Brooklyn, New York based traditional heavy metal band Sanhedrin is an unlikely trio with diverse resumes ranging from Erica Stoltz‘ stints in stoner rock band Lost Goat as well as darkwave collective Amber Asylum, to guitarist Jeremy Sosville‘s involvement in more recent relases from Black Anvil. The band’s debut full length ‘A Funeral for the World’ is confidently lead by Stoltz’ epic heavy metal tuned vocals and Mercy (Sweden)-esque doom-tinged guitar work from Sosville but the driving, mid-paced drum performances gives the record it’s core heaviness. Spending their money where it counts the album’s sound is massive with Marston/Boatright treatment giving King Witch‘s most recent album a run for it’s money both sonically and stylistically. As seductively heavy and hard rocking as ‘A Funeral for the World’ can be, it still ends up feeling like a debut album from a band working out how to best channel their live chemistry into a professional recording.
Stoltz‘ vocal range is fairly broad and though she’s not necessarily the most frantic wailer out there, her control is admirable throughout. Her cadence leans a bit more towards classic Dio than Mandy Martillo from Satan’s Hollow but both carry a similar overall tone. Though I referenced King Witch earlier as an all-around comparison the sped up moments of ‘A Funeral for the World’ pull the album away from otherwise sleepy, epic heavy metal pacing that never fully thrashes out; If you’re familiar with Night Viper‘s speed metal-shocked trad metal approach you’ll understand what ballpark Sanhedrin are in. More than anything else I found myself searching for more distinctive guitar work beyond a few standouts and it gives the impression of a band finding their best self on record, but also making sure it sounds right when performed live as a trio.
I suppose when my mind was finally done fawning over the brilliant sound of the recording it’s memorability became a small issue as the songs Sanhedrin completely nail sometimes clash with under-served compositions. I particularly found the duo of “Collateral Damage” and “Faith Healers” to be great songs on their own but placed side-by-side in the middle of the album became too similarly paced. Those 11 minutes just dragged me too far out to sea on repeat listens. Sticking “No Religion” between them might have kept the tracklist from falling fully asleep in the middle. Thankfully heavy metal’s streak of every song with “deceiver” in the title being amazing lives on with “Massive Deceiver” giving ‘A Funeral for the World’ a shake up before the epic doom inspired “Die Trying” closes things out in great taste.
So, I have minimal issues with the track arrangement drooping in the middle but there are far more big moments on Sanhedrin‘s debut than there are flops. “Demoness” has a classic speed metal gallop that slows to a peak and blazes back down the mountain; A great example of how honing in on the simple dynamics of classic heavy metal/hard rock with a couple great riffs can be damn entertaining. “Riding on the Dawn” feels very 80’s US metal and really puts the ‘true metal’ foot forward best, but for my taste “No Religion” and “Massive Deceiver” are equally recommended listening. ‘A Funreal for the World’ isn’t a perfect trad metal album but makes a strong showing throughout.
Ghost winds in a dark night. 3.25/5.0
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