Sanctuary - The Year the Sun Died

Sanctuary The Year the Sun Died cover
Sanctuary
The Year the Sun Died
2014
6.5
Average: 5.8 (5 votes)
I remember having met Warrel Dane, several years ago, when Nevermore last played Greece, to actually go and meet some of my friends, not even, being an elusive autograph or photograph seeker, but, we sort of casually spoke with him, for a while as he preferred to be in our company seemingly, rather than in that of the other members of the band at the time. He was even as kind as to try and get them to get down from the roof garden to meet some fans, but they declined, proffering to stay with some “occasional female company” instead… oh well they perks of rock stardom I guess... since then, certain members of that band  have attempted rather unimpressive stabs at solo careers, with especially some of Jeff Loomis, Djent, stuff, being quite boring… I mean apart from the surgical rescission required  for “some” of the riffing, in that genre, a lot of it, tends to be extremely simplistic... At any rate, some other member decided to join a band, that mimics Iced earth, because it actually contains a couple of crucial ex members…
 
As for key figures Warrel Dane and Jim Sheppard, they decided to resurrect Sanctuary, their previous band... a move, that certainly surprised a few, since their old school, high pitched vocal style, was not only quite a departure, from what Dane had accustomed fans with in recent years, making a return to that style quite a questionable wager, but also seemed quite suspect on the basis of its motives...
 
Having however, seen the band through the years... there was always a love and affection for those times and maybe a relative bitterness for the way things ended back then… and since Nevermore had “ceased” to be in less than amicable circumstances, with at the same time the whole “old gang” being on good terms again and thinking that maybe it would be worth to give it another shot, given that there, was going to be – an already half established fan base out there… it’s a reasonable enough thing that they decided to have a go at this.
 
First of all… fans of “Refuge Denied” forget it. There ain’t any crazy falsettos here… there are hardly some “higher” end performances… but then again… even if Warrel back at the hotel was promising us that he’d try hard to work on his vocals and try to “get back” his range, his voice, after a certain tour, got pretty “damaged” and he hasn’t managed to get it back fully… I also suppose that time is passing and it’s getting the best of us as well…
 
He is still a respectable singer and on certain songs he really manages to sound quite sensational... but what really is a little more unsettling that Dane’s slowly diminishing range is the style of the songs...
 
You could not really make up your mind if this is a more simplistic Nevermore or a more complex Sanctuary and it probably ends up being a bit of both, with the chemistry on an album configuration not being bad, but not being able to turn back the hands of time. Maybe that was not the intention, realizing that, it’s not the 80s anymore and without the ability to go for all those really high notes, even attempting to go for that style would possibly end up in some debacle.
 
The result is the bastard child of Sanctuary with Nevermore, obviously, but I guess, at this point the band hasn’t managed to perfect their chemistry yet and it might take them another album to get up to speed... the feel is a bit like an album that falls between Sanctuary’s “Into the Mirror Black” and maybe Nevermore’s “Dreaming Neon Black”… ?! But with quite weaker songwriting overall, otherwise, this would have been a blinding masterpiece…
 
On occasion songs manage to impress... like with the abrasive opener “Arise & Purify” that sounds like mid-era Nevermore at their best… only with a decidedly more “Sanctuaryan” riff, going on... the band tries to keep the momentum going with “Let the Serpent Follow Me” which attempts to be even simpler – and really walks a thing line drawing influences from both bands works… but, with the exception of some interesting parts it sounds like an attempt... that unfortunately fails.
 
“Exitium (Anthem of the Living)” signals a marked improvement, even if it feel like another by the numbers “Neverctuary” piece… there’s also a vocal part that seems to borrow a bit from Garbage’s “Push it” rhythm… believe it or not… which seems to be a rather weird notion… but I would consider it one of the better, more memorable numbers.
 
“Question Existence Fading” again coming on the heels of a good track, fails to follow up, in an equally impressive fashion, even if its chorus, seems to form a decent basis of a good song.
 
“I am Low” is a sLOW, self-wallowing number that seems to be wandering in a way not to dissimilar to “Dreaming Neon Black” in a sense… with maybe not so thick an atmosphere, but when it gets “higher” it sort of gets a lot more interesting.
 
“Frozen” is the first number in many that feels properly like a “thrashy” more old-school number, where the band, is more “Sanctuary” than anything else… even if the modernist influences, are still present.
 
“One Final Day (Sworn to Believe)” sees the resuming of the slow balladry and the whole “Lenore” lamentation that seems to be lifted from Poe’s “Raven” and be reoccurring… through the album (ie also featured in – “Exitium”).
 
“The World is Wired” is another riff intense number, that initially seems like it’s going to gain momentum and become fast but, then right when you would expect it to do so, just decides to tease you by slowing down again and vice versa…
 
“The Dying Age” is a rather sickening and heavy handed number, but it ultimately fails to make a lasting mark…
 
Finally, “Ad Vitam Aeternam” is a simple, rather poignant one and a half minute intro to the title track… “The Year the Sun Died” an epic, lyrical & lamenting song that really is quite… stirring in that it’s so sorrowful and bleak and it doesn’t even have a “release” it just finishes like that…. yikes... “The world is dead – as is my heart”…
 
I still think that this first effort of reviving Sanctuary is quite flawed, in many places... it has a lot of nice moments, but firstly, an old time fan will have to forget that he might be getting the Sanctuary of old back... instead he’s getting a sort of postmodern version of what Sanctuary could have been if they had remained together… maybe but then again that’s all through the prism of “Nevermore’s success”...
 
So for the purists among you, you can take it or leave it. There are some nice melodies and the usual pretty “heavy” stuff, which WD, gets in... on occasion.
 
Aw, there’s also a Door’s cover, on “Waiting for the Sun” on the special edition, that’s probably one of the best Doors songs ever, that would probably make the deceased members of the band, slightly roll on their graves, rock ‘n roll that is... cheeky hahaha!
 
But overall, it’s a bit of a hit and miss affair, that probably is a little better than average, but not as amazing as it could have been. I suspect, that with a bit more “clarity” and a proper tour of this material, and establishing themselves as a legitimate “new” band again, Sanctuary should be able to progress and maybe cover up the loss of Nevermore as well, because the style they have assumed seems to totally cover both “bases” but leave some things to be desired as well. Not quite a triumph or a tragedy then, but a bit of both.

close support grande rock & "like" our fb page