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Corners of Sanctuary – Blood and Steel (Volume 1) Award winner

Corners of Sanctuary
Blood and Steel (Volume 1)
by Leanne Evans at 08 April 2021, 1:52 PM

While a lot of the metal world is busy trying to reinvent the wheel, and some bands are as keen as mustard to create a sub-genre for a sub-genre in their sound, there are metal outfits who simply embrace heavy metal’s glorious past. These super-heroes of the metal world unapologetically grab everything old-school by the balls and denounce any new-fad trends, firmly sticking their middle finger up and say, “Here I am”.  New Wave of Traditional American Heavy Metal band, CORNERS OF SANCTUARY, do just that. They serve up their decisively aggressive new EP, “Blood and Steel (Volume 1)”, with guts, glory and gumption, kicking dirt in your face as they do so and expect you to say, “thank you”. After 10 years on the scene, the Philadelphian heavy metal outfit continue their blinding journey of delivering traditional metal grit, and flair for nailing classic heavy sound, that packs a big fat bloody punch.

“Blood and Steel” isn’t just a notch up on the heavy-o-metre compared to CORNERS OF SANCTUARY’s last release, the album “Heroes Never Die”; no, these guys serve up sound as heavy as an anvil hitting the floor in meteoric proportions. “Calling a New Day” bounds in with a tonne weight strapped to its chest with thrash undertones almost akin to MEGADEATH, whilst still sounding heavily ACCEPT. There are no apologies for amping up the sound, opting for overt aggression of Mad T’s double bass drumming, almost sounding like bullets being discharged, James’ rumbling melodic bass line and gritty rasped vocals from Frankie. It’s a real call to arms piece that paves the way perfectly for “In the Heat of the Fight”; this track is pure testosterone fuelled aggression, especially with the guitar chugs and vocals spat out venomously. It spews out addictive hostility and the soaring riffing from Mick towards the latter part of the track adds to the atmospheric tension. Overall, a real fistful of fight song.

Throughout the EP, the duration of which is a teasing 10 minutes and 51 seconds, the tracks merge seamlessly one into the next, creating a gripping narrative. “We All Shall Fall” is most definitely a continuation of “In the Heat of the Fight”. The intro kicks in with meaty guitar work and the lyrics are spouted with rousing certitude, imploring you to “go back into the fight, giving it all”. As the track progresses, the dissonance in the backing vocals and pained resigned tone of the cries of “we all shall fall” show a different outcome. Fittingly, everything is dialled down for the final track of “Blood and Steel” with CORNERS OF SANCTUARY showcasing their more pensive and hopeful facets through lilting riffs, a softened drum rhythm and spoken words of reflection and light at the end of the tunnel. One can’t help but consider the hints of the tumultuous 12 months we’ve had within all the tracks and the battleground it’s become with that ray of sunshine – hopefully – at the “end” of these trying times.

CORNERS OF SANCTUARY certainly know how to pack a punch and “Blood and Steel” is a belting teaser of a three-volume edition, with subsequent EP’s due to be released later this year. Rammed with technical virtuosity, yet an infectiously impactful simplistic structure to each track, “Blood and Steel” thematically delivers strength, hope and a metaphorical fight. Much like the rest of the world, the guys had a tough 2020, especially since they lost two former band mates last year. They wanted to create a composition that could mark CORNERS OF SANCTUARY’s 10th anniversary, and equally honour their friends with a fitting tribute. In Mick’s words, “the EP is a symbolic celebration of not only about what we have gained over the last 10 years, but also what we have lost”. To me, the rawness of the delivery in each track conveys EXACTLY what the band intended on achieving and “Blood and Steel” leaves its mark on the listener, craving more of this distinctively delightful brooding heaviness. The novel approach of drip-feeding listeners with EP’s is something a lot of bands are now adopting, especially given the lack of live performances in more recent times, as a means of keeping fans interested and on their toes. In the case of CORNERS OF SANCTUARY, this will work perfectly with the “Blood and Steel” series… I’m already excited and contemplating what the next instalment will bring, and I’m pretty sure you will be, too.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Calling a New Day
2. In the Heat of the Fight
3. We All Shall Fall
4. A Fitting End
Frankie Cross – Vocals
Mad T – Drums
Mick Michaels – Guitars and Keyboards
James Pera – Bass
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 11 April 2021

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