BARGAIN BIN REVIEWS – Sanctus’ Aeon Sky


Hold on to your asses, it looks like we have two related, regular blogs in a row! A weekly one no less! Could we be onto something here or am I simply feeling the after effects of a two week meth-binge and shopping spree? Who knows? Stay tuned…

by E. Thomas

For some reason my Local Hastings store has a little stash of older and out of print Metal Blade CDs in their clearance bin and they are selling them for 99 cents. Among the pick ups I have found have been Lobotomy‘s  Born In Hell, Beyond the Embrace‘s Insect Song, Epidemic‘s Decameron and Exit Paradise, Memory Garden‘s Mirage and a slew of Ancient, Amduscias and Amsvartner albums…which I left alone.

One of the finds that piqued my curiosity was an album called Aeon Sky by a band called Sanctus. At the time, it was a purely blind buy, mingled in with all the other Metal Blade leftovers I had stumbled across. Fate must have had its hand in play as it turned out to be quite the little gem…

Sanctus
Aeon Sky
(Metal Blade Records, 2000)

Before the likes of Abigail Williams, The Funeral Pyre and Sothis dragged the US black metal scene into the European styled,  symphonic black metal mainstream, (now mostly defunct) bands like Scholomance, Dreamscapes of the Perverse, Dragonlord, EpicureanVeneficum, Vesperian Sorrow and California’s Sanctus were actually treading relatively uncharted waters for US bands a decade or so ago ― long before it became trendy to do so.

Formed in 1998 under the moniker of Pantheon, but long since split-up, Aeon Sky was the band’s only album, though they released a three song demo EP called Fateshifter in 2003. Now, don’t get me wrong this album would never have competed with the big symphonic black and death metal players of 11 years ago, namely the band’s primary influences: Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Emperor, Borknagar, Arcturus, etc… and  especially when Sanctus was fronted by a singer who looks like a server at Applebees. Still, this seven song (and one intro) affair, full of lengthy, ambitious songs and lots of progressive elements with a clean crisp production certainly should have garnered more attention when it came out. One could argue that Sanctus might have been a little ahead of their time, as back in 2000, when the Europeans still dominated melodic/symphonic metal, modern metalcore was burgeoning and the US was just coming out of a saturated death metal slump.

Admittedly,the drumming isn’t great and  the songwriting is a a bit choppy with some rather messy songs intermingled with some, at times, truly excellent symphonic black metal. But you can’t question the passion and conviction these California kids brought to the table. For example opener “Empyreal” is a complete mish mash of lazy blasts and unsettled energy that makes for a bad initial impression, but with the 6-minute ‘”If We Fall…”  the bands seems to settle down and manage to inject some very nice clean and epic segments by way of female vocals  and spoken words that don’t come across as cheesy, theatrical or overtly ridden with gothic atmosphere like Cradle of Filth (though certainly a baseline comparison). Instead, it retains a clean, fresh, American sound that’s easily identifiable 11 years later. The ambitious, 8-9 minute epics “November”  and “Tired of the Pain” wipe away the slightly grimace inducing vocals for the previous track “Odyssey”. The 7-minute “Thought I Saw Your Wings” is another standout, a regal but tempered mid-paced track before “Thy Desolation”, which is a bit wet, laden with rather clean croons. The nice vinyl sounding, crackling, marching outro “Remnants” rounds out the CD, and leaves me wondering what these guys could have done if they had in fact fulfilled their four album contract with Metal Blade. Unfortunately, it seems like we’ll never know…

To be honest, it’s hard to dislike this CD or the band. They seemed like bright eyed and eager musicians that tried hard but for reason or another, didn’t grasp the attention they deserved. I guess Sanctus were like the Jamaican bobsled team and will remain a sort of lost bygone Trivial Pursuit answer…and unfortunately a bargain bin find.

But at least they have this respectable recording to remember them by.

 

Comments

  1. Commented by: Juan Pinto

    When you talk about “the passion and conviction these California kids brought to the table” are you aware that a paragraph before you mentioned that the singer looked like a server at Applebees?

    My guess is that it was unintentional but I find it really funny.


  2. Commented by: Rev

    Haha…I think everyone that owns that Lobotomy record has paid ninety-nine cents for it.


  3. Commented by: gordeth

    You got Epidemic – Decameron for 99 cents!!! Want to sell it to me?


  4. Commented by: chemo death

    Metal Blade did nothing to promote this band.


  5. Commented by: roycifer

    nice little write up (esp after all these years)! downloads from our original demo and final ep are avail here: http://sanctusmusic.com.


  6. Commented by: ozzyzak

    November just came up on shuffle and for giggles I thought I would look it up. I’m almost 100% sure I bought this from The End Records way back in the day before I had any time of bank cards. Fun little listen, and sanctusmusic.com is still up!


  7. Commented by: Soren

    Same man. Still shows up when my collection is on random. I remember buying it from a little place in sydney called “Red Eye Records”. I bumped into one of the members on twitter & he was a cool guy. Shame it didn’t get much push, it’s a solid record.


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