In this writer’s (mostly) humble opinion, Sanhedrin are one of the best bands in the recent wave of American heavy metal bands alongside acts like Pounder and Haunt. Their debut album, A Funeral for the World, was a high-flying epic led by exceptional musicianship and Erica Stoltz’s powerful vocals. Its follow up is The Poisoner, Sanhedrin’s second LP, and the band have built impressively on the framework of the first album.
The trio of bassist/vocalist Stoltz, guitarist Jeremy Sosville (Black Anvil) and drummer Nathan Honor is a powerful one as evidenced on epic opener “Meditation (All My Gods Are Gone),” the brooding “Blood from a Stone” and the shorter, nasty ripper “For the Wicked.”
The Poisoner is the follow-up to your first full-length, A Funeral for the World, which came out in the fall of 2017. How do you think Sanhedrin has progressed since that record?
Jeremy Sosville: Our first album was the springboard for the band, but it was really just the beginning of us forging our own identity. With ‘The Poisoner’, we’re digging deeper into our abilities, both as musicians and songwriters while remaining true to the foundational aspects of the band.
Nathan Honor: There’s a deeper level of trust and respect between us. We make a point to communicate, even when it’s an uncomfortable topic. When you’re making music this kind of rapport allows you to push further.
Erica Stoltz: I think our song writing has become tighter. We are setting into owning our roles in the band.
Sanhedrin signed with Cruz del Sur for the release of The Poisoner, and you’re also headed to Europe at the end of this month. Does it feel like things have snowballed between records?
JS: The attention to a new record this time around has definitely been much more apparent. We initially self-released the first record, so it took some time for people to spread the word. In the case of The Poisoner, there seems to be a sense of anticipation among our supporters regarding its release, and that is new for us. The sense of momentum pushing the band right now is definitely growing, and we’re excited for the journey that momentum will bring.
NH: We are also very much looking forward to making our European debut. When we released Funeral… there were no indications that we’d ever have fans abroad. Their support and enthusiasm has been a real catalyst for creativity on our end.
ES: We certainly hope so. We wanted to take advantage of the momentum that funeral ‘Funeral For the World’ had created. It was a priority to go and play for our fans overseas.
I’ve been told that the lyrics on this record reach beyond the often-fantastical lyrics common in traditional heavy metal. Can you shed some light on what they are about?
ES: Our lyrics are not all swords, wizards, dragons, that’s for sure. I write about autobiographical topics, some rock and roll stuff, observations on human nature, my imaginative ideas of natural law, some sci-fi fantasy.
What was the writing and recording process for The Poisoner like? Did it happen quickly or was it completed over an extended period of time?
JS: Some of the songs were already in the works prior to the release of our first album, while others came together after. It’s important to us to put together a group of songs that flows when listened to as a whole album, so that’s always in our minds when writing new material. It’s also important that each song have its own identity. The recording process was very similar to the first record. It was tracked and mixed by Colin Marston at his studio in Queens, NY. We had a goal of getting an album ready for release ahead of the trip to Europe we’re about to embark on, so there was a sense of deadline pushing our creativity that was not present when making our first album.
NH: I’m honestly surprised at how quickly The Poisoner came together. Working with a time frame was not something we had done before. When we were writing Funeral for the World, we were in no hurry, and there were no outside expectations. Our goal was to simply make the best record we could. Between our pending European tour and Cruz Del Sur staking a claim, there was also this personal pressure of wanting to produce something as compelling and meaningful as our first record.
Once you release your record and return from Europe, what’s the plan for Sanhedrin?
JS: On March 27, two days after we return from Europe, we play at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn supporting Lucifer and Spell. We then have some US and Canadian dates in the works for late June which should be announced in greater detail very soon.
NH: I’m looking forward to getting back into the rehearsal room and writing more music.
ES: I love the writing process so I’m look forward to getting back into that. I’m also looking forward to doing a bunch of live dates in the late spring and summer with Slough Feg.