"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Sonic Altar - "No Sacrifice" (CD)

Sonic Altar - "No Sacrifice" CD cover image

"No Sacrifice" track listing:

1. Tears For The Fallen
2. Window Of Time
3. The Guardian
4. Deserts Of Despair
5. In The Night
6. Mercy
7. The Shadow
8. A Year In The Flames
9. Holy Suicide
10. Welcome To The Dream
11. The Underground
12. Children Of The Lost

Reviewed by on October 22, 2010

"Did I say the production was amazing? I did? Well it is."

A good kiwi metal band you say? One that isn't death metal you scoff? Oh how I would have said the same thing recently, fair reader, and the idea of a decent power/heavy metal band popping up under my nose without me knowing would have surprised me too. Paint me surprised, as today I am reviewing Auckland lads Sonic Altar's debut album “No Sacrifice.”

Lets get to it. If I was lazy I could basically describe “No Sacrifice” as Maiden, "Black Album" Metallica and Symphony X (maybe a little Poison for kicks) put in a blender and switched on until you don't know Lars' face from Bruce's foot. “Wow,” you say subconsciously, “that must mean this is a killer album, right man..?” Well mind of reader, unfortunately it's not that simple. In the process of emulating a lot of bands, there is always an amalgamation process that ultimately turns this mix a shade of generic. In short, “No Sacrifice” isn't the most original album that's passed through my ears; it's rock/metal with a power metal twist.

And yet, there are several points about this debut that yank it right back into contention. Vocalist Kane Bennett has put down a fantastic effort with mid ranged operatic clean vocals, which are one of the definite highlights of the album. Also slick is the production, which is a huge bonus for power/heavy bands like Sonic Altar, emphasizing the super classy solos and riffing which which can all be best described as very well done. I find it hard to fault the musicianship or any part of the performance here. There's not a single song out of the 12 on this release that isn't professional and a little catchy. Did I say the production was amazing? I did? Well it is.

I mentioned before, however, Metallica's “Black Album” - not because I'm lazy and can't think of an underground band to throw in there, but because that album is one of the best examples of what you might call “mid-paced rock/metal.” Mid-paced is the key word here and probably why I'm not gushing my lips off about a homegrown wonder. Perhaps I've listened to too much Blind Guardian, perhaps slam death has warped my view of what counts as fast these days, but for what ever reason, the fact is that all of the songs stick to a very mid paced vibe, which strikes me as a lack of dynamics after several similar sounding tracks.

However, just like you can't really fault a band like Mortician for not having enough dynamics because, well that's what they do, Sonic Altar does what they do well. They probably won't convert any diehard power metal fans, but there's a potentially big fan base for the average classic metal head.

Highs: Does the phrase rock/metal get you hard? Buy this album, with a straight face I can say it's very well done.

Lows: Warp drive power metal or ten tonne hammer this is not.

Bottom line: An all round very impressive debut and bound to please metal and rock fans alike.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)