If you like classic, melodic heavy metal and bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest or Black Sabbath, or if you’ve liked them at one time, you should definitely check out this new band from Brooklyn, NYC. They are excellent. But don’t think of them as a retro band. That wouldn’t be doing them justice, because they are much more than that.

Sanhedrin were formed in 2014 when bassist and vocalist Erica Stoltz (Amber Asylum, Lost Goat) joined guitarist Jeremy Sosville (Black Anvil) and drummer Nathan Honor, who had already been jamming together for some time. They hit it off, and Erica’s bass playing, her lyrics and her vocals, made Jeremy’s and Nathan’s fledgling compositions complete. Their collaboration resulted first in a demo and then in a debut album. A Funeral for the World features traditional heavy metal music, very melodic, with a bit of doom and stoner rock. The originally self-released album together with numerous live performances and a continuously growing fan base attracted the attention of Cruz del Sur Music who offered the band a deal for a vinyl re-release. The band accepted, hoping to reach a wider audience that way.

While Sanhedrin’s music and the vocals are rooted in the classics, the lyrics are progressive and socially critical. I like that very much. They deal with subjects like pollution, ruthless human greed, the oppressive character of religion and people that are like the living dead. It would be great to see more bands from the metal genre turn from fantasy-based themes to real life.

Both drummer Nathan and guitarist Jeremy are excellent musicians, but Erica’s vocals and lyrics are what’s making this band special. I like seeing women in heavy metal (and I mean women, not dolls). They are extremely underrepresented in this male-dominated and often sexist genre. That’s why Erica almost instantly evokes interest. A sound engineer by trade and a social activist, she does her thing, without giving in to clichés.

The bands unusual name is a reference to their home borough Brooklyn and in line with the socially critical lyrics. The Sanhedrin was an assembly of rabbis appointed to sit as a tribunal in every city in the ancient Land of Israel. The Great Sanhedrin was the only body that could try the king and that made the final decision about all questions of the law, something like a Supreme Court.

Brooklyn is home to the greatest Jewish community in the US and roughly one quarter of its residents is Jewish. That culture, especially its orthodox version can be very oppressive, to all individuals who grow up in it, but especially to women. The song No Religion consequently asks “Lord please spare me your religion / It always seems that I’m in chains”.

Musically and lyrically, one song is better than the next. I really can’t decide on a favourite. I like the classic sound of Riding on The Dawn, the terrific break in the soundscape of Demoness, the epic character of Collateral Damage and the lyrics of No Religion.

There really isn’t much more to say except go get it and enjoy.

I am sure that this is a band to reckon with. I’m looking forward to hearing more and seeing them perform somewhere. You’ve got yourself a new fan, Sanhedrin. I’ll spread the word.

(8,5/10 Slavica)