Sanctus is a band with a problem. If you look at the band portraits you'd think this was a prog rock or power metal outfit. In fact, they seem to be the kind of guys you wouldn't mind your daughter (or sister :-) coming home with (well, not too much anyway). That is, until you actually insert the disc and discover that these guys play a brutal kind of black metal with death metal influences. I mean, they sound like they wear Gene Simmons-inspired make-up, exorbitantly articulate rings, black nailpolish and iron-studded leather.

Perhaps it's just my problem, and am I the guy with the prejudices and the tendency to pigeonhole people and musical styles.

Sanctus used to be Pantheon, they renamed themselves, and "Aeon Sky" is their debut. A promising one, too, especially because they got the chance to release it on Metal Blade, not the least of labels.

"Aeon Sky" sounds crisp and clean, with Jason McCrarey's vocals doing some eardrum-slicing of their own. Musically, things are all in order, too. The music lacks a specific appeal, though. Most of the tracks aren't actually memorable. Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth and Emperor haunt my half-dozing dreams with their powerful compositions, but somehow Sanctus doesn't. It's good stuff, but perhaps not good enough. "Odyssey", a song consisting of three parts, is perhaps one of the better tracks. The first section isn't much to write home about, but then they shift up a gear or two and get down to it. The album closer, "Remnants", a superfluous acoustic piano thing with (artificial?) LP ticks/cracks added, manages to leave the listerer with a bit of an unsatisfied feeling.



Written June 2000


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