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Too Short a Career to Make an Impact - 90%

bayern, July 15th, 2017

The Dutch metal scene in the early-90’s branched out into various directions, not so much stylistic though, due to musicians leaving their initial acts to embark on their own careers. First was Rendy Meinhard who left Pestilence which led to the birth of Sacrosanct. Then Meinhard’s partner, the guitarist Michael Cerrone, departed from the Sacrosanct line-up after the debut, and the band under scrutiny here came to life. Other such occurrences included Ard van Bers, the Donor vocalist, who left to found Rhadamantys and Carthago; and another few dropouts from the Sacrosanct line-up who teamed up under the Genetic Wisdom moniker.

Nothing to complain about whatsoever as because of these partings of the ways the field over there got enriched with quite a few talented outfits, all operating within the technical/progressive power/speed/thrash confines, and gave Dutch metal a big push during the uncertain, amorphous 90’s. Cerrone is helped here by another former Sacrosanct member, the bassist Remco Nijkamp who left that act at the same time. The delivery is more deeply immersed in the progressive metal idea with both power and thrash interfering at various stages throughout, but firmly staying within the old school confines all the way. The title-track is an imposing dramatic epicer sticking to epic mid-paced motifs nodding at the 80’s American heritage as reflected on the works of Lethal and early Fates Warning. “Play of Compassion” incorporates more intriguing twisted riffage with echoes of Psychotic Waltz’s first two, and although nothing too dynamic occurs this cut is a sheer winner with the cutting guitars and the abrupt time and tempo shifts. “Chemical Dreams” is even more compelling due to the application of faster-paced configurations which greatly intertwine with the preserved technical riffs from the preceding number; and “Silenced” is nothing like its title thrashing with passion despite the several more officiant heavy rhythms and the short balladic interference.

“Left Meaningless” focuses on said balladic tendencies and turns into a heavy squashing ballad with pounding riffs and a great lead section. “To the Things That Were” notches up the speed with brisk energetic guitars which retain the technical edge in a fine Hexenhaus-esque way; and “Messiah Mask” is a true revelation with the dazzling speedy “skirmishes” those great reminders of the German underground heroes Flaming Anger, the dark atmosphere enhanced by a cool balladic stroke and the excellent lead guitar work. “Slip of the Tongue” slows down again with overt doomy tendencies recalling representatives from the 90’s Swedish progressive power/doom metal wave like Morgana Lefay and Pathos; and “Awakening” elaborates on those doomy echoes turning them into full-fledged pensive progressive reminiscent of Queensryche and Fates Warning again.

The vocalist is a perfect fit with his not very emotional, but steady unwavering clean mid-ranged timbre which he seldom strains above the accepted parametres, but the sombre dark tone of the recording doesn’t exactly require any soprano-like exploits. One was hardly expecting the band to last very long on the scene having in mind the volatile environment and the ever-changing landscape, but at the same time the fans were left with just this opus; the band vanished, and for a long time there were no signs of them under any form until the emergence of Sphere of Souls, a progressive metal outfit who have so far released just one album (“From the Ashes…”, 2006). An appropriately titled affair on all counts, it saw a part of the line-up, without the two Sacrosanct connections, making another short appearance with a style much closer to the conventional progressive metal canons, but still interesting and compelling enough to hook up the fanbase including those who loved this effort here to bits. Momentary, sporadic appearances again and again… peppering the road with one-album-wonders, still leaving the audience with great moments to cherish, even more so due to their passing, ephemeral nature.