Album review: Celestial Sanctuary – Soul Diminished

Cambridge death metallers Celestial Sanctuary darken the skies on savage debut Soul Diminished…

The name Celestial Sanctuary brings to mind heavenly comforts, or at least the sound of a Christian prog-rock band. Mind you, it’s also the title of a track on The IVth Crusade, the 1992 album by seminal UK death-dealers Bolt Thrower, and that’s rather more of a clue towards the ferocious racket these newcomers kick up on this distinctly dirt-encrusted debut. The Cambridge quartet seem determined to drag their hometown’s cultured reputation into the gutter through the medium of primal, straight-ahead death metal. Opener Rid The Gormless establishes their dedication to blasting bloodthirsty noise with an instantly old school flavour, while the hostile churn of Relentless Savagery ensures its title is no idle threat.

The mid-paced intros to tunes like the title track and Wretched Habits are possessed of a satisfyingly flesh-creeping classicism that lands somewhere between Slayer and Obituary, demonstrating a command of their arsenal that goes some way to justifying Celestial Sanctuary’s self-proclaimed status as flag-bearers for The New Wave Of British Death Metal. Soul Diminished is certainly one of the most immediately impressive records to emerge from the UK’s oft-overlooked homegrown scene. Whether dealing in memorable stomps like Suffer Your Sentience or the largely downbeat moodiness of Yearn For The Rot, there’s a confidence here that makes it hard to fathom that they only formed in late 2019

With a lyrical focus on humanity’s unfortunate tendency to cause death and devastation, there’s also more going on conceptually than mindless gore or hackneyed horror movie schtick. As the eerily experimental instrumental Formless Entity brings Soul Diminished to a close, it’s impossible to avoid being very excited about the future of this remarkable new band.

Verdict: 4/5

For Fans Of: Obituary, Gatecreeper, Bolt Thrower

Soul Diminished is released on March 26 via Church Road.

READ THIS: The 15 greatest death metal albums of the 90s

Posted on March 24th 2021, 2:00p.m.
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