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Wednesday 1 March 2017

Reviews: Sanctuary, Scars Of Tears, Rest In Me

Sanctuary: Inception (Century Media)

You probably know the name Sanctuary, they released two albums of complex thrash/power metal in 1988 and 1990 and then disbanded with frontman Warrel Dane going on to form Nevermore with Jeff Loomis, Nevermore was probably the more successful of the two bands darker, heavier and more progressive of the two groups this too came to an end, so Dane went back to his previous group and released their excellent third record in 2014, the sound was a mix of the early Sanctuary thrash with high shrieking vocals and the darker Nevermore touches it was a triumphant come back and they have followed it up with Inception this is more of a retrospective release as the songs on this record were all written and originally recorded as a demo prequel to their 1988 debut Refuge Denied, but the album was lost. It was on the back of this that they caught the attention of Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine who produced their debut. Thankfully the songs have been found, and are now presented on this record in a remixed and remastered form, thus the title of Inception as these songs mark the foundation of the band back in 1986. Six of the tracks on this record went on to become part of Refuge Denied so it's great to hear them in this remastered setting, as the modern production allows them to really carry some weight. Tracks such as Battle AngelsDie For My Sins and Soldiers Of Steel are all as good as they were on the debut but as I've said they just seem a bit more modern due to the production, although the cover of White Rabbit is still as weird. Newer/older/unreleased songs like Dream Of Incubus and Death Rider/Third War are also very good indeed showing that the band really had a flair for writing quality speed metal. For anyone that was missing the thrash sounds of Sanctuary's first period then Inception will see you grabbing for the high tops and leathers, manic, furious thrash the way it's supposed to be. 8/10

Scars Of Tears: Just Dust (Sliptrick Records)

Hailing from the picturesque principality of Kastoria in Northern Greece, Scars Of Tears have scored a major coup by being signed American label Sliptrick Records. Now they are a female fronted band but they do a lot to separate themselves from the literal hundreds of female fronted bands around at the moment by having dual vocals with male and female both shining especially on the excellent Icefall. Also they stand out from the crowd by mixing up their musical styles throughout this their second record. Ranging from bouncing electro Goth rock riffs (Infeasible), to groove-laden modern metal on Need To Fight. They bring the symphonic tendencies on Slayer, Rammstein-like industrial stomps such as Here And NowAshes Of Draw is particularly proggy building on the powerful bass from Salagiannis Thanasis who gels with Polyzos Christos and they also do well with slow-trudging doom the funeral solemness in place on Love And Soul. The tracks with the Paradise Lost-like misery and really give Babis Stefanidis mournful vocals a chance to shine, like Nick Holmes is equally adept at booming cleans and harsher tones while also playing guitar along with Petros Nikolaou. Adding layer of sweetness and melody to the proceedings are the harmonies of Charitini Anastasiadou who as co-lead vocalist gels as the angel to Babis' demon, her voice rings clear similar and has unique phrasing and large range. Just Dust does a great job of showing how talented this band are, there is some excellent sonic experimentation on this record and the atmospheric metal band are great if you like Paradise Lost and Katatonia as much as you like Lacuna Coil and Within Temptation Just Dust might well be worth your time. 8/10

Rest In Me: Alia (Self Released)

Rest In Me are and Oriental Metal band with members from Portugal, Algeria and France, this demo sees them attempting a similar style of music to that of Orphaned Land as the metallic backing is complimented by the Arabic lyrics. For a demo it is surprisingly well produced with the guitars and bass of Rodrigo Loura├žo ringing out clearly not overshadowing the drums of Eric Chaves, they have multi-layered sounds Samah Ya Ain especially in the vocals of Rim Bouali who has a haunting folk-like chant to her lyrics. El Hawa Doul Al Oussoud starts the record with a massive doom-laden riffs, while Ya Badr El Boudour has more clean melodic guitar lines. So much of this record is similar to Orphaned Land as the metal fuses with the North African styles so well, it is a record that is inspired from Andalusian culture and poetry and this passion for their culture shines through. Despite the lack of English, it is not needed as these songs have an emotive power all by themselves, they draw you in from the first moments you are hooked, the most effective piece being Aziz Aliya which is just Rim's vocals paired with an ominous pulsating background, it's dark, dramatic, moody and hints at the experimentation that could be seen on their debut album due soon. Aina is a strong demo that shows what Rest In Me are capable of, I for one am anticipating the debut. 7/10

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