“Sanctuary” Inception – CD REVIEW by Adam McCann
Record: Century Media Records 2017
Think of Sanctuary and what do you think of? The movie from the 1970’s, Logan’s Run? Or the band that are named after this? Or do you think of the powerful cover to Sanctuary’s 1988 debut album Refuge Denied? The cover that depicts a ghoulish preacher brandishing a pistol condemning those from atop his pulpit whilst surrounded by his acolytes is all very late 80’s, an observation about the rampant televangelism which plagued the United States at the time.
Sanctuary launched Refuge Denied amongst the sea of thrash and glam metal which dominated the musical landscape. Although, Sanctuary’s music can be fast paced and at times galloping, it certainly doesn’t bear the hallmarks synonymous with thrash metal and instead Sanctuary has more akin with your traditional heavy metal with flourishes of progressive metal and power metal.
But what of before? What happened before Refuge Denied? This is where the aptly titled Inception comes into play. Released this year, Inception is Sanctuary’s ‘lost demo’ tape that shows well, the root of the band, it shows the vision and where the band would go with Refuge Denied with most of the songs re-recorded for Refuge Denied. Inception even goes as far as to reference Refuge Denied with the same ghoulish preacher on front, surrounded again by his acolytes who enslave those in front of them leading them into the church in the background.
According to the linear notes of Inception, during the recording of Sanctuary’s last studio album, The Year the Sun Died, released in 2014 produced by acclaimed producer Zeuss, guitarist Lenny Rutledge discussed the possibility of resurrecting the original demo tape he still had kicking about that contained two unreleased tracks.
Evidently, Zeuss agreed to this complete remaster and remix of the lost demo that would ultimately become Inception. Of course nothing is sacred anymore with the internet and these so called ‘lost demos’ have actually been knocking about for a while now, but the quality has been shockingly poor, as you would expect. Zeuss has done a fantastic job of bringing everything up to a modern sound, he has placed a modern sheen over the recordings in a way that only a true remaster done by a professional can. In fact, you can go as far to say that Zeuss’ remaster of the Inception demo actually sounds considerably better than Refuge Denied and oddly, you’ll find yourself listening to Inception more.
In regards to the ‘lost’ songs, what you get is one fantastic song and one almost forgettable song which even now is quite impossible to recall. Dream of the Incubus kicks things off on Inception and why this was ever put to one side is unthinkable. Dream of the Incubus is possibly on the best tracks that Sanctuary have ever recorded with its Mercyful Fate style riffing and lyrics and Warrel Dane hitting notes that are better reserved for King Diamond himself with Dream of the Incubus serving to remind us how good Dane’s voice was back in the day. However, I Am Insane pales in comparison to Dream of the Incubus and would maybe better staying lost adding little more than filler to Inception.
Inception sonically sounds brilliant and it is down not just Zeuss who has done a more than stellar job in resurrecting something that was dead, but also down to the song writing and craftsmanship that existed with Sanctuary even this early in their career. Refuge Denied is good, but Inception is how it should have sounded and adding Dream of the Incubus into the mix only adds to this. 8/10
Adam McCann / MHF Magazine