Sanctuary
The Year the Sun Died

 Okay this album is definitely going to be a grower, but that’s not a bad thing mind you, it’s just at times expectations can be a mindf**k. You anticipate, you dream and dwell on that one moment of what you envision or what you dream about forever ( in this case Sanctuary reforming ) and when it’s in your hands it may not be what you hoped for or expected.

I worshiped Refuge Denied when it first came out, Warrel Dane and his voice, a much cooler (accessible?) King Diamond with his range, the highs, the lows I was amazed. Musically too It was heavy, it was catchy. Into The Mirror Black just expanded all the above and more. Musically I was in love, I became more aware and appreciative of Warrels lyrics and the haunting poetic writings he created. Needless to say when Sanctuary ended so did my life in a small way ( Ha ha Im sorry, I exaggerate…but still) Nevermore managed to alleviate the pain and continue in a sense what I loved about Sanctuary.

So with that being said some say this is Nevermore Pt 2 but its not and that is a part of my disappointment. I was looking for the guitar stylings of Jeff Loomis and at times the progressive more technical musicianship of what Nevermore created and how it all came together for that band and its members. For the most part all of Nevermore releases are part of my desert island list. With Sanctuary you cannot see it as Nevermore and you got to see it/hear it has Sanctuary. Different players, different mindset, different time. With repeated listens I come to see this album has a logical successor to Into the Mirror Black. This album is rooted in the more traditional metal roots and is simpler and to the point. Again not a bad thing, just gotta adjust the mindset. I do admit to missing a bit of the Refuge Denied vocal stylings and I felt at first that Warrel’s vocals/melodies where not as catchy or as immediate, but with time and repeated listens it started to come together , I was hearing the melodies, delving into the lyrics and listening to the players. More and more the smile, the air guitars, the swelling of the metal heart started to happen and I can say now, I hold this album proudly.

The closest song I think to the Sanctuary of old is “Arise and Purify” with its brief snippets of high pitched singing. “Exitium” and “I Am Low” are something that could have been on Into The Mirror Black. “Frozen” is the resident rager with plenty of double bass and where the drums power the song. “The Dying Age” is my favorite. Its melodies and guitar playing are different and to me the most interesting of the bunch and also this is the only song I got to hear more of Jim Sheppard’s playing ( where is the bass?!?). “The Year the Sun Died” has some emotive vocals and lyrics has with the song itself. I do feel that some songs could have been off a Nevermore album but with connection between the 2 bands its unavoidable. Production is great for the most part loud, clear and distinct. Artwork is well done,both abstract and eerie, to convey the sentiment of the lyrics.

So sit back, read the lyrics, envision the artwork, let it all take you on a journey, a journey to the past while also bringing you and the band into the present and hopefully the future also for Sanctuary with more music from the band and its talented members.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Will 'Bones' Lee
June 10th, 2015

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