Lost recordings are rarely that. Unreleased maybe, not good enough at the time perhaps but rarely actually lost. That said, every so often a real gem from back in the day is unearthed in some far flung place, given a bit of a polish up and released into an expectant world.
Sanctuary were one of the “almost big names” of Thrash from the late 80s. Dave Mustaine’s pet band, they first announced their arrival on the UK scene when they hit these shores with Megadeth “back in the day”, and they remain one of the best support bands to grace the stage at the Edinburgh Playhouse.
Saw them live, bought the album on the way out of the venue, never got bored listening to it. Refuge Denied created an immediate impact that has remained to this day. Nope, there was no one quite like Sanctuary.
The band made their triumphant comeback a couple of years back, but for their latest full length release we’re taken waaaaayy back in time with the unveiling of some recently rediscovered material from the days before Refuge Denied made its way into our consciousness.
So, for us long in the tooth Sanctuary fans, this is a big deal.. A find that gives an insight into the band before anyone really knew who they were. According to guitarist Lenny Rutledge “I found the masters in my barn”.
So, yep, an ACTUAL barn find.
“The second floor of the barn is on top of our current recording studio and is very rough and open to the elements. The ground level is where we recorded the bulk of “The Year The Sun Died”. We found the masters in an unknown box in the barn, full of water and just wasting away.”
Producer Zeuss was drafted in to get the tracks into shape for release without polishing them up too much, and it’s a track he’s managed brilliantly. Most of the tracks on Inception went on in one form or another to make up Refuge Denied, and for the most part the versions on here are simpler but dripping with soon-to-be-realised potential.
It’s always interesting hearing previous versions of tracks you know well, every little difference from the final versions stands out, and it takes a couple of listens before you shake the feeling that it doesn’t sound “right”.
Although these may indeed be demos, they’re certainly not too noticeably rough round the edges. If this was presented as a new studio album there’s nothing that would scream to the uninitiated that these tracks have spent 30 years in a puddle…
Of the songs that would later make it onto Refuge Denied, the stand out for me is Sanctuary’s take on White Rabbit which is given an extra-trippy treatment that works really well with the particular subject matter of the song.
Inception is literally old school, even down to the impressive cover art, but it’s infused with a freshness and energy that’s still as vibrant today as it was when they were recorded. Soldiers Of Steel and Battle Angels aren’t massively different to the versions we know and love, but it’s the addition of “new” tracks like Dream Of The Incubus and I Am Insane that makes this well worth checking out.
Certainly keep us ticking over until the next studio album. Go check it out.