It has been over 2 decades since we last saw an album from the legendary Power/Thrash Metal band, Sanctuary. Warrel Dane and Jim Shepard went on to form the also legendary band, Nevermore. But in 2010 Sanctuary officially reformed and 4 years later the world has received the latest offering from Sanctuary, The Year The Sun Died. Does Sanctuary still live up to their former glory? Let's find out!
The album begins with the first single, Arise And Purify. It is a great fast and heavy way to start off an album fans have been waiting so very long for. Dane's unforgettable voice still shines through as clear as ever. The solos are amazing and everything feels so fresh, as if the band never left. The next track, Let The Serpent Follow Me, has a bit more dynamics to it. When it is fast, it is fast, when it is mellow, it is mellow. Overall, a killer song. Exitium (Anthem Of The Living) is up next and it starts off with a quite epic intro that leads into the early day Sanctuary sound. For those that love the mid-tempo Sanctuary, this song was written for you. Question Existence Fading sounds like straight up Nevermore, which is not a bad thing (and let's be honest, Sanctuary and Nevermore go hand in hand). A very solid, straight up rocker. I Am Low is one of the few mellow moments of the entire album. The music brings back the memory of the song The Legacy by Testament. A great break from all the heaviness and thrashy moments that fill up the rest of the album. The next song up is Frozen, which is a killer in your face Thrash song. This song feels right at home with something off Dead Heart In A Dead World or Enemies Of Reality by Nevermore and the chorus is so, so catchy. One Final Day (Sworn To Believe) is actually an acoustic driven track. It still features some electric guitar leads and drums, but Dane and the acoustic guitars drive this song. More upbeat than I am Low, so it's not really fair to call this one a ballad, just acoustic and awesome. Up next is The World is Wired. It starts with a lone guitar ala Judas Priest and leads to a nice mid tempo hard rocker filled with double bass and soaring vocals. The Dying Age is more somber and a bit slower track. In a way it almost feels like a track off Alice In Chain's self titled album (if it had a tinge double bass). The acoustic instrumental interlude, Ad Vitam Aetemam, fills up the next track. It progressively gets heavier and heavier until it unleashes into the title track The Year The Sun Died. The somber guitar continues in this song and helps give the song the most epic feeling in the entire album. The song is filled with despair and no hope, a great feeling for the entire album. The album closes with Waiting For The Sun. This is another song that kinda has that late 80's Power Thrash feel mixed with Alice In Chains (Seattle style) Hard Rock. A different ending than one would expect from Sanctuary, but a very nice fit.
The Year The Sun Died is a much different album than one would have expected from Sanctuary. It is a bit more diverse in sound (especially in the second half). It is filled with Power, Thrash, Hard Rock and great acoustic passages that makes this a fun listen. One thing to note about the entire album is that whenever Dane hits his infamous falsetto vocals, it is used more as background vocals, rather than in the forefront like the bands first two albums Refuge Denied and Into The Mirror are known for. Don't let that ruin it for you, those falsettos are still awesome! Now let's all hope for a full fledged 2015 Sanctuary World Tour!
Sanctuary- The Year The Sun Died available October 14th via Century Media
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Alestorm has been the forefront of Pirate Metal since their inception in 2004, and to the worldwide public in 2008 with the release of their debut album, Captain Morgan's Revenge. Alestorm has return to shore with their 4th album, Sunset On The Golden Age. Alestorm has been written off as one trick ponies, but when you look past the lyrical content, they are so much more and Sunset on The Golden Age proves this fact.
The album starts with Walk The Plank. It starts off with triumphant, then goes straight into some thrashy goodness. The whole song sounds like it would be perfect as an opener for an Alestorm set. One very noticeable thing that is indeed a positive thing, and continues through the entire album, is that the keyboards are actually keyboards now. it's not just the accordion sounds that usually take over Alestorm songs. While the accordion sounds are still there at times, they not used nearly as much as past album. This really helps diversify their sound. Having Elliot Vernon on keys definitely helps diversify the sound. Up next is Drink, which is the lead single off the album. The lyrics are very quirky and sum up part of the Alestorm philosophy "WE ARE HERE TO DRINK YOUR BEER!". This song while a bit poppier than some fans would be used to, this should come as no shock. it's just a fun straight forward, drinking song to drink jig to. Magnetic North is the next song. it actually starts off very folky, which is kind of a shock for the band. The band is classified as a Folk Metal band, but don't usually have traditional folk instrumentation. The song is midtempo, but gets have danceable. One thing that does come as a shock is that the song actually features a breakdown section. it'll be interesting to see how that pans out live seeing Pirates throwing down for a little bit. *I obtain 20% of the sales if Alestorm makes a shirt that says "Walk The Plank, Bro!"* Overall again it's a fun song that will get the crowd jumping live. 1741 (The Battle of Cartagena) starts off 8 Bit style before kicking off into the song. the second longest song on the album does feel quite epic. This features Alestorm doing the best Pirate Metal they can do with all their signature notions all while giving you a history lesson about The Battle Of Cartagena. the song also features some growls in the middle as well, which is a rarity for the band up to this point. The song also features one of the best solos on the album performed by Dani Evans. After the mid paced attack that just happened, Mead From Hell takes over now and it is quite fast and very Power Metalish. If the title wasn't a dead give away, this song is about mead that leads you onto a mystical journey to Hell. This ranks up quite well in Alestorm's quirky drinking songs, fast fun and full of alcohol. Surf Squid Warfare is possibly the strangest song on the album. It is essentially Alestorm performing Surf Rock and Power Metal. it's quite surprising the band hasn't made a song like this before, but they finally did. it's hard to listen to it and not have a smile on your face. Next up is Quest for Ships. This is the most Power Metal song on the album. it feels like it harkens back to mid-era Sonata Arctica. The song is about...well what else...a quest for ships to sail the seas. It's another one of Alestorm's fast paced fun songs that will be fun to mosh to in the pit. Wooden Leg! comes up now and it is the shortest, and possibly fastest song on the album. By this point in the album if Mead from Hell, Surfing Squids and ship quests weren't whimsical enough for you, this song takes it up another notch. This song also features the only Blast Beats on the album (nicely played by Peter Alcorn). Once again, a great song to put a smile on your face. Hangover is up next and this is where Alestorm could have possibly jumped the shark (haha, references). As fun as the song is, it almost feels like an Electronic Dance Party song. It's as if Ke$ha wrote an Alestorm song. Only a band like Alestorm could pull off writing a song like this and still have their fans eat it up (or maybe they will hate it, only time will tell). Finally we reach the longest song ever written by Alestorm, the title track, Sunset On the Golden Age. The band isn't normally known for writing long songs (the longest being around the 7 minute mark. This takes epic to a whole new level at 11:26. This may be the finest song in Alestorm's history. It captures everything about the more serious side of the band. Heavy riffs, excellent songwriting, well thought out lyrics, and overall, a phenomenal song. This is the perfect ending song to a live set,right before the encores.
Alestorm stepped up their game with Sunset On the Golden Age. Lots of diversity, amazing songs, the most hilarious moments in the band's catalog, and overall 10 perfect Alestorm songs (Seriously though, Hangover will be the band's watershed moment. People will love it or hate it with a passion.) Alestorm, like fine alcohol, only improves with age, and this is the band at top form. Now go see them live when they start touring behind the album!
Alestorm- Sunset On The Golden Age Available August 1st via Napalm Records
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)