Sanctuaire hearken back to an imagined Canadian Viking past in the hope of explaining their national hockey skills. Le Sang sur l’Acier presents three black metal songs written in a style similar to their compatriots Sorcier des Glaces but genericized for mass appeal.
Le Sang sur l’Acier‘s black metal compositions consist of short riffs of simple, tremolo-picked arpeggios atop rhythmic, shifting power chords. Numerous variations thereof assemble into long melodic narratives within individual verses variating throughout the songs to eventually classically resolve dissonance with consonance while cathartically relieving tension built through repetition with short climatic solos. Many of Sanctuaire’s riffs are immediately aesthetically appealing but quite a few are the type of generic black metal rhythm riffs repeated by everyone since Sodom. More problems arise when only a few riffs climax in each song while the others are superfluous. These loose riffs existing apart from the narrative melody lengthen songs to the point of losing attention.
The overall mood established by Le Sang sur l’Acier is ill-fitting too. Sanctuaire never breaks out of sentimental longing for an ancestral past not their own unless they’re claiming descent from the settlers of Vinland and the Dark Age Franks. The title track even leaves the unpleasant aftertaste of later Emperor; the post-incarceration Emperor who wrote simple Enslaved songs with Emperor riffs. Santuaire is somehow even less aggressive than Enslaved on Le Sang sur l’Acier, which translates as “Blood on Steel”. The band never threatens to make the audience leave the conventionally-structured, modern black metal atmospheric comfort zone Le Sang sur l’Acier inhabits. What would the heathen war gods of old led by the All-Father think of such cowardice? Too timid to inject their record with the testosterone displayed by their own musical forefather Quorthon on Blood Fire Death, Santuaire are content for Le Sang sur l’Acier to inhabit the middling safe space of modern “extreme” metal rather than storming the Gold Walls of Heaven.