Review: Sanctuary – Refuge Denied

Posted: November 30, 2014 in Reviews
Tags: , , , , , ,

Following the sad demise of Nevermore, Warrel Dane has reactivated Seattle power metal legends Sanctuary and released a new record this year. Sanctuary was probably the first place a lot of metal fans heard Dane’s staggering scream, and ‘Refuge Denied’ boasts not only the band’s best tune to date (Battle Angels) but also one of Ed Repka’s finest cover arts. I finally managed to get a proper CD of this through the post today, after only having a copy for so long.

On to the music. ‘Battle Angels’ opens with probably one of American power metal’s best tunes, a ripping slice of classic heavy metal riffs and of course Dane’s awesome vocals. I’m not entirely sure he’ll be able to do it anymore, but in 1987 he probably was behind only Halford and King Diamond in terms of pure ‘metal-ness’! ‘Refuge Denied’ switches between some galloping NWOBHM riffs to some thrashier sections. The speedy ‘Termination Force’ is particularly cool, and it delves into a couple of softer, almost progressive patches. ‘Die for My Sins’ is some seriously catchy speed metal tunes, reminscient of early Blind Guardian material, while ‘Soldiers of Steel’ showcases the variety that Sanctuary brought to the table, along with what feels like a vintage thrash solo.

On to possibly the most recognisable moment on this record, the Jefferson Airplane cover ‘White Rabbit’. It includes a guest solo from Dave Mustaine (who produced the record) and the song is, of course, pretty cool. But I wouldn’t go as far to say it’s the best moment. That honour goes to the brooding self titled track, ‘Sanctuary’, that showcases the King Diamond-esque highest parts of Dane’s range as a vocalist, as well as featuring some cool riffing patterns.

‘Refuge Denied’ is a very special record for a number of reasons. Number one, it proved that American power metal could be a force to be respected, instead of derided (Manowar….). It also introduced the world to the talent of Warrel Dane, not only as a vocalist but as a lyricist. Finally, it is a great album with well written songs that hold up to today’s material. That, at least, is somewhat hard to find these days.

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