For Fans Of
If there’s any label at the forefront of the third wave of metalcore (that’s right; you heard it first here, folks) we’re currently smack-bang in the middle of, it’s Pure Noise Records. A quick, cursory glance of the label’s roster provides a veritable ‘who’s who’ of peak U.S. metalcore acts: Kentuckian “arf arf” aficionados Knocked Loose (their new album rips and so does this cover of The Warriors); the anime-loving Seeyouspacecowboy; Delaware bruisers Year of the Knife; Nashville’s finest Chamber (check out their new EP and get a load of that Coal Chamber-esque logo font); West Virginia’s Left Behind; and the Midwest straight-edge fury of Inclination (pure 90s Unbroken worship featuring Knocked Loose guitarist, Isaac Hale). Not to mention other legacy staples like First Blood and the mighty Counterparts.
A very welcome addition to that list is Long Island’s Sanction, who signed to the label after the release of their 2017 EP, ‘The Infringement of God’s Plan’ (repackaged and re-released by Pure Noise as their debut album in 2018). When KYS covered the release last year, our illustrious editor-king, Alex Sievers, described the band as having “a violent and frantic mosh-heavy sound,” with intentionally raw production, dissonant metalcore riffs, ravenous screams, crushing breakdowns and that bongo-drum-tight snare tone. On new full-length, ‘Broken In Refraction’, we find all of that and more, as Sanction double-down on the violence and that hectic mosh-factor for their highly-anticipated follow-up.
On first listen, it becomes immediately apparent that ‘Broken In Refraction’ is both a direct thematic continuation of and musical evolution from ‘The Infringement of God’s Plan’. Whereas their previous release was divided into sequential ‘Fraction(s)’, ‘Broken In Refraction’ kicks right into gear with ‘The Final Fraction’: a concussive, two-minute sledgehammer purposefully designed to beat the listener down into total submission. On lead singles ‘Radial Lacerations’ and ‘Paralysis’, Sanction push their sound to its logical extremes: the former slicing and dicing with buzz-saw riffage from guitarists Mike Marino and Andrew ‘Lumpy’ Wojcik, pitched against frontman David Blom’s larynx shredding vocals; whilst the latter combines death metal fret exploration with devastating, pneumatic beat-down sections that evoke very real feelings of utter helplessness.
While shorter cuts like the explosive ‘Mirror Syndrome’ keep the pace of the record intense and blistering, by the time we move from Side A to B, it does start to feel a little like a case of diminishing returns. Brief hints of melody do shine through the murk and grime during ‘Conscious In A Coma’, however, taken as a whole, ‘Broken In Refraction’ has its fair share of nostalgic tendencies when it comes to re-contextualising its metalcore, hardcore and death metal influences. Just maybe a little too much. Book-ended by two instrumentals, both tracks feature heavily pitch-shifted vocal samples soaked in a wash of haze and static. This effect pops up again towards the end of ‘Shattering Man’ and also in ‘Paralysis’, of which the latter includes the beeping of hospital machinery mid-song. Another variation on this theme occurs during ‘Infants In Plastic’ through the belaboured last-gasp of a respirator, sounding like something you’d expect on a 2005 MySpace profile demo. For an album that jams 11 tracks into a less than 25-minute run time, it’s a little disappointing to find so much time here devoted to well-worn (read: gimmicky) genre tropes rather than actual new ideas.
In an interview with Canada’s Exclaim magazine, prior to the release of ‘Broken In Refraction’, Andrew Wojcik discusses their mission statement as a band: “Mosh parts are the only thing that matter. If you can’t write a mosh part, it doesn’t really matter. You just need good mosh parts. It is just the truth.” Even taking that statement as said in jest, I’ll admit that the man definitely has a point here! If we take Sanction’s second album purely on its merits and outright heaviness, then the cool mosh parts on offer here are heavier than swinging a bag of bricks deep in the pit. However, that being said, it’s perhaps not enough to only have good mosh parts, especially when contemporaries like Vein and Knocked Loose are doing fresh and interesting things within the genre while still activating the pit to an extreme, violent degree. Unfortunately, what ‘Broken In Refraction’ lacks is memorable and distinctive songwriting, as well as longevity and real replay value, outside of a few new dissonant metalcore bangers to energise your next gym playlist.
- …An Empty Thought
- The Final Fraction
- Answers From A Syringe
- Radial Lacerations
- Mirror Syndrome
- Conscious In A Coma
- Infants In Plastic
- Shattering Man
‘Broken In Refraction’ is out now via Pure Noise Records. It’s clear that Sanction is a band that needs to be experienced live, as you can see below: