After straddling the line between doom and classic metal on 2017’s A Funeral for the World, Sanhedrin has seemingly settled for the latter on their second full-length The Poisoner. Remnants of the former can still be found on the occasional slower tempos and darkly rustic atmosphere, but the driving guitar gallops and cutting vocals have clearly taken greater precedence. There’s even a bit of speed metal afoot as the bookending guitar blazes on “The Getaway” seem to be lifted straight out of Sanctuary’s “Battle Angels!”
There’s still plenty of varied songwriting to be found though. The album is at its best during the longer songs though each offers its own flavor as the opening “Meditation (All My Gods are Gone)” is mid-tempo epic metal fare, the title track opts for a moodier direction, and “In from the Outside” has an atmospheric makeover. The shorter tracks also make the most of their runtimes with “Wind on the Storm” in particular putting in a strong hook. I also enjoy the Orange Goblin vibes on “For the Wicked” to the point where I can vividly imagine Ben Ward gravelling along to it.
The musicianship is also rock solid, possessing a gritty attitude that perfectly suits the different styles on display. The guitar gets a hefty boost while still keeping an organic tone, the bass can always be felt despite not putting in the flashiest playing out there, and the drums provide a steady foundation that isn’t too technical nor too basic. The androgynous Dickinson-inspired style may make the vocals an acquired taste for some, but you can’t say that they don’t fit.
Overall, Sanhedrin successfully sustains their momentum on their second full-length album. The Poisoner is probably on the same high-quality level of A Funeral For the World, but its more refined style may give it an edge for more old school-minded metal fans. Its grounded approach may make it easier to overlook compared to the flashier traditional metal revivalists out there, but Sanhedrin deserves every bit of your attention.
“Meditation (All My Gods are Gone)”
“Wind on the Storm”
“In from the Outside”