhile, but Into Eternity’s Stu Block has already done that, and better; and lead guitarist Zeff can clearly play his instrument, but there’s nothing here that you haven’t heard done a thousand times in the past by Kirk Hammett and his ilk.
Look: like Daath, the fellas in Sanctity are clearly talented, and this does make for a enjoyable listen. But if you’re looking for that next debut album that knocks your socks off and heralds the future of metal, alas, Road to Bloodshed ain’t it.
(three out of five horns)
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