"Aeon Sky" (Metal Blade; 2000)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Imagine my surprise when I found out that Sanctus is an American black metal band. We may someday see Sanctus as anachronistic representatives of American black metal - Sanctus is one of the brave few bands in America to foray into this extreme yet still interesting musical art form.

With "Aeon Sky" the metal world at least has evidence that Norwegian symphonic black metal has had an impact on the American black metal scene. Perhaps using Dimmu Borgir as a model for their symphonic parts and straightforward raging black metal a la Enthroned for their speedy parts Sanctus have concocted quite an effort.

A couple of tracks (most notably "Odyssey" and "Thought I Saw Your Wings") add color and depth to the black metal tempest with piano and other classical elements. Equally adept at blasting and symphonic bombast, Sanctus is setting new standards for the American black metal scene.

Sanctus' vocals occasionally sound like Cradle Of Filth (echoing Dani's raspy vocal style), but oddly enough also utilizes gruff growled vocals for added texture. Female vocals courtesy of Sarah Watson makes "If We Fall ..." a worthy track. The lyrics rely heavily on metaphor using earthly and heavenly images to reflect the daily pain and agony of life. 

"Aeon Sky" is basically seven tracks clocking in at nearly fifty minutes; a throwaway piano piece included here adds nothing to the overall package. However, if you like black metal then Sanctus' "Aeon Sky" is well worth your hard earned dollars. 

"Aeon Sky" was produced by Dave Casey and Sanctus; the band's tight approach is augmented well by the above average production. The extravagant mixing proves to separate Sanctus from their black metal comrades. The cover artwork was done by Niklas Sundin of Dark Tranquility.  

Sanctus is Jason McCrarey on lead vocals and guitar, Michael Chi on drums and lead vocals, Royce Hsu on guitar, Adrian Ross on keyboards, and Brent Gibson on bass. Additional personnel includes Sarah Watson on vocals. 

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2000 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.