Sanctuary – “Refuge Denied” (1987)

Sanctuary crafted a dark brew of power and thrash metal with the 1987 album Refuge Denied.  Sanctuary’s sound calls to mind bits and pieces from bands ranging from Queensryche to Agent Steel to Judas Priest to Megadeth.  However, I find Refuge Denied to sound a bit sour and cold to these ol’ ears.  The real obstruction for me, as far as my level of enjoyment goes, lies with the vocals of Warrel Dane.  His over-dramatic faux accent, and his incessant use of falsetto just seems a little ridiculous at times.  Not King Diamond-level absurd, but still a little too silly for me.  Dude just shrieks and shrieks.  I like a falsetto here and there, but unless you can deliver it as smooth as silk like the guy in Zebra (one of the best), it’s best if used sparingly.  Refuge Denied is one of those albums that I really feel like I should enjoy more, but repeated listens still leave me somewhat unsatisfied.  The “quiet” production doesn’t do me any favors, either.  Battle Angels, Die For My Sins, and Soldiers Of Steel are some real quality cuts, though I never feel the need to reach for the “repeat'” button once they are through.  I also think the cover of White Rabbit is pretty damn cool.  On this track Dane does a dead-on impersonation of Grace Slick, which only shows me that he could do a lot with his voice that he chose NOT to do on the rest of the album, instead just going over-the-top with the ear-raping dramatics 100% of the time.  There’s no question of talent with Sanctuary, just a question of choices.  Awesome cover art, though.  My score: B-

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