UK’s Celestial Sanctuary unload death metal assault that leaves bloodstains on ‘Soul Diminished’

England has had its share of relentless death metal bands that not only have grown fervent fanbases but also have changed the DNA of heavy music as we know it. It’s a lot to live up to, not only by the bands that formed the movement, but also for the ones who have followed in the path. There’s a lot to live up to, and right or wrong, plenty of lofty expectations waiting.

Luckily for Celestial Sanctuary, they have great chops and brutal intensity to answer that bell, which they prove over and over on their debut offering “Soul Diminished.” At nine tracks and a little more than 37 minutes, this is a well portioned and punishing album that immerses them right into the bustling death metal picture with an axe right to the art form’s torso. The band—vocalist/guitarist Thomas Cronin, guitarist Matt Adnett, bassist Jay Rutterford, drummer James Burke—spills intensity, violence, and bloody haymakers into this record that crushes from the first minute to the last. It’s a smashing, guttural collection of tracks that don’t try to rewire the subgenre or anything but just sound really goddamn good coming out of your speakers or headphones. It’s a ripper.

“Rid the Gormless” opens the record with crushing riffs and vicious growls as everything is shredded. The vibe gets nastier as the leads stretch and burn, absolutely smothering you to near unconsciousness. “Soul Diminished” feels ominous as it chugs hard as the growls leave bruising. The bottom end is utterly ugly while the filth is layered on thick, the guitar work grinds, and the track comes to a punishing end.  “Relentless Savagery” trudges hard while the growls mash, and the helping of death is staggering. Guitars well as the growls bore through the ground, bringing bloody hell to the surface and stomping out through the mud. “Wretched Habits” is punchy as well with mangling snarls and vicious growls that later are sliced in half by blunt shrieks, and then speed takes over. A doom haze begins to burn brightly as mean howls flatten, and the track smears insult in your face and mouth.

“Suffer Your Sentience” bleeds in, slowly unfurling as the vocals apply the chokehold. The track is slow driving and brutal, meting out a calculated assault that punishes and adds ample pressure. “Mass Extinction” has a slower pace, but it’s also relentlessly heavy. The drums destroy while the slaughter is served generously, obliterating and bringing on a merciless fury. “Yearn for the Rot” has guitars awakening as the power surges, letting the heat spread liberally. Growls and shrieks mix as the thrashing intensifies, the humidity lingers, and the playing keeps racing until it bleeds out. “Endless Chasm” tears open as the growls rumble, and the guitars show some swagger. The guts are ripped from the song’s belly while the playing mashes and chews, the guitars cut hard, and the thrashing bloodies noses. “Formless Entity” ends the record with chemical noises bubbling and the drums picking up. Weirdness swells as the drumming has a tribal effect, strangeness floods, and the instrumental track dissolves.

Celestial Sanctuary have a rousing and punishing debut with “Soul Diminished,” a record that inserts them into the conversation of new modern death metal bands that should keep the genre blossoming into the future. The record is nicely portioned and furious from front to back, showing their bloodthirsty intensity. This is a great first blast from a band that should be shedding blood for years to come.

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