Colchester may not be at the very centre of metal, it's hardly L.A, Stockholm or Helsinki, but a metal band that emerges from Colchester is just as important as any from the above cities. This is certainly true of Sanctorum who started life as Devolution in 2002. They continued as Devolution for three years until they changed to avoid confusion with another band of the same name. At that moment Sanctorum was born and they self financed the 2004 album 'The Heavens Shall Burn'. It's taken a while but the follow up, 'Ashes Of Redemption', has finally been released through Copro Records and I must admit it is a beast of a recording.

From the opening minute of 'Carved In Stone' you'd be fooled into thinking you were listening to a fully established act with several albums and world tours under their belt. First of all the production is excellent. It's heavy, it's raw and clear without sounding too polished. The bass drum is turned up to the maximum to get the most of the frills and complex rhythms Matt Alston throws at the listener. Secondly, the quality of the riff work is exceptionally high for a relatively unknown group from the U.K. 'Carved In Stone' and 'Sorrow Of Man' both contain ball busting ideas without them sounding too complicated and all over the place. Add these two aspects to a pissed off growl from vocalist/guitarist Aaron Sly (intertwined with the odd clean vocal line) and some sublime lead axe work from Ash Lewis and it all adds up to an experience that borders on metal heaven.

I don't think the band would mind if I said there's a Lamb Of God blueprint mixed with pre Angela Arch Enemy underneath this album. It has the riffage and rhythms of Lamb Of God and the drive and melody of Arch Enemy. 'Against Us All' is a good example of this, it has tempo changes, gang shouting and a killer solo amongst other things. The awesome 'Hope Of Salvation' is a break in the metal assault with its mellow overtones before it builds and kicks, quite satisfactorily I might add, into the upbeat metal ride out. The title track is another piece of class and my opinion did start to turn to 'writing beyond their years'.

I could throw compliments at 'Ashes Of Redemption' all day, I would certainly like to, but I’d rather click the repeat button and listen to this slab of metal again. Sanctorum are a band who not only have the ideas but aren't afraid to add variety and depth to their music. It's not technical by any stretch of the imagination it's just effective songs delivered brilliantly. This is as contemporary as contemporary thrash can be and one of the best albums by an up and coming band I've heard in a long time. If there are any more bands of this calibre in Colchester perhaps we could have our very first Colchester Scene. Here's hoping. Brilliant.