The weight of expectation behind Sanction feels considerate even at this stage, and that simply comes from what preceded them. They’re a product of the Long Island hardcore scene, after all, and following in the footsteps of such artists as Crime In Stereo and Vision Of Disorder is no small task, especially for what’s still a relatively undiscovered band. The good news is they’ve at least got the backing of Pure Noise for this second album, a label that’s often given incredibly solid platforms for new hardcore bands, as well as the blessing of current scene flag-bearers Stray From The Path to suggest that Sanction are, in fact, the real deal. It’s a good start, and gives an air of confidence to Broken In Refraction for it to deliver upon its multiple levels of promise.

What’s more, there’s actually a seed of individuality that’s been planted on this album, with shards of more technical, discordant hardcore used to separate Sanction from being reductively lumped in with their strictly beatdown-focused peers. That’s definitely a good fit as well, particular as Broken In Refraction has everything needed for another solid release that does actually have a chance of standing out from the crowd. Granted, that might be a bit generous, especially when a lot of Sanction’s efforts can ultimately be traced back to modern hardcore’s very rudimentary, groove-centric sense of heaviness, but there’s definitely more than first expected here overall, and that’s good to see.

And really, the big talking points about this album come in those very slight deviations, though they do add up to a lot more across the course of its runtime, as the sharper, more volatile guitat fragments on The Final Fraction and Radial Lacerations channel the adjacent underground hardcore of a band like Vein, and the rattling snares bring to mind the more chaotic passages of early Slipknot albums in a way that’s really effective. It certainly gives a more ragged, rusted-over edge to a slice of hardcore that, otherwise, can feel a bit too conventional for its own good, though still manages to hit the sweet spots to work with it thunderous guitar tone and sense of presence on a track like Infants In Plastic. A big part of that comes from vocalist David, with the sort of proto-metalcore snarl that brings the vintage comparisons around even further, but on a general, compositional level, the bloody-mindedness that Sanction display is consistently impressive, and refusing to dial that back ultimately brings out the best results. Again, the parallels are easy to draw, both in the execution and the content, but when it’s pulled off with the gumption to really go for broke, and the necessary tweaks to prevent it from feeling dated in pretty much any way, it’s tough to complain all that much.

Of course, whether that will see Sanction break out of a notoriously crowded scene even for hardcore is an open question at this stage, but they’ve definitely got the nous to make a good go of it. It’s hardly like Broken In Refraction is going to turn anyone off, but the moves have been made here for Sanction to stand a serious chance of pressing forward, and that’s a good sign. Even if there’s a bit more work to be done to find a definitive identity, this is already a good start, and with the right backing that already seems to be showing up, they could become a powerful new force within hardcore very soon. There’s a lot that’s worth keeping an eye on here.

7/10

For fans of: Stray From The Path, Year Of The Knife, Zao
Words by Luke Nuttall

‘Broken In Refraction’ by Sanction is released on 26th July on Pure Noise Records.

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