Luna in Sanguinem come from the Illinois/Wisconsin border, but their most famous asset is vocalist, Skip McGullam, who fronted the cult metal band, Num Skull, and appeared on their 1988 masterpiece, Ritually Abused. But this is not a paean to former glories. This is the here and now of drop-tuned savagery and bone-crunching guitar vibrations.
The underground has too many brutal death metal bands ready to use their drum triggers and guitar chugs to obliterate your ear drums. Let’s be honest: blast beats are not as impressive three decades later and rarely blow your head off in the age of Pro Tools. Thankfully, drummer, Patt Maxwell, is reluctant to aim for the speed of light on this record, and we’re better for it. Luna in Sanguinem are a reminder that you can be just as heavy taking classic Obituary and God Hates Us All-era Slayer.
Sometimes you listen to contemporary death metal bands and wonder if the artists ever sat down with a thrash album. No such problem occurs here. The likes of ‘Hunter Killer’ and ‘Perfect Neighbour’ fuse thrash and death metal with ease, often blurring the lines between Kreator and Death. Yet Decapitated are also present on standout track, ‘Angel Wings’, which is an absolute scorcher! McGullam’s vocal enunciation is hostile yet clear in its articulation, like Obituary’s James Tardy employing the hardcore vocal abrasions of Meshuggah’s Jens Kidman. The tempo-change at 03:50 sec will knock you off your chair and force you back up when they surprise you with a gothic metal detour near the end. This is heavier than the horse that trampled English suffragette, Emily Davison, to death at Epsom.
One wonders what the guitarist Mike Eisenhauer said to the studio engineer when laying down his parts. “Make all those decibel bars flash red,” is probably how it went. It’s clear the band wanted to make the earth tremble with the bottom end of the guitar and bass frequencies. ‘Killed by the Dead Hand’ employs a kick drum like a landmine and demonstrates once again the powerful fry screams of Skip McGullam. The bite of the natural harmonics on the riff to ‘Far from the Light’ packs a violent punch like Gojira’s heaviest moments on The Way of All Flesh. You’ll never grow tired of the onslaught.
Nowadays, there are more death metal bands than Covid-19 casualties, but Luna in Sanguinem remind us that the genre can still deliver the goods despite the millions of monotonous bands that hide behind blast beats and typewriter drums.
Release Date: 29/10/2020
Record Label: Self Released
Standout tracks: Hunter Killer, Angel Wings
Suggested Further Listening: Obituary – Slowly We Rot (1989), Slayer – God Hates Us All (2001), Asphyx – God Cries (1996)