Released: 2010, Stormspell Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
The Sacramento, California based cult metal act, Sentinel Beast - fronted by a female named Debbie Gunn, doesn´t need much introduction, do they? The band released their only album titled DEPTHS OF DEATH via Roadrunner Records in 1986, and broke up when Michael Spencer (bass) joined Flotsam and Jetsam, replacing Jason Newsted upon his departure to Metallica. Debbie Gunn departed for Chicago shortly after to front Znowhite, then relocated to Europe to join the all female thrash pioneers, Ice Age.
As we all love old metal gems and rare recordings from bands´ old times in general, now Sentinel Beast´s 4 demos have finally been made available on 1 CD under a very fitting moniker, UP FROM THE ASHES. This demo collection of Sentinel Beast contains 12 songs altogether, summing up nicely how they sounded back in the day, and developed and refined their sound from their 1st 3-track demo KILL THE WITCH 1984 demo to their last 2 demos (so-called ´Metal Massacre´ 1985 demo and ´Metal Blade´ 1987 demo) that were obviously meant for the promotional use for labels only.
Whereas the band´s KILL THE WITCH demo (recorded in 1984), was mostly NWOBHM orientated - with some light bits of speed and thrash metal meshed together, Beast´s next 5-track demo DEPTHS OF DEMO, recorded a year later, was shaping the sound of Sentinel Beast and taking it further from what was expected from them on their debut album, with the same title. Maiden´s influence as a part of Sentinel Beast´s sound was still involved somewhat strongly, but in their evolution during the mid eighties, the band members had clearly obtained a more aggressive and meaner sound for themselves - the kind of sound that connected them to the speed and thrash metal genre at that time. They sounded quite an unique act back in those days - and they managed to make me fall in love with Maiden-tinged speed/thrash metal. They´ve got the needed energy, power and vibe that made them so special to me when I got to hear DEPTHS OF DEATH album in 1986. I remember expecting a follow-up album from our beloved beasts, which unfortunately never was meant to happen.
Therefore getting all their demos released under this beautifully packaged CD (with well written liner notes, lyrics, rare photos taken from the Beast, etc.) - after more than 20 years since they were recorded, made me kind of curious how they were before and after DEPTHS OF DEATH (which in my opinion has always remained a pretty underrated speed/thrash metal recording). I really value all the hard work that Stormspell Records does for bringing out many of these rare underground gems back to record shops´ shelves again. Without them I doubt that I would hardly have gotten any chance to hear this excellent demo collection of Sentinel Beast for example. It´s like a pot of gold on the other end of the rainbow. Eighties speed/thrash metal (with all those Maiden-ish vibes naturally) can hardly get any better than this, believe me! Hope their long awaited 2nd album will continue strengthening Beast´s legacy as one of California´s finest speed/thrash metal acts, but of course time will tell...