Hailing from the US Sanctuary are a classic metal band from Seattle, who alongside the likes of Queensrÿche and Metal Church helped to forge a scene of different sounding and intelligent metal from the Washington area. With choppy riffs, a damn solid rhythm section and distinctive soaring vocals the band appeared to be set to launch into orbit with their debut album produced by Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine. Releasing terrific albums and having acclaim from critics and fans alike didn’t always mean success through the changing musical scene of the early 90’s, so as the first chapter of Sanctuary ended vocalist Warrel Dane and guitarist Jeff Loomis continued with the excellent Nevermore until chapter two of Sanctuary resumed in 2011.
Although this is not strictly a new album, it does mark the release of demo material from 1986 prior to the release of their debut album, which sounds really good after being restored, remixed and remastered. With Warrel Dane on lead vocals even though these songs have been remixed there is still an overwhelming raw energy to it all.
Their sound may have changed a bit over the years, certainly it’s more polished but that would be expected as a band matures. There is definitely less use of the high register in Warrel’s vocals on 2014’s The Year The Sun Died, but you can certainly see where the development started with these demos, this may be considered by some as just a filler, but it’s certainly worth adding to the collection of any Sanctuary fan, they could have just re-recorded everything, but this was the better route to take, breathing new life into the original demos.
The highlight of this has to be “Dream Of The Incubus” which benefits a lot from the updated sound, although keeping faithful to the original; add to that tracks like “Ascension To Destiny,” and “I Am Insane,” which just want to burst into a more aggressive beast and the progressive, delicate in places “Veil Of Disguise,” which ebbs and flows dragging you along for the ride. It’s always interesting when songs that don’t actually make it to onto an album turn out to be just as strong as those that do.
This album has some legs too, perhaps they are not the type of tracks that the band are working on now, but this marks an important time in how Sanctuary came into being, don’t just overlook while waiting on the new album, give it a spin and I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Not just a rehash of Refuge Denied, and a release that turns out to be is just as informative as it is interesting.
Released by Century Media on Feb 24th 2017 and reviewed by Stephen Brophy