Celestial Sanctuary – Soul Diminished

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Redefining Darkness Records presents the debut album ‘Soul Diminished‘ of the British death metal band Celestial Sanctuary which was released on March 26th, 2021. In the last decade or so the death metal scene has been overhauled by a newer wave of young musicians and the Cambridge quartet is another result of this rejuvenated trend. Formed in 2019 by Thomas Cronin (guitars, vocals), Jay Rutterford (bass), James Burke (drums) and Matt Adnett (guitars), the band title is taken from the ninth track on ‘The IV Crusade‘ by the legendary British death metal band Bolt ThrowerCelestial Sanctuary isn’t only an old-school replica. The band is keen to offer plenty of classic death metal riffs and catchy rhythm sections. With the cavernous soaked growls and the stomping grooves, the debut is a fine mixture of the U.S. and British mid-tempo vibes. 

While the band’s demo ‘Mass Extinction‘, released two years ago, had already cemented their sound, ‘Soul Diminished‘ injects it with aggressive riffs and organic drums. Despite the assertive tone of the vocals the songs waver back and forth between the slow doomy tempos only to trudge through heavy riffage. The album opener ‘Rid the Gormless‘ takes a vital pace in emphasizing the heavy drum beats. The guitars engage in powerful riffs and focus on aggression. Shifting from repetition to slow tempo is usually followed by an effective rhythm guitar segment. Celestial Sanctuary delineates various influences from bands such as Death, Obituary and Bolt Thrower by conducting the modernist aspects of death metal. 

The opening moments of the title track are conveyed in the slow tempo with the influences of doom metal fused into the song structure. The guitars ooze foul, moldy riffs and they’re prompted by a dose of pummeling drums. Simultaneously, the guitars mix the classic elements of death metal which as usual never fail to deliver some infectious riffs, like on the following track ‘Relentless Savagery‘ where the drums ensure some fast moments. Though each track is seemingly different from the previous, the British quartet gives an authentic old school experience. Preferring to sound ferocious and slow at variable speed, the intensity remains overall unquestioned. 

Soul Diminished‘ is measured by nifty riffs, while most of the songs venture into a slow tempo where the rhythm guitars provide an eerie atmospheric vibe to the backdrop. The album cover art also provides an insight into the music that gets all uncannily sluggish. A track like ‘Wretched Habits‘ is among my favorites on the album. Although the album duration of thirty-seven minutes comes as a satisfying effort from these youngsters, the music takes you slowly into a nineties inspired death/doom trip. The slow pace of the drums and the guitars are quite possessive. However, there are some similarities to the British death metal band Live Burial.

Frankly speaking the songs on the album find their way through stumping tempos. ‘Suffer Your Sentience‘ manifest the excellent work of the guitars. With the constant double kicks of the drums and the stomping riffs setting an infectious tempo the influences to Obituary become clear. ‘Mass Extinction‘ was previously featured on the band’s demo release. It features some catchy grooves and an excellent rhythm guitar section. Bursting into head-banging energetic tempos and organic old-school riffage, this track is an instant classic! ‘Yearn for the Rot‘ brings some slow and atmospheric quality to the heydays and begins with ominous guitar strings in the old classic death metal style. However, ‘Endless Chasm‘ segues smoothly into the ambient outro ‘Formless Entity‘. 

Celestial Sanctuary has successfully managed to release a gripping piece of old-school death metal. The British quartet has brought something exceptional and uncommon in the modern age of death metal. The band may owe homage to the likes of Death and Obituary, but in my opinion, the full-length album is a huge achievement that exceeds the limitation of the stereotype bands. This is definitely among the best albums of the year 2021 and comes as a personal recommendation to fans of the genre. 

Release Date: March 26th, 2021
Label: Redefining Darkness Records
Track list:

  1. Rid the Gormless
  2. Soul Diminished
  3. Relentless Savagery
  4. Suffer Your Sentience
  5. Wretched Habits
  6. Mass Extinction
  7. Yearn for the Rot
  8. Endless Chasm
  9. Formless Entity

REVIEW SCORE

  • Music9/10
  • Vocals/Lyrics 8/10
  • Production/Mix9/10
  • Artwork8/10
  • Originality8/10
8.4'Soul Diminished' is measured by nifty riffs, while most of the songs venture into a slow tempo where the rhythm guitars provide an eerie atmospheric vibe to the backdrop.
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