Sanctuary - Inception album review

Seattle’s first-wave power metallers find gold in their vault

Cover art for sanctuary's inception

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

It was often the case in the 80s that a band’s demo had the edge on their first album; sometimes on an official debut, studio inexperience and label pressure can detract from the raw, spontaneous attack of earlier homemade recordings. Here’s a classic example.

Rescued from a box in a barn, these are recently rediscovered 1986 demo songs by tech-power metal pioneers Sanctuary, most of which ended up on their 1988 debut Refuge Denied – produced, poorly, by Dave Mustaine. It was scarcely a duff LP, but at this nascent stage the passion and energy of the newborn band is at full pelt, and with a painstakingly remixed and remastered sound, these tunes lurch across the decades to punch the listener in the face. Ravening belters like Battle Angels and Death Rider/Third War mix up thrashing keg-party juvenilia with tentatively progressive and epic inclinations. The performances are brimming with spunk and Sanctuary’s rampant 80s metal heroism is boosted to glory by Warrel Dane’s full-force high-notes and some deliriously maniacal guitar solos.

Chris Chantler

Chris has been writing about heavy metal since 2000, specialising in true/cult/epic/power/trad/NWOBHM and doom metal at now-defunct extreme music magazine Terrorizer. Since joining the Metal Hammer famileh in 2010 he developed a parallel career in kids' TV, winning a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for BBC1 series Little Howard's Big Question as well as writing episodes of Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed and The Furchester Hotel. His hobbies include drumming (slowly), exploring ancient woodland and watching ancient sitcoms.