Review by Alex on April 1, 2021.
Celestial Sanctuary did not impress nor did they disappoint with Mass Extinction. The two tracks featured on the Mass Extinction EP seemed to be more like puzzle pieces to a much bigger picture. Also, those tracks seemed to be the mere shell encasing what would soon follow suit. So with much left to be desired from those who made first contact with Mass Extinction, the question lingered in everyone's mind as to what exactly would be the tale of the next output. Not exactly the first impression you would want to create; however provided that soon after a full-fledged album would come full circle with ideal results, the tactic turned out much better than most would have expected.
Bold, very bold, a full length following a 2 track demo, not many go that route, and the ones that do either succeed or fail miserably. Celestial Sanctuary could have easily fallen apart on Soul Diminished, instead, they rose to the task of building a name early on following their debut demo. A collective mass of Incantation styled death/doom merged with (at times) a ritualistic throbbing comes pelting through the strikingly clean production value. One is left to wonder if Celestial Sanctuary meant to put forth this at a late date given its needle eye style of execution.
The thing about flukes is that they usually last a few minutes or a few songs then it's curtain-call. Soul Diminished feels complete and more so, consistent. So well assembled and consciously put together that after every listen you just can't help but revisit the record and inspect as much as is presented on a surface level to even the microscopic details dwelling in between the cracks and underneath the elementary mask of their old school death metal.
Dynamic with variations and diversions populating the likes of 'Relentless Savagery', 'Rid the Gormless' and 'Wretched Existence' that even while possessing inchoate guitar passages fair well when adapting to the diverse drum insertions. Thrash and grindcore elements come to the front at select moments but don't overstay their welcome. In-addition, pinch harmonics appear and find their way to the surface of songs on Soul Diminished thus creating a colorful palette of pieces to pick from.
The production helped out much on Soul Diminished to create the audial impact the record has. Both vocals and drums sound fat, while the guitars have a fair amount of meat around the shriek. There could have been a bit more depth in the song structures, a bit more intricacies; however, the catchy hooks helped to deter attention away from that shortcoming. Some of the better moments appear in the form of and materialize within 'Yearn For the Rot' and 'Endless Chasm' that manage to put a definitive punctuation mark counting down to Soul Diminished final moments. Seemingly better written than the former tracks and has a grandeur appeal that captures the cover artwork.
Soul Diminished is a strong album that shows off the very basics of death metal; however, there seems to be great potential for more sophistication within the writing department of Celestial Sanctuary's music.
Rating: 7.8 out of 10179