Sanctuary - The Year The Sun Died

Sanctuary - The Year The Sun Died

(CD/LP, Century Media Records, 2014)

It’s hard for a band to return with a new album after 15 years and SANCTUARY will not be the exception to this ‘rule’. I mean, there are many variables in this equation and most of them have to do with the burning question of how the reactivated lineup will pay justice to the old material and - of course - if the sound will be as old-school as in the debut. Well, there is a rhetorical question that is enough to answer all this: are you the same person as you were fifteen years ago? Anyway, “The Year The Sun Died” is the title of the comeback SANCTUARY album, so let’s see where their music is going.

“Arise And Purify” was the first sample from the reactivated SANCTUARY and I am sure it split the metalheads into parties because - let’s face it - there is a lot of NEVERMORE in the heavy groove, the guitar leads and in Dane’s vocals that have walked many miles since “Battle Angels”. But I’m prepared to be under heavy fire the moment I say I like the vocals and the guitars very much. The sound is massive (and on vinyl too) and the main riff is super addictive while the multiple vocal harmonies kill. The way this song explodes after Warrel’s grunt followed by the guitar solo is a headbanging paradise, so better warm up that neck before spinning this. There is a “Dead Heart In A Dead World” quality in the song-structures that flirt with the Progressive sound without however stepping both feet on it. I mean, there are several layers on top of each other (multiple vocal harmonies and guitars) but everything is straightforward and not at all saturated so - yes - headbanging is still on the spotlight.

The album is based on a concept about a female sheer predicting the death of the sun, so the music has a dark atmosphere that gets flesh and bones in the slower “Exitium (Anthem Of The Living)”, the almost power ballad “I Am Low” with powerful singing and then it climaxes with the album’s title track. The latter song can also considered as the highlight of the tracklist but needs more listening time to be discovered since the tempo is mid to slow but is still heavy with awesome leads (especially the riff as it is combined with the vocals in the chorus is amazing), more expressional singing, ‘natural’ sounding drums (you got to love that high hat) and a really inspired solo based on the song’s main theme.

On the faster-tempo spectrum, I am sure the riff driven “Frozen” (love the solo that comes so early in the game and the singing-along chorus) and the groovy “The World Is Wired” are strong candidates for future setlists, offering some quality headbanging time. I should not forget about the bonus track that is an overhauled version of THE DOORS “Waiting For The Sun” and I will draw your attention on how SANCTUARY made it heavier without ‘destroying’ the original’s feeling. This is one of the rare cases where one can approach the cover version as a totally new creation.

In full disclosure I’ll say that I didn’t dig up the old SANCTUARY albums and approached “The Year The Sun Died” as an album from a new band, because as I said, getting back after all these, years no one can be the same. And I am glad I did this, since the album is a killer and shows a refreshed/inspired lineup, so I am crossing fingers for a US tour.

"What if there was nothing more?
What if there is only emptiness?
What if there is nothing more
beyond the code of deliverance?"





01. Arise And Purify
02. Let The Serpent Follow Me
03. Exitium (Anthem Of The Living)
04. Question Existence Fading
05. I Am Low
06. Frozen
07. One Final Day (Sworn To Believe)
08. The World Is Wired
09. The Dying Age
10. Ad Vitam Aeternam
11. The Year The Sun Died
12. Waiting For The Sun (bonus)


Jim Sheppard - Bass
Dave Budbill - Drums
Lenny Rutledge - Guitar
Warrel Dane - Vocals
Brad Hull - Guitar