Talk about a long gap between albums, 1989 was the last time there was a new release from the US metal band Sanctuary. Though in the early nineties it wasn't the best of times for metal groups and Sanctuary disbanded in 1992. Two members would go on to form another band and Nevermore was born, then many years later in 2011 we read about the departure of guitarist Jeff Loomis and drummer Van Williams from the group due to differences leaving quite a hole in the line-up. But the band isn't over so we may still see future Nevermore releases. Nevemore vocalist Warrel Dane got the ball rolling with his previous group and teamed up with band mate bass player Jim Shepard, and another former Sanctuary member guitarist Lenny Rutledge, drummer Dave Budbill would also return. Sanctuary was active once more appearing at ProgPower USA 2011, and now Sanctuary have recorded a splendid new metal album The Year The Sun Died.
The Year The Sun Died has more in common with the style of Sanctuary's second album Into The Mirror Black and Nevermore. The Sanctuary of today is a heavy modern and melodic power/progressive metal outfit, Warrel Dane isn't singing in that higher register like on their debut Refuge Denied, his distinctive engaging melodic vocals are still very strong and very welcome on this album. Sanctuary has a potent twin guitar line-up that regularly dishes out their robust riffs and soaring solos, and they are backed by a dynamic rhythm section.
The vigorous metal of "Arise And Purify" gives The Year The Sun Died a very solid start, of course Warrel Dane's vocals draw similarities to Nevermore's sound though the guitar work isn't as technical as that of Jeff Loomis. "Let The Serpent Follow Me" keeps more active metal in check and "Exitium (Anthem Of The Living)" brings a change with this darker brooding track where everything works so well. The production is excellent ensuring all the fine songs recorded on here like "Question Existence Fading" have the sound they deserve, and Warrel Dane's lyrics are fantastic as usual.
After twenty five years The Year The Sun Died is a very pleasing comeback album by Sanctuary, showing they still have that chemistry. You may well have missed Sanctuary the first time round as many seemed to when really this is one band that should have been making big waves in the metal scene. So don't let The Year The Sun Died pass you by, I'm sure the fans of Nevermore and Sanctuary's earlier albums will be eager to give it a go. Then for those who wish to track down copies of their first two releases for the first time look out for the remastered double CD pack of Refuge Denied and Into The Mirror Black .
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
1. Arise And Purify
2. Let The Serpent Follow Me
3. Exitium (Anthem Of The Living)
4. Question Existence Fading
5. I Am Low
7. One Final Day (Sworn To Believe)
8. The World Is Wired
9. The Dying Age
10. Ad Vitam Aeternam
11. The Year The Sun Died