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Reviews » Retro review: Sancrosanct "Truth Is What Is" (1989)
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  • When Randy Meinhard left Pestilence after the release of their debut, it was because he wanted to pursue a more technical thrash direction whilst the rest of the band wished to continue down the death metal path. In months, his new band was making waves and produced a demo which later led to the making of this recording. Unfortunately, it was mostly ignored, but it's not hard to see why. Released just after thrash metal peaked as a genre, "Truth Is What Is" was swamped in a quagmire of mediocre releases coming out as late-breaking bands all tried making their mark in a scene where most of the genre's pioneers had already hit their creative zenith a few years before. Death metal was starting to take over as the de facto extreme genre in heavy metal as a whole, and any thrash band presenting a certain aspect of their music as a selling point needed to be damned sure that aspect was strong enough to push the rest of the band's sound if they had any hope of making a name for themselves based on that factor alone.

    Since Sacrosanct's debut was indeed more technical than Randy's work in Pestilence, but not so technical that it competed with the likes of wizards such as Coroner, Deathrow, Vendetta, or even Dark Angel, it seems a bit like a failed promise when regarded in a light that takes into account the circumstances surrounding the band's creation. What the listener gets here is a clean, yet flat-sounding record full of noodling riffs and slightly off time changes that sound progressive in a playful sense, yet come across as wholly uncommitted to the task at hand. When they are interspersed with mediocre soloing and fronted by bland vocals that alternate between tone-deaf cajoling and pseudo-growls, the music takes a further step back in memorability. The listener struggles just to "get into" what little songwriting is actually wrapped around such a dichotomy of pretentious showmanship and half-executed ideas. The music in itself is not so bad as this description makes it sound, but one could find much more impressive work already released in this vein by 1990 in both the thrash and death metal genres.

    The final verdict on this one is better than average for the genre as a whole, but not the album one will be returning to for repeat listens, other than to completely soak in the music for a review as such, and certainly not breaking any new ground or doing anything that hadn't already been done better by 1990. Perhaps a thicker or dirtier production could have given the melody and twisting rhythms here the boost they needed to stick in the brain, but it's a dry experience as-is and gives nothing more than a mildly forgettable experience from an also-ran band. One could certainly do worse, and the band would only get more interesting as they diversified in releases to come, but "Truth Is What Is" proves that technical prowess alone isn't enough unless applied with proper direction and presentation.
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    great review thanks
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