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Released: 1998, Epic/CBS Records
CLASSIC PICK OF THE MONTH - Feb. 2001
As I’m sure all you Nevermore fans are aware, this is where it all began... Refuge Denied was Warrel Dane and Jim Sheppard’s first offering to the Metal world. Even then, Warrel and Jim (along with guitarists Sean Blosl and Lenny Rutledge and drummer Dave Budbill) were taking a more modern approach to traditional Heavy Metal. Unfortunately, because there was a slight Thrash influence in their music, Sanctuary were often lumped in with many of the second-rate Thrash Metal bands that were around at the time and because of this went largely unnoticed. If Dave Mustaine hadn’t produced their album they might’ve disappeared entirely. The fact that Metal was starting it’s slow descent into "uncoolness" also went against the band’s potential success. After only one more album, 1990's Into the Mirror Black, Sanctuary called it quits.
I first heard Sanctuary on Much Music’s Power Hour (R.I.P.) about 10 years ago. I immediately fell in love with "Future Tense" and had to get the CD. Of course, after getting Into the Mirror Black, I had to get Refuge Denied as well. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. Refuge... starts off with the Priest-inspired "Battle Angels" and from there just flows brilliantly into the pseudo-doomy "Termination Force", the up-tempo "Die For My Sins" (a classic tune), "Soldiers of Steel", etc... The whole damn album is great in my opinion, except for one song... The cover of Jefferson Airplane’s "White Rabbit" seems totally out of place (But I guess that’s why stereo manufacturers put a ‘skip’ button on their CD players, huh?).
So for anyone who’s a fan of Nevermore and is curious about their history or is just a fan of good American-styled Heavy Metal, Refuge Denied is definitely an album worth tracking down and purchasing. But in all honesty, I have to say that I liked Sanctuary better than Nevermore and would have loved for these guys to have stayed together. And with said, let the booing and hissing commence! ;-)
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