Sanctorium – “The Depths Inside” (2014)

Label: Graviator Records

Review by Vard Aman

I first heard Sanctorium (from St. Petersburg, Russia) when they released their debut self-titled demo in 2006. The song “Harvester and the Rose” had some real potential musically but the recording quality, especially of the vocals, must have made the next door neighbour’s cat want to go AWOL. Fast forward to the present (via their much improved 2008 EP “Gate of Sin”) and Sanctorium have made good on all fronts, and the fruits of their labour can be heard on this, their first full length album, “The Depths Inside”.

Sanctorium play melodic Symphonic Metal, but this is too simplified a term to accurately describe their music. They don’t really fall into any specific category, but instead span many and incorporate many into one: Power Metal, Gothic Metal, Thrash, Death, Doom, and bits and pieces of plenty of others. The vocals are mostly “Beauty and Beast” style featuring Daria‘s operatic vocals and Sergey‘s growls, but there are no shortage of other styles thrown in. Then there are the guest vocalists Max Morton and Anastasia Simanskaya of Radius. There is a choir involved as well (led by Daria Lozinskaya and Max Morton) and a guest violinist, Ekaterina Sapogova. Their musical and lyrical qualities is what brings this band to the fore and what puts this album in a league well above the average. The songwriting is superb and the arrangements and melodies are complex and very well thought out. Lyrically, Sanctorium covers topics from ancient mythology and legends, philosophy, and the works of H.P. Lovecraft; all written in such a way that makes this album worth having just for the lyrics alone. Of course, the lyrics you can simply read on The Metal Archives, but (at the time of writing this) you can buy the album in electronic form from Amazon, iTunes or Bandcamp, and I strongly recommend to anyone who is into this kind of music to do so. It’s well worth it.

The nature of this music means that it takes a few listens to fully appreciate. The first two songs, “1000 Years” and “Dragonqueen” are instantly likable and set the stage for the rest of the album, although after only one listen I struggled to remember the rest of it. I mentioned once before that a good way to listen to albums like this and to fully appreciate them is to listen to them one song at a time initially, and then listen to the whole album from beginning to end when you become a little more familiar with them. There is a lot on this album to appreciate, and the more you listen, the more you’ll notice and appreciate its many intricacies and its many little moments of genius within a greater work of songwriting art. The two songs I mentioned also grow after more listens, and even now that I’m familiar with the entire album I still think that they are the two best songs on the album.

Daria‘s vocals are quite cold, and this is mostly a good thing because overall it suits the kind of music that Sanctorium plays really well; but there are one or two places where I thought that something different would have suited the part of the song in question a little better; or perhaps a few more effects or added harmonies just to blend the vocals into the music a little more – but those places are really few. Also, at the end of the final song the album just ends. I’m sure they could have ended it in a more interesting way than just ending it, considering the nature of the album. …Or maybe that was intentional – a deliberate attempt to create a sensation of a lack of closure perhaps in a “to be continued” kind of way. And there is something about this whole album that leaves the listener with a “to be continued” sensation – as in: “there is a lot more where this came from”. (Note to Sanctorium: I think “Exiled Angel” from “Gate of Sin” deserves to be re-recorded for a future album, it’s a quality song!) Certainly something to look forward to, but in the meantime, “The Depths Inside” is going to be getting a great many more listens from me, that’s for sure!

Rating – 90/100

 

Tracklist

  1. Intro
  2. 1000 Years
  3. Dragonqueen
  4. Alive
  5. Spirit
  6. Maid of Lake
  7. Cancer of Earth
  8. Initiation of Al’Hazred
  9. Silent Cry (Ballade)
  10. Rub Al’Khali
  11. Prayer

 

Line Up

  • Daria Zhukova – Vocals
  • Sergey Muraviev – Vocals
  • Alexander Mutin – Guitar
  • Alexey Sherbak – Guitar
  • Ilya Wilks – Bass
  • Olga Gavrilova – Keyboards
  • Evgeniy Nosov – Drums

 

Links

Facebook * VK * BandCamp