Many moons ago I had the privilege of seeing Sanktuary open for… I think it was Cauldron? I could be wrong. Regardless, since I thought they were a great live band, I was really excited to have a listen to some of their studio stuff. Unfortunately, I never really followed up on that thought. How excited I was to see a promo for their latest release plunked down in the download folder so I could finally properly explore the output of a band that I was actually thoroughly impressed with.
But did Winter’s Doom live up to my fond memories of seeing the band live?
Yes. Mostly. Actually, Winter’s Doom does some things remarkably well. The band’s mix between more traditional metal and thrash is a heady one, and a headspace that I have spent a lot of my leisure time indulging in. When Sanktuary eases back just a little on the throttle and focuses on galloping riffage and dynamics, they become one of Canada’s best acts playing this style; but when they speed things up for any extended period on songs like “Curse of the Vermin”, they kind of fall off the rails just a little bit into the mundane. They seem to have real trouble making use of the same verve and “hookiness” once the speedometer passes a certain point. So where songs like the opening track “Space Race” or the pounding, bombastic “Corpse Blockade” positively soar with excellence, other moments just feel a little flat.
Despite some minor quibbles, Winter’s Doom is, overall, a solid release. It’s produced fairly well, avoiding being too polished and having a sonic aesthetic that is fairly unique. The songs are generally well constructed and the performances are solid. It’s not mind-blowing, but it is thoroughly enjoyable and definitely worth your time if you’re looking for a new old-school fix.