Erica Stoltz: Vocals / Bass
Jeremy Sosville: Guitar
Nathan Honor: Drums
Brooklyn power trio Sanhedrin do metal the old school way, channeling the greats that preceded them to create something that is instantly familiar yet with a new, modern energy to it. With 2019's The Poisoner they branched out, exploring new avenues and hitting home with every effort, all the while staying true to themselves. Now they return with Lights On, their most accomplished effort to date. "We want to satisfy ourselves with music that we are proud to present to the world. That's the overall plan with every record we have made," states vocalist/bassist Erica Stoltz. Adds drummer Nathan Honor, "hoping it would likely reach the widest audience of any of our work thus far, it was important that we further refined our sound and pulled out all the stops. These songs are a collection of feelings of loss, uncertainty, hope, fear, anger and a deep examination of the human condition. The music draws from our deep and varied influences and is presented in a fashion that is unabashedly Sanhedrin."
With heavyweight opener "Correction" lyrically referencing the global pandemic of 2020-21, it is safe to say that recent events played a large part in shaping the record. Not only did it prevent the band members from working together on the new songs, forcing them to work remotely and bounce files between them, it had a powerful emotional impact that drew them closer together. "Like everyone on Earth, we lost a lot of things that mattered to us in 2020," says guitarist Jeremy Sosville. "I lost my mother due to cancer and was not able to say goodbye to her in the hospital because of pandemic restrictions. For me personally, the bond I share with my bandmates and the music we were working on for this album was essential to getting me through what turned out to be the worst year of many people's lives, including my own." The result of their efforts is a diverse collection with no two songs sounding quite alike without stepping outside of the Sanhedrin sound. "I think of it as a collection of songs that reflects our vast diversity of inspiration. Each song is its own experience and soundscape, while staying true to being part of a cohesive collection," says Sosville, and elaborates Honor, "we just write music we want to hear. Having such varied tastes, we end up with songs that touch different parts of our influences. As a 3-piece band it can be hard to be dynamic, so we strive to keep things interesting while staying true to ourselves."
The title of the album refers to the many events of the last few years that have exposed larger societal issues long hidden or ignored. "In a manner of speaking the veil has been lifted before our eyes and the light is finally shining through the darkness," says Sosville. "The curtain creating the illusion of peace and prosperity has been drawn aside, revealing the true nature of our reality and the world in which we exist." When it came to lyrics, Stoltz says that she is reflecting that which she sees, "having some existential crises and celebrating life," and she draws from a broad palette. "Scythian Women" refers to a significant archeological find in Russia in December of 2019. "A burial of 4 warriors aged 12 to 50 years old with all of their battle gear was found. They were all women. The 12-year-old had her legs broken in death to look like she was riding a horse. These were Scythian warriors, and pre-Christian expressions of womanhood." Then there is "Code Blue", which is inspired by the night the vocalist met her "partner in crime" and "is about carnal desire and choosing to take someone home and into your heart," while the words of the title track "are my musings on living in this age in America; the protests around police killings of black people, the insurrection, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin. I thought of the power dynamics that allow these things to happen and the stories we tell ourselves to keep the fabric of society intact."
Tracked, mixed and co-produced by Colin Marston at his studio Menegroth, The Thousand Caves in Woodhaven, Queens, New York, the band worked hard to capture their timeless, organic, live sound rather than something that sounded polished and contemporary, breathing extra life into the songs. "A record should capture the band's essence and energy," says Sosville. "There is a lot a band can do to enhance their sound with technology, but we try to avoid going down that slippery slope in favor of staying true to our live sound. That's not to say we don't use the tools available to enhance a moment here and there in the name of dynamics." Their third record with Marston, the band have developed a strong rapport with the producer and the sessions were according to Stoltz "smooth as butter", while Honor states "he's such a talented musician himself that he's able to immediately and effortlessly understand your intentions and help you be the best version of yourself." SeventhBell Artwork handled the album cover, as they have the record's two predecessors, having become an integral part of the Sanhedrin process, once again coming up with something unique that is fitting to the music. And when asked why anyone should give a damn about Sanhedrin in 2022 Honor answers the question most succinctly: "In a time where the world around you feels like it's aflame, when our heavy metal heroes are beginning to disappear to failing health or changing social norms, we, Sanhedrin, stand here as a shining light through the dark. We are prepared to fly the flag of heavy metal in these trying and uncertain times, and have only begun to show the world what we are capable of."