Quebec City stoner rock veterans Sandveiss have launched a megaton bomb with their latest release. However, this album won’t produce the same fallout as their 2013 masterpiece Scream Queen (awarded Heavy Album of the Year at the 2015 GAMIQ awards). After a six year wait, Saboteur was released October 11, 2019 with Sexy Sloth Records. Sandveiss’ quest to produce excellent, heavy, and catchy music continues, but without breaking much new ground. Despite this solid release, it’s difficult to imagine the band behind Saboteur opening for Megadeth on Quebec City’s Plains of Abraham or going on a tour of Sweden in 2015.
For you Sandveiss fans who think I’m being too harsh, no one is questioning that Saboteur is excellent, well-produced, and heavy as fuck! It’s easy to see where this band’s appeal comes from. They’re excellent musicians and this is a well-made record, but there is an element of innovation missing. Saboteur takes us into even darker, sludgier, moodier territory than Scream Queen, but without the raw energy this band is known for. This record features a smoother, more textured sound than its predecessor.
Opening track “Sands of Time” has a slow, gripping groove that sets this record’s overall tone with a sonic palette that borrows colours from Ozzy Osbourne, Velvet Revolver, and Black Label Society. The follow-up, “Dead Inside,” brings up the energy with the best riff on this album, offset with a lackluster vocal melody. Mammoth track “Masquerade,” clocking in at 9:24, had the potential to grab my attention with its shifting movements and buildup, but it somehow fell flat. So, it goes with the rest of this album, which was pleasant to listen to, but didn’t jump out at me as excellent.
After 34 punishing and grueling (in the right way) but monotonous (in the wrong way) minutes, Saboteur finally takes a refreshing new direction with acoustic guitars and a string section on closing track “Burning Ropes,” perhaps Saboteur’s best song overall. Sadly, it was too little, too late.
For all of the positive things I can say about this record, I remain unimpressed overall. One persistent gripe I had is singer/guitarist Luc Bourgeois’ subtle yet audible francophone accent. I have always felt that Québécois artists can set themselves apart by singing in French. To my ears, it’s too bad when they choose not to. A fine example is Bourgeois’ main band, trad-rockers Bodh’aktan, in which he plays the bagpipes. They’re worth a listen!
Sandveiss’ latest release, Saboteur is also worth a listen… If you’re a stoner rock fan! If not, you may remain unimpressed.
Written by Henri Brillon
*edited by Danielle Kenedy