Genocide - Black Sanctuary
Shadow Kingdom Records
Disc 1: 9 songs (51'50") Disc 2: 6 songs (38'42")
Release year: 2009
Shadow Kingdom Records
Reviewed by Alex

Due to the nature of my job I often have to deal with the Japanese people. I run into them at various trade shows, try to secure research projects with their companies, we buy their raw materials, which often leads to verbal communication and e-mail exchange. One thing never seizes to amaze me is how, despite their often very poor command of the English language, we always find the way to understand each other.

Flipping through the pages of Genocide Black Ritual booklet I get the complete vibe of some of my Japanese colleagues’ e-mails. Common English rules be damned, you can still get the point that Genocide emerged from Japanese heavy metal/hard rock underground in the late 70s – early 80s, went through a revolving door of lineups, with members quitting then coming back. The band broke up and seized to exist several times only to be reborn again, and after all which was said and done Black Sanctuary really represents their only true full-length album (originally recorded in 1988).

There is no doubt that with Genocide Shadow Kingdom Records was able to flesh out some really unknown NWOBHM, and to show how this style evolved in different world locations. Genocide go for this genre’s strange, practically occult, variety. Rougher, very primal, enveloping raw atmosphere of tracks like Black Sanctuary and Midnight (Come She Will) are a lot more Bathory and Venom than Iron Maiden. Warbling and grumbling bottom end dominates on Doomsday and Living Legend. In fact, the bass/drum supremacy is so profound, guitar riffs are often drowned and left behind. Sowing chaos and occult is fine, but guitars are so quintessential in this style of music, Black Sanctuary is incomplete for me in this regard. It is only with the soft acoustic backdrop in Landscape of Life or with the light dreamy instrumental Silently Falling the leads are heard, and they do not fail to impress. Bearing a profound Japanese flavor, Landscape of Life somehow reminded me of Accept’s Breaking Up Again. The most balanced track of the album, where guitars are pushed up and catchy melodic chorus is introduced, A Bullet in the Wrong Heart, was the one to make the best impression on me.

The star of the show, and the member who persevered throughout, is vocalist Toshihiro Takeuchi. The guy’s voice is absolutely unique. If you need proof, just listen to the opening scream and modulations in Last Confusion. From demonic depths to soaring heights, Toshihiro has an unbelievable range, and he delivers in every register. The only two analogs I can think of, and this is the highest complement, are King Diamond and Midnight of Crimson Glory (RIP). The ability of Toshihiro to assume different personalities and voices fits the mysterious cuckoo atmosphere of Black Sanctuary rather well.

Despite how this album is supposed to be a unique gem in Japanese NWOBHM I can’t quite reconcile myself with its sound mix, which in my opinion robs Genocide of the possibility to showcase its musicianship. In fact, I found the demo versions of these songs (on disc 2) to be more guitar rich, even if the sound is cutting and shrill, and enjoyed those more than the final version. Black Sanctuary may be more satisfying to those trying to unearth the long lost NWOBHM history.

Killing Songs :
A Bullet in the Wrong Heart, Landscape of Life
Alex quoted 69 / 100
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