Sanctus Infernum - Sanctus Infernum
Solitude Productions
Death Metal Groove
8 songs (45'04")
Release year: 2008
Sanctus Infernum, Solitude Productions
Reviewed by Adam
Those of you who have taken an economics class at some point in your life probably know the concept of the law of diminishing returns. This concept has also been known to appear in other facets of life besides economics. In very simple terms, it teaches us that if you keep repeating the same formula over and over, at some point you will achieve lesser results. I say all this because I found that the self-titled debut from Sanctus Infernum is a good illustration of how this law can appear in the music realm.

Before we continue this…ahem, lesson…let’s get to know the band, shall we? Hailing from Midwest USA (Kansas, to be exact), Sanctus Infernum play a slow and doomy version of death metal with a healthy amount of groove thrown in. Add to that the vocals of Ricky Vannatta, which are generally a harsh whispery growl, and you have what sounds a bit like a doomier version of Bolt Thrower with Peter Tägtgren behind the mic. Every description I have seen, be it from the band or their label, describes the sound as black doomdeath, but I really don’t hear any black…at all. What I do hear are the razor sharp leads of Mark Anderson (formerly of Manilla Road) that had me fully on board as I nodded along with the opening track, Flesh Without Sin. Unfortunately, this is where the law of diminishing returns connection appears. Tracks 2, 3, and 4 sound remarkably similar. Now, I don’t always mind this, but this is pushing it. The leads and riffs don’t just sound similar, they almost sound like the same 10 or so notes played in varying orders. The effect on me was that by the time song 4, Facing the Black, took off, I was becoming a bit bored with the style. Seriously, save for the acoustic intro and outro on The Journey Back, everything feels very “paint by numbers”. The crisp and heavy riffing on Suffer does its part to break the monotony, as do portions of the final three tracks, but for me the die was already cast.

If you like your death metal with a healthy amount of groove, Sanctus Infernum just might be for you. Others may not have the same problems I did with the songwriting, but it is definitely a pitfall that needs to be considered. I would advise sampling the waters extensively first. You may find, like me, that your rating of this album gets continually worse as it unfolds. On a positive note, Anderson’s riffing has its bright spots, and Vannatta’s vocals are very powerful, but each loses their edge after repeated listens. In the end, this is one of those albums where you are better off listening to a track or two here and there.
Killing Songs :
Flesh Without Sin, Suffer
Adam quoted 64 / 100
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