Even before the release of their debut album, Road to Bloodshed, Asheville, NC metal quartet Sanctity earned respect and recognition from two generations of heavy metal royalty. First, Trivium frontman Matthew K. Heafy saw Sanctity and was so blown-away that he helped get them a record deal. Then, Megadeth's Dave Mustaine caught Sanctity's performance during a show with DragonForce and immediately offered them a vaunted spot on the second outing of his Gigantour festival. "He came backstage and asked us personally to do the show," drummer Jeremy London recalls. "That was such a huge honor because we all love Megadeth and Dave has been one of our idols all of our lives."
It's easy to see why the top names in metal are going to bat for Sanctity. Road to Bloodshed, the band's debut, is a blistering blend of technical thrash and old-school metal powered with plenty of attitude and grit. Filled with steely, staccato guitars, trampling beats and roaring vocals, the songs marry complex arrangements and musicianship with granite-heavy grooves and unforgettable hooks. "We all grew up listening to Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Pantera, and no one's really playing music in that classic thrash style anymore," London says. "But at the same time, we like to write songs that aren't dated and will stand the test of time." In an increasingly lethargic music scene, Road to Bloodshed is a shot of adrenaline and a bold etching in the pages of metal history. Fan-favorites "Beneath The Machine" and "Zeppo" feature harsh, tuneful vocals backed by a fast, crunchy guitar rhythm, hammering beats and melodic leads. "Seconds" starts with singer Jared MacEachern crooning "Your life is ending seconds at a time" before launching into a violently surging medley of frantic drums and guitar. Then the band goes into "Billy Seals," which follows a symphonic intro with an electronic rhythm that has machine-gun ferocity and timeless thrash riffage. "Everything we do is a collaborative effort," London explains about how the diverse songs coalesce. "Usually [guitarist] Zeff [Childress] will come up with a riff, and then he and I will work the song out a bit. Then Jared will come in and help shape it and give it a dynamic voice."
"Most of the vocals require a real aggressive style, but we definitely have our melodic side, too," MacEachern adds. "I sang in church choir between the ages of 5 and 13, so I try to put some of that in there as well." One reason Sanctity sound so tight and in tune is because Childress and London have been friends since they met in their first grade class. Over the years, they jammed together, then started a band in the seventh grade. Individually, they bounced from band to band playing a variety of styles until they were sophomores in high school. They decided to play together again and make music they were actually proud of. "I was in this southern rock band I was really sick of, so Zeff and I decided to start playing metal," recalls London. "I was playing bass at the time, and he had me switch to drums." For the next two and a half years, Sanctity went through several vocalists and bassists and played numerous local shows. But the turning point came when MacEachern saw one of their gigs at his college. "I was blown away instantly," he says. "They were really exciting to watch and I started really getting into it, so I jumped onstage and did "Creeping Death" by Metallica with them, and there was this instant connection. Right after the show they said, 'Hey, we need a singer. Wanna come by practice and try out?' So I dropped out of college and joined the band." Sanctity wrote a batch of songs, self-released a pair of EPs and toured exhaustively, playing 190 shows in 2005 alone.
At one of the concerts, they shared a bill with Trivium and Fear Factory, and before they went on, they asked the guys in Trivium to check them out for some constructive criticism. Fortunately there was little to criticize and Trivium were way more than constructive. "We've really liked those guys since their first album, so their feedback meant a lot," London says. Heafy recommended us to Monte Conner at Roadrunner. Monte gave us a call and we sent him our two EPs and we put a live DVD together." Conner liked what he heard and asked Sanctity to write some new songs and record him a high-quality demo. London called Heafy, who turned them on to Trivium's producer Jason Suecof. "We did a big benefit show to raise the money to record the demo," London says. "600 people showed up. For the other half of the money, we took a loan out, so we went in with Jason and did "Zeppo," "Seconds" and "Lost to Ego" and sent them back to Monte. "He really liked the songs, but he said he wanted to hear more to see where our music was going. We then went back to the studio with Jason to do four more songs." Those tracks, "Road to Bloodshed," "Once Again," "Brotherhood Of Destruction" and "Billy Seals" demonstrated real musical growth and proved Sanctity could continually deliver the goods. Seeing that, Conner flew out to see them live, then signed them to the label. With a deal in hand, Sanctity returned to Suecof's studio in Sanford, Florida to finish writing their first full album. Along the way, they lost their bassist and re-hired Derek Anderson who had filled in previously, but that's not what locked the band's creative brakes for nearly a month. "We were just working so hard to write songs and were really working against ourselves because we were trying so hard," MacEachern says. "So we took a week off and relaxed and let the music do what it does on its own. And from there everything went really smoothly."
With the songs for Road to Bloodshed finally written, Sanctity went back into the studio with Suecof in high spirits. "It was so easy and so much fun," London says. "Jason really brings out the best in everybody. He has a good ear and can hone in on the small things that might need to be changed. I tracked 14 songs in 12 hours and Derek did his bass parts in three hours. The guitars and vocals took a little longer, but in comparison to other bands, we worked really fast and had a great time." "It's our first record and I'm super excited about it," says McEachern. "But I'm looking ahead and I can't wait to do our second, third and fourth record. I look at this all as the beginning of an amazing process that I've been waiting for my whole life." From the acrobatic beats and squealing guitar harmonics of "Road to Bloodshed" to the off-time riffing and abrupt bursts of "Brotherhood Of Destruction," Sanctity have tapped into something equally virulent, vibrant and relevant and created the kind of album that causes chills from the first to the 100th time you listen to it. Sanctity may consider bands like Megadeth, Slayer, and Metallica to be primary points of influence, but ten years from now, a new generation of bands could easily be getting the same type of inspiration from Road to Bloodshed and the many Sanctity offerings to follow.