Sanctorium – Ornaments

Album Review By Rainer Kerber

Sanctorium are at home in one of the largest cities in Russia, Saint Petersburg. The band was founded in 2005 by guitarist Victor and drummer Andrey. Both have left the band in the meantime. The only remaining band member from the early days is singer Daria Zhukova. It is thanks to her that the band still exists fifteen years later. Two albums, an EP and several singles have been released so far. A crowdfunding campaign was started for the third album “Ornaments”. However, this was not as successful as expected. Therefore, the production took longer. The album was released a little later than planned.

As you would expect from such a monumental work, the first CD starts with an intro. But wait, that it is true only partially. “Protoxidation” is an overture in the classical sense, choruses and large orchestra lead to the first song “Me The Space Between Us”. And this starts with powerful guitars and double bass attacks. Singer Daria Zhukova is not one of the usual opera sopranos. Sure, she also masters the higher tone ranges cleanly. But your comfort zone is obviously a bit deeper. And bandmate Pavel Kozhuchovskiy brings harsh but melodic growls. You don’t hear the typical “Beauty and the Beast” interplay here. For this, a brilliant guitar solo is played. In the catchy “No More Pain”, enriched with a lot of e-piano, you can hear Daria in a duet with clean male vocals (Andrey Romanov), but you don’t have to do without the growls either. At the end of the first CD, the metal anthem “As The Snowflakes We Melt …” is heard. At first very ballad-like with a subtle string insert, later it becomes more powerful. With epic choruses and beautiful guitar hooks.

The listener can expect some surprises on the second CD. The opener “The Knight And Lady’s Honor” is introduced by harpsichord sounds and rhythmic drums. Otherwise, many classical instruments (as samples?) can be heard here. One is reminded a little of Russian folklore. Here is a classic metal song, in which the double bass drives ( “Mokosh”). With “Tonn Chliodhna”, a power ballad has found its way onto the album. An absolute highlight for me is the instrumental “Siberia’s Calling”. With this song deeply rooted in Russian folklore you can clearly feel the vastness of this huge country. Folkloristic elements are also used in “Shadow Of Blades” and “The Song of Bograd”. Piano, strings and flutes can be heard again and again. And the first bonus track “Эй, Ухнем” (in English as much as “yo, heave-ho!”) is once again outstanding. Here the well-known traditional Russian “Song of the Volga Boatmen” was reinterpreted as a metal song. For me it is much more than just a bonus. In the version of the double album before me, the bonus song “Asagao” intended for the Japanese market concludes.

The first CD sounds more like a normal symphonic metal album. The Petersburgers are already operating at a very high level. Without excessive bombast, seven excellent metal songs can be heard here. Which live mainly from the three vocalists. In addition, an excellent job by the instrumental section. But after hearing the second CD I am speechless again and again. This symbiosis of metal, symphonic and Russian folklore is unique. This is where comparisons to the compatriots Arkona come to my mind, although they sound less symphonic but harder. Sanctorium have published a true masterpiece here.

SANCTORIUM – The Arcane Way:


Daria Zhukova (Eirene) – Vocals
Pavel Kozhuchovskiy – Extreme Vocals
Alexey Shcherbak – Guitars
Alexandr Mutin – Guitars
Olga Gavrilova – Keyboards
Ilya Wilks – Bass
Evgeniy Nosov – Drums

Andrey Romanov – Clean Vocals

Label: Self released

Out: March 03rd, 2020

Playing time: 32:23 / 46:52

Track list:

Disc 1

  • Protoxidation (Ouverture)
  • Me The Space Between Us
  • No More Pain
  • The Arcane Way
  • Autumn Elegy
  • Libria
  • As The Snowflakes We Melt…

Disc 2

  • The Knight And Lady’s Honor
  • Mokosh
  • Night Of Ivan Kupala
  • Tonn Chliodhna
  • Siberia’s Calling (instrumental)
  • Shadow Of Blades
  • The Song of Bograd
  • Эй, Ухнем (bonus)
  • Asagao (Japanese bonus track)

Rating : 9/10

MHF Magazine/Rainer Kerber


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