Sanhedrin – Lights On Review

Growing up in Christian school, I had to read the Bible a lot, and whenever I came across the name “Sanhedrin,” I always thought it was really cool. The word just sounds badass on its own, and when you combine it with the fact that the Sanhedrin was the Jewish tribunal that cast judgment upon a silent Jesus, sending him on to Pontius Pilate for punishment, it becomes downright metal. Now, I am wholly unfamiliar with Sanhedrin the band aside from remembering that I almost reviewed their 2019 album The Poisoner but ended up not doing so for some reason I can no longer remember. Apparently, the album impressed many, earning Sanhedrin a place on Metal Blade’s roster. This time around, I was bound and determined to not let these New Yorkers slip through my fingers again, so now you get to watch as Judge Holdy hands out his verdict on the band’s third full-length, Lights On. All rise!

Lights On is eight tracks and 41 minutes of classic heavy metal, and finds Sanhedrin hellbent on keeping the fires of ancient heavy metal alive. You’re going to hear Black Sabbath, you’re going to hear Iron Maiden, you’re going to hear some AC/DC, you’re going to bang your head as the sultry rhythms of the band’s hard rock-meets-heavy metal sound washes over you. Opener and single “Correction” reveals that sound, introducing the cool swagger of Jeremy Sosville’s guitar work and the classic voice of singer and bassist Erica Stoltz. The track begins in standard hard rock territory, drops into a bluesy solo, then speeds things up as it races to its conclusion. Stoltz unleashes her snarl towards the end, and the track finishes with the band firing on all cylinders.

And when those cylinders are firing, all is well with Lights On. Whether it’s the hard rock glory—and sing-along chorus exemplifying my personal philosophy on change—of “Change Takes Forever,” the hard-charging Maiden gallup of “Scythian Women,” or the excellent Sabbathian (or Heaven & Hellian) epic doom of “Hero’s End,” Sanhedrin are at their best when going all out. These tracks reveal a band leaning into their strengths and unabashedly kicking ass. Every time I listen to “Hero’s End,” I imagine Dio looking on from beyond the veil, horns up and smiling huge.

So it’s a shame that more of Lights On didn’t follow the example set by those barnburners. Unfortunately, the majority of the remaining tracks reside within the “just fine” category. “Lost at Sea” and “Code Blue” are pretty standard rockers that just lack that oomph that perks you up and makes you take notice, and 7-minute closer “Death Is a Door” is a tedious letdown after the mastery of “Hero’s End”—the track that the album probably should have ended on. Stoltz has a really cool voice, but it would be cool to hear her really let loose more often; when she does, the results are great. Just see standouts “Correction,” “Change Takes Forever,” “Scythian Women,” and “Hero’s End” to see what I’m talking about.

Your milage may vary on this one, but I would have liked Lights On to be a bit more consistent. Nothing here is bad—the highs are high, and the lows are just okay—but the potential exhibited on a track like “Hero’s End” makes the album’s more lackluster cuts difficult to swallow. Sanhedrin has a great core sound, though, so I’ll be excited to see how they rebound from this one. But this time around, I find the defendant “mixed.” Court is adjourned.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Metal Blade Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: March 4th, 2022

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