Worshipping at the Altar of Black & Silver

It has been many years since the music I worshipped was at the altar of black and silver. In those days, I had really big hair and a large collection of black T-shirts.

Today, while another day older and, like a hard cheese, aging to a desired ripeness, I still have an ear for loud guitars and drums in a rockin’ good combo.

Whitehorse’s own Sanktuary has released a five-song, self-titled CD, and within its tiny, laser-etched grooves are hints and haunts of my monochromatic youth.

The general tone of the CD is classic metal music; that is to say crunchy, high-toned guitar with ballistic-edged drumming bordering on mechanical blitzkrieg. With the guitar tone, I have personal issues. This tone comes from the 1980s, an unfortunate decade in which the guitar, in my humble opinion, lost its way.

With this nasty decade well past, I can now look back with amusement and forward with some interest at the CD at hand: Sanktuary by Sanktuary.

All my noted biases aside, I still found the CD an interesting listen.

The songs are more progressive than I expected. By this, I mean the songs themselves are not just three-chord knock-offs, but have some rhythmic and thematic movement within them.

Take, for instance, the last song on the CD, Paradise Lost.

For one thing, it’s long; it clocks in at 10:20, a length that could challenge any band to maintain focus or hold the interest of the listener. A Herculean effort overcome with interesting time changes, a synth intro and a bridge that features bassist Cole Hume.

Metal solos are notorious for being a showcase of shredded notes.

I was impressed to hear some solo work by guitarists Alan Binger and Glen Emond, on Death Dealer and Into the Inferno, who found a home and groove for countermelody and generally allowed the guitar to sing.

Holding his own, and holding down the beat, is drummer Anders Grasholm. At times you have to wonder if he has a hidden arm or a couple of extra legs. In metal, a mutant drummer would be an asset.

All kidding aside, Grasholm is a powerhouse that is up to the job and knows a thing or two about smacking the skins.

As to the titles, Into the Inferno and Paradise Lost, I would ask the question, Does this suggest a deeper Dante-Milton connection or a simple Renaissance fetish? You be the judge.

For a first CD, this certainly displays the band’s ability to play in this genre and, although all songs are original, it seems to have an uncannily familiar Whitehorse metal sound.

Who knows … perhaps the metal scene in this town has spread its dark fruit wide. Could this portend a Whitehorse metal compilation CD in the future? That is one CD I would bang my head again for.

Sanktuary’s CD can be found by contacting the band at www.myspace.com/sanktuaryslays, trucking down to Triple J’s Music or by checking out the local bands section of your favourite CD shop.

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