Sanctuary have a rich legacy in heavy metal. Their debut album, Refuge Denied, was released in 1987 and was produced by none other than Megadeth‘s Dave Mustaine. It was like candy for a teenager’s ears – raw, moody, and heavy as hell. I know I wore it out on cassette, just like I did with their next album, Into The Mirror Black. They didn’t fit the mold of anyone playing at the time. Unfortunately, Sanctuary were short-lived, pushed to the side by the grunge scene in their hometown of Seattle. They soon disbanded, and Warrel Dane, Jeff Loomis, and Jim Sheppard formed Nevermore. Rumors of a Sanctuary reunion album started flying in 2010, but there wasn’t much activity until this year, and I now hold in my hand The Year The Sun Died!
You can clearly hear elements of both Nevermore and Sanctuary on The Year The Sun Died, sans the high-pitched falsetto that Dane was capable of on the first two albums. “Arise and Purify” makes a statement about the Sanctuary of 2014 right out of the gate. It’s atmospheric and pummeling, and Lenny Rutledge screams on guitar, flexing his muscles throughout the entire recording. “Let The Serpents Follow Me” is dark and melodic, and “Exitium (Anthem of the Living)” is exactly what I expected from this album. “I Am Low,” my current favorite, is dark, brooding, and almost ballad-like. It builds into a massive wall of crunching riffs and glorious vocals! “Frozen” is fast, furious, and catchy, and the title track has an epic feel to it and showcases Dane’s vocals. The outro, a cover of The Doors’ “Waiting for the Sun,” is appropriately placed and boasts a rich blend of melody and heavy riffing.
If you’ve been waiting for the next Nevermore record, you won’t be disappointed with The Year The Sun Died. And if you are an old-school Sanctuary fan, you’ll be impressed with this release. You couldn’t ask for much more!
The Year The Sun Died is out now on Century Media Records.
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars