"Into the Mirror Black" (Epic; 1990)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Prior to Nevermore, Warrel Dane and Jim Sheppard cut their teeth in Sanctuary. Sanctuary owe a great debt to Megadeth's Dave Mustaine, who assisted the band in getting their record deal and subsequent production help on their debut. "Into The Mirror Black" was Sanctuary's second, and unfortunately, last album.

"Into The Mirror Black" also owes a great debt to the Seattle-styled metal of Queensryche with more speed metal and thrash influences rather than quasi-progressive influences. The mix that Sanctuary achieve is a dark blend of metallic riffing and power metal styled tunes that easily paint pictures of what early Nevermore would become. 

Nearly every song of the nine tracks is a solidly written and performed tune that carries a measured intensity. Dane's lyrics, given his track record with Nevermore, isn't much of a surprise here. Tales of government deceit, international conspiracies, and stark realities mark each song's torrid target of Dane's wrath for all that is wrong in this wretched world.

In retrospect (author's note: I'm writing this in 2001), Sanctuary is exactly what I wished I was hearing in 1990, but never got a chance to. I've always been drawn to music that has a darker edge to it and Sanctuary fits the bill perfectly. Sanctuary was the antithesis to all the cookie-cutter pop-metal that glutted the airwaves in the late '80s (only to be killed off by grunge in the early '90s and dragging most good metal along with it).

"Into The Mirror Black" is an older gem worth getting your hands on.

Sanctuary is Warrel Dane on vocals, Lenny Rutledge and Sean Blosl on guitars, Jim Sheppard on bass, and Dave Budbill on drums.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright 2002 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Sep 2022 13:46:21 -0400 .