Satan – Life Sentence

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By Gruesome Greg

Hey wait, is this the same Court in the Act Satan from ’83? Not only the same band, but all of the musicians who recorded said cult classic some 30 years ago, to boot! Though they had long moved on to other projects, the European festival circuit brought them back together, as it is known to do, and has resulted in this comeback studio effort. Okay, so it’s not exactly the new Black Sabbath, but it’s good to see these guys are all still alive ‘n kicking, nevertheless.

“Time to Die” gets the album off to a raucous start, some solid mid-paced proto-thrash with clean vocals cutting through the mix of a modern production job, sealing the deal with a wailing falsetto. This doesn’t have that cult-classic “recorded in a basement” feel, but the bright, clean sound of a polished power-metal album—without all the traipsing through the daisies in frilly tunics ‘n shit.

Some curious sounds abound in “Twenty Five Twenty Five,” in which the vocals sound like someone threw the Boston eight-track in the pool overtop a distinctive guitar tone and phrasing that mostly comes in through the left channel. Not your typical loud ‘n proud NWOBHM fare, this one. “Cenotaph” and “Siege Mentality” counter with a more-traditional metal feel (Di’Anno era Iron Maiden, perhaps), albeit with a crisp, modern sheen and at least a couple riffs that are downright thrashtastic. And in a pleasant surprise, “Tears of Blood” seems awfully reminiscent of Blue Oyster Cult, albeit just a little more metal.

As with their celebrated debut, I detect a distinct legal theme here. “Testimony” offers some blazing true-metal riffs that’ll keep any jury on the edge of their seats, complete with catchy chorus, while the title track delivers its harsh verdict through a traditional British (heavy metal) ruling. Common law never sounded so exceptional!

(Listenable Records)

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Life Sentence will be released on Listenable on April 29th.

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.