On album number two, Brooklyn’s Sanhedrin are a band of contradictions. The outward trappings seem like those of a stoutly traditional metal encyclopedia, but there’s a sharper vein of almost gothic melancholy that glitters within. Erica Stoltz steers the trio’s ship on bass and vocals with a brash grittiness that would make Lemmy proud, but the songwriting’s overt simplicity masks a slight progressive touch as the album unfolds. All of this undersells the majesty of The Poisoner, which is precisely this: intensely blue-collar heavy metal played with a genuine fire and fierce realism.
Here you might think of Christian Mistress’s Agony & Opium, or there you might think of Tygers of Pan Tang falling under the spell of The Cure’s Pornography. Hopefully you won’t actually think either of those things, but the range of vintage electricities into which Sanhedrin breathes thrillingly current life is hard to overstate. Some music labors to take the listener into a completely other world through fantastical tales, immersive atmospheres, or performances so well-oiled as to erase the seams of their weaving; Sanhedrin’s labors are all directed towards immanence and the transformative magic of the quotidian struggle. If their songs take you outside of yourself, it’s only to put you in someone else’s broken-in boots and scuffed leather jacket. You can feel the dirt under your nail, the sweat on your brow, the fingers on strings and hands taping a mic cord. The Poisoner is the triumph of putting one foot in front of the other, and then doing it again.
- Dan Obstkrieg, YourLastRites.com