Skip to main content

Sanctuary - Inception album review

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

Cover art for sanctuary's inception

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.