audiObelisk: Sanctus Bellum Premiere Closing Track from Sophomore Album, The Shining Path

The debut album from Houston, Texas’ Sanctus Bellum, Return to Dust (review here) was rife with references, mostly to the work of H.P. Lovecraft. It was also a tour-de-force of classic metal influences, from the given Sabbath leanings to NWOBHM as represented by Iron Maiden to the dirtier death rock of Danzig, taking darkened atmospherics and setting them against a backdrop of crusty riffing. I haven’t yet heard the whole of the follow-up, The Shining Path, but from what I can tell listening to eight-minute closer “Ephaniah” — which I’m fortunate enough to be able to host for streaming on the player below — the key elements are still there, if a bit more refined.

As one might expect, Sanctus Bellum seem to have more of an idea of their own style the second time out, blending the classic metal guitar of Jan Kimmel and Maurice Eggenschwiler (the latter previously only involved in the live incarnation of the band) with the doomly groove seemingly inherent in Cory Cousins‘ drumming and the wildly diverse bass work of Ben Yaker — one minute, he’s in the pocket with Cousins, but by the middle of the song, he’s leading the charge Steve Harris-style through a faster stretch. Add in some Slayer-type riffing and lead work and the post-grunge vocals of Justin Waggoner (ex-Mr. Plow), who on “Ephaniah” shifts smoothly from shouts to deceptively complex melody lines, and Sanctus Bellum come off as more assured and confident without sacrificing their edge.

I dug the first Sanctus Bellum and I’m looking forward to hearing the second — particularly if the interplay on the rest of the tracks between Kimmel and Eggenschwiler stands up to what I’ve so far heard — and I thought that if you like metal with a flair for the doomed that doesn’t necessarily feel the need to commit to one genre or another, you might also be into it. Check it out and feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts:

[mp3player width=460 height=120 config=fmp_jw_widget_config.xml playlist=sanctus-bellum.xml]

The Shining Path is set for release on June 12 — just in time for Sanctus Bellum to head to Wisconsin to play at Days of the Doomed II. You can preorder it here. If you dig “Ephaniah,” the band has also made the tracks “Spiral Jacobs” and “The Shining Path” available for listening. You can hear them and check out more release info here, and tell the band you dig their stuff at their Thee Facebooks page.

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