That there would be a Swedish band playing death metal is something I am familiar with. That there would be a Swedish band playing death metal trenched in American style, is something I am not familiar with. And thats' what I realised when I first SANCTIFICATION's ''Black Reign'' a hear. Instead of the buzzsaw tones from the heavily detuned guitars so commonly heard among the Swedish death bands, one could mostly hear that fast, distorted, down tuned riffs similar to American death metal bands like Hate Eternal, Deicide. However, this wasn't a point to reject their album. Black Reign is an absolute spine crusher that continuously drowns you in its unstoppable fury in the form of its pile-driving riffs and heart-stopping percussion beats.
With solid vocals that are delivered at a brutal precision akin to Corpsegrinder Fischer's style in Cannibal Corpse, the album is just like any of the numerous traditional death metal album. With ripping riffs playing in blast happy rhythms with accordance to fast, dynamic double bass beats which adds to the ferocity of the music, ''Black Reign'' is your classic death metal album. What packs an extra punch to its ferocity is the album super refined production values added by the inimitable Peter Tagtren and Tommy Tagtren. Due to this ,the tones are beefy which underscore's the album's brutal sounds without giving that unwanted sense of suffocation. And when you realise that Sanctification shares its members with Dark Funeral both in the past and in the present times, you dont stop admiring the fact that they are as much energetic and tight act like Funeral.
Magnus Broberg's (a.k.a Emperor Caligula) gutturals leave a devastating effect on your audio senses in songs such as ''Black Reign'' and ''Raw''. The guitars shred furiously alongside the frantic blasts at mid-tempo pace in ''Flesh,Skin and Bone'' before joining up the album's overall rhythm. Nils Fjellstorm's drumming is one of the strong point in the album. The drumming is pretty much in old school veins employing start-and-stop blasts which never impedes the guitar work at any single point which're handled masterfully by Tomas and Marcus, and this is best demonstrated in the starting track ''Thirst For Blood'' where guitars and drums go side by side without eating in to each other's rhythm.
On the whole the album is well done, and although SANCTIFICATION pretty much plays in the American style at points they do try to break away from it to fall back to their Swedish death roots. Amongst the many mediocre death metal albums that're available these days, ''Black Reign'' manages to stay above them. If its the classic death metal albums you crave for minus the cock and ball torture in modern death metal albums, then SANCTIFICATIION's ''Black Reign'' is just the right thing for you.