Grier walks through swinging double–doors; their rectangular plates and white panels smudged by hundreds of dirty, desperate hands. Along the decades–old, re-waxed checkerboard floors of sun–bleached white and black, the vulnerable Doctor approaches the receptionist’s desk. “The doctor is waiting.” The distinguished Grier makes his way through the buzzer–kept door to the far–end of the faux–marbled hallway. He turns the doorknob to Room 17. Beyond the stuttering fluorescent bulbs overhead, the Doctor finds “Dr.” Landau seated at a walnut–stained desk, just this side of the cherry–red built–in—bookshelves filled with volumes as convincing as the toupee positioned upon Landau’s head. Grier walks to the glossy, chocolate–brown sofa positioned in the middle of the room. He lies back. Landau looks upon the weathered face and sleep–deprived eyes of the patient. He knows well the sickness the patient suffers.
“You have somehow convinced yourself that you suffer from a disease few get and few understand. Would you admit to this diagnosis?”
Grier looks at Landau in confusion and shakes his head in disagreement—the leather sofa shrieking with each jerk of his head.
“No? Do you not recognize the absurdity of your case? Your unfaltering love for a single artist? How is one capable of fairly judging those that resemble said artist? How can you dare review a band with the same kind of unbiased demeanor you show other bands?”
Without a word, Grier stands. He reaches for a bust on Landau’s desk (inscribed with the name “Missy”) and brings it down on the top of the good doctor’s head, over and over again. Cured of his writer’s block, the distinguished Doctor exits the office with a gait of confidence, whistling “Lucy Forever” as he goes.
OK, so I like everything King Diamond ever laid his hands on. I admit it. Who knew when one combines heavy–metal groove with layers of falsettos and a focus on silly stories about nuns, grandmas, and Satanism, that you’d find Grier‘s Kryptonite? This also means bands like Them and In Solitude create a tingling feeling in Grier‘s pants. But it’s Germany’s Attic that causes some serious excitement. And they’ve only gotten better since their 2012 debut, The Invocation. This year’s Sanctimonious finds the vocals stronger, the songwriting fuller, the convent a battlefield, and so much Satan, the Pope might squirm. It’s not only good times; it’s some of the best.
After getting things going with organs and falsettos, Meister Cagliostro and the band drop the hammer with their exquisite title track. This six–minute piece is one of the strongest the band has ever written. Combine the King with Ghost and In Solitude, take some falsettos to soaring heights, add some killer solos, and unleash a chorus to die for, and you’ve got the best track on the record. But, the band doesn’t stop there…
Attic attempts to capitalize on this with “A Serpent in the Pulpit,” “Die Engelmacherin,” and “On Choir Stalls.” These six-to-eight-minute long ditties are stuffed with old–school riffs, variable levels of creepiness and emotion, and some of the sharpest hooks this side of the show Bassmaster. Hell, the choruses alone are worth the spin. Also, each has something the other doesn’t. Beyond the hammering drums and dark lyrics of “A Serpent in the Pulpit,” you’ll find a finale straight off the baggage cars of Dissection‘s Reinkaos. After creepy highs, lows, and sinister whispering, “Die Engelmacherin” dumps you off in an eerie forest pulsing with distant falsettos. And though “The Hound of Heaven” may be the most addictive chorus on the record, “On Choir Stalls” uses its own charging riffs and pre–chorus build one of the best choruses on the disc.
While the tracks mentioned above are so full they almost spill out, “Penalized,” “Sinless,” “Born from Sin,” and “Dark Hosanna” take a stripped–down approach. Unfortunately, some a little too stripped down and not as memorable as others. Just the same, the first three are fun, aggressive pieces. “Sinless” being the better of the lot—with a chorus you’ll hear in your sleep. “Dark Hosanna,” on the other hand, is simple in a different way. With a slower pace, gentler vocals, and some emotional solo–work to support it, this song is the undisputed “ballad” of the record. And one of my favorite songs, too.
As far as Attic records go, this is their best. But, its biggest issue is its length. After nearly fifty minutes of nun–crazed storytelling, my focus begins to waver. Then, I realize there are two more songs to go. And that might be part of the reason I don’t like closer “There Is No God.” It’s also too long and it lacks the punch needed to make our sweet protagonist’s vengeance believable. Just the same, Sanctimonious has a lot of great Fate–Diamond moments and it has the best hooks the band has ever penned. Who said nuns have no fun?