|Review: Celestial Sanctuary - Soul Diminished|
Label: Redefining Darkness Records
Year released: 2021
Genre: Death Metal
Review online: April 11, 2021
Reviewed by: Micah.Ram
Rated 3.5/5 (70%) (2 Votes)
Celestial Sanctuary are a new band on the block, formed in 2019. Following a fairly well-received demo in 2019, Soul Diminished is the debut full-length from the Death Metal outfit. Despite being fairly new to the scene, there has been a noticeable buzz about the album since its recent release, which partly influenced my decision to check it out along with a quick glance at that unique artwork. Let's see what's in this album.
Soul Diminished is a Death Metal album with a strong Doom element, as its nine tracks all have a slow pace driving them. Within multiple songs they do switch gears and go for semi-fast paces, but the majority of the album is slow to mid-tempo Death Metal with low, thick knuckle-dragging riffs driving the action. The drumming is fairly simple at times, but surprises at times with clever fills that sporadically catch you off guard. The vocals are echoey, giving off that cavernous Death Metal vibe that is becoming quite the trend in the subgenre with a band like Tomb Mold leading the way. Personally, I think that trend was cool but now it is a bit overdone. Where this differs from Tomb Mold, however, is that Celestial Sanctuary's music is nowhere near as dense or busy as that of Tomb Mold. Despite my growing tired of this vocal trend, I'll admit that these vocals do sound quite fitting here and are used effectively.
The album's greatest strength is in some way its greatest weakness as I see it. The reason I feel that way is that the band sounds most proficient in their slower moments when they simplify the action and really prove their mastery of time and space in composition, as well as their reliance on hypnotic and repeated riffs which are sometimes fairly catchy. While this is often performed with somewhat stunning results in some instances, most noticeably when going from faster paces to suddenly dropping off to slow half-time stomps with noticeable space and decay between drum beats it really does nothing all that special outside of that. The experience tends to fall a bit flat quite often, as there is not really much going on in many sections of many songs. This should not take away from the fact that they're very excellent at what they're doing here, but what I really want to say is that the band show that they have the chops to go even further. There are no real guitar solos on this whole album unless you count the two or three brief lead guitar moments that truly display something interesting but are sadly quite low in the mix and are somewhat easy to miss.
For their debut album, Celestial Sanctuary have come out swinging with a heavy offering which they executed effectively utilizing their own unique strengths. The songwriting here is a bit bland in many areas, but the sound of the record is rather high quality. This is a band to keep an eye on for future efforts, for if they can diversify their sound more with perhaps more guitar solos, more varied songwriting and riff varieties, and more experimentation with tempos, their next effort might just slay the competition.
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