Insatiable Thirst For Torment

Church Road
rating icon 9 / 10

Track listing:

01. Trapped Within The Rank Membrane
02. Glutted With Chunder
03. Swivel Eyed and& Gurning in the Shadows
04. Meandering Stream of Foul Fluid
05. Biomineralization (Cell Death)
06. The Lurid Glow of a Dead, Burning Body
07. Unquenchable Thirst…
08. Gutted with a Blunt Blade

If you're a devoted fan of death metal and haven't been living under a rock for the last few years, you will have noticed that there are an absurd number of genuinely great new death metal bands pumping fresh blood into the genre. Not, of course, that death metal really needs the help — the old-school legends are nearly all still out there and on great form — but for students of this stuff, the current surge of fresh, deathly talent has made the scene as exciting as it's been at any time since the early '90s.

In the UK, CELESTIAL SANCTUARY lead the charge, alongside a grotesque array of like-minded miscreants like COFFIN MULCH, VACUOUS and MUTAGENIC HOST, and "Insatiable Thirst For Torment" is a self-evident big deal as a result. The band's first album, "Soul Diminished", was an impressive opening salvo, and showcased a subtly distinctive blend of brutal styles. Since its release, the death metal floodgates have truly opened and bands like UNDEATH and FROZEN SOUL have deservedly received levels of attention that have traditionally been rare for music this extreme. The UK's most credible contenders for comparable infamy, CELESTIAL SANCTUARY's second full-length seeks to confirm that their swiftly earned UKDM standard bearer status was no accident.

First and foremost, this is a disgustingly heavy record. They wear their allegiance to old-school death metal lightly, but CELESTIAL SANCTUARY reveal plenty in the way their music sounds here. Guitar tones are thick and abrasive, drums clatter and thump with little modern interference, forming an unstoppable torrent of poisonous sludge. Frontman Thomas Cronin's vocals are raw, unpredictable and belched straight from the gut. Within seconds of opener "Trapped Within The Rank Membrane" kicking off, it's obvious that CELESTIAL SANCTUARY have upped their game and become far more individual in the process.

"Insatiable Thirst For Torment" oozes gruesome authority from the start, and every song delivers on that promise. "Trapped…" boasts an imperious opening riff, an exhilarating descent into blasting oblivion, and a rousing, dissonant chorus that disintegrates into a pummeling, blank-eyed march into Hell. "Glutted With Chunder" flails foully before settling on a grinding, mid-paced gait dripping with evil, vomit-sodden intent, creaking under the weight of its many, ingenious, angular riffs. "Swivel Eyed and Gurning In The Shadows" deserves a medal for its title alone, but this is CELESTIAL SANCTUARY at their full-pelt best: an excoriating maze of riffs, with jarring bursts of speed, a haughty, sledgehammer stomp and a slow-motion cascade of morbid doom all conspiring to inflict damage. Even darker and sicker is "Meandering Stream of Foul Fluid", which revels in the Devil's discord, slithering along like a malevolent bulldozer, with ghost guitars whistling in the background.

The superior filth continues until the bitter, bloody end. "Biomineralization (Cell Death)" echoes the imperious churn of '90s MORBID ANGEL, but uglier, nastier and rooted firmly in the twisted truths of the real world; recent single "The Lurid Glow of a Dead, Burning Body" is another murderous standout, wherein CELESTIAL SANCTUARY weave out-and-out, infernal insanity and cold, barbaric pomp together; "Unquenchable Thirst…" is one part death / doom assault, to two parts pitch-black chug-fest, and the album's most perversely accessible moment, despite its oppressive, spiteful vibe; a parting shot for the ages, the fast and frenzied "Gutted With A Blunt Blade" is just fucking wild.

Here we have a band with everything going for them. "Insatiable Thirst For Torment" is old-school death metal, fully rejuvenated, right down to James Bousema's magnificent cover art. Up there with the best that the genre has to offer in 2023, CELESTIAL SANCTUARY have birthed a monster.

Author: Dom Lawson
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