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Sancta Sanctorum : The Shining Darkness

Sancta Sanctorum is immensely rooted in the seventies era, but manages to sound fresh and vivid all along.

There are artworks that don’t lie and give you a right hint of things to come. The new Sancta Sanctorum’s album immediately catches the attention: a dancing lady in red and green carries a skull on which a burning candle is fixed; on the background, bright colours explode with two more big skulls and green tentacles. The message is clear: if you don’t like '70s sexy hippy horror, stay away!!

Well, that’s caricatural, okay. The fact is that Sancta Sanctorum is immensely rooted in the uninhibited era of the '70s but, in the same burst of obsolete creativity, they manage to sound fresh and vivid all along. Sancta Sanctorum is the new band of Stefano Silvestri, aka Steve Sylvester, formerly leader of the esoteric Heavy Metal - and later Electro-Glam-Goth band - Death SS. You don’t really never change, and the new project of his is Doom peeping on Stoner and other vintage horror-inspired atmospheres (as the jacket tells).

Sylvester and his support musicians, including Danny Hughes (bass) and Thomas Hand Chaste (Paul Chain, Witchfield - drums), two former Death SS’s members, set up the kind of heavy, relaxed yet tense, dreamy Doom that leaves a deep scar in your psyche. The kind of mark your girlfriend can leave on your body after a feverish night. That is, a lovely one.

All the tracks are very good, some, like ‘The End Is Near’, ‘Nothing Left At All’ or ‘No Expectations’, are truly excellent, which choruses so catchy that you can only sing along them over the second listening. Some are a bit less compact and/or inventive (’Master of Destruction’, with its end that doesn’t seem to finish). The album pushes all Doom boundaries, that’s a fact. Prog Rock has its stamp on most of the song structures – always blessed with that extra gloomy mood that comes right from Sylvester’s tortuous mind. The sound is very organic, the music very lively and colourful. The spacey organ makes a direct connection with band like Hawkwind or Uriah Heep, that’s a powerful and modern mass that Sancta Sanctorum celebrate; Sylvester’s singing is emotionally very intense and he plays his parts with a complete commitment, sinister, passionate, weeping his grief (impressive on ’When Hopes Are All Gone’), shouting his bitter anger with an elegance that shrouds the whole band. The instrumentation is hot and steaming, delivering captivating dark soundscapes.

’The Shining Darkness’ is a modern-vintage Stoner/Doom Rock album, delivering an acid groovy tempest, topped with a charismatic singer. The '70s influence is striking: Sylvester has gathered all his talent and experience, making them flourish in a very smart and nice way. To sum it up, this is mandatory, beyond the usual genre’s dogmas. The modern Italian Doom scene proves once again to be the most inventive and diverse of all. A 2010 highlight, no doubt.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. The End Is Near
2. Black Sun
3. Nothing Left At All
4. Master Of Destruction
5. Desperate Ways
6. When Hopes Are All Gone
7. The Soul Of Truth
8. Bread Of Tears
9. No Expectations
10. When You Die

Duration : Approx. 53 minutes

Visit the Sancta Sanctorum bandpage.

Reviewed on 2010-12-23 by Bertrand Marchal
Forever Autumn
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