Sanctuary – “Into The Mirror Black” (1989)

SanctuaryI found this baby at a pawn shop a few years back for only a buck, so I just had to scoop it up.  At the time, I already owned Sanctuary’s debut, Refuge Denied (1987).  I thought Refuge Denied was a decent album, but not so much that I felt the need to search for Into The Mirror Black with any sense of urgency.  But for a $1, I just couldn’t pass it up.  Back then, I listened to the CD a few times but wasn’t really impressed, so I shelved it.  However, I recently decided to take another crack at Into The Mirror Black.  To my surprise, the album has started to grow on me.  I still have my misgivings, however, and they almost all have to do with the vocals.  More on that in a moment.  But let me first say that fans of Judas Priest’s Painkiller (1990) will probably LOVE this album, as the two albums are sonically similar.  I will say, however, that Into The Mirror Black has more thrashy riffing than Painkiller.  (Remember, thrash was king at the time.)  Furthermore, the lyrical tone of Into The Mirror Black is ultra-serious, grim, and cynical (mostly concerning society’s shittiness).

As for the vocals, Warrel Dane is just too damn dramatic for my taste.  Their isn’t a syllable uttered that Dane doesn’t over-sell.  His theatrical enunciation is just too much, too often.  It’s almost as if he can’t help but show off every tool in his vocal arsenal in every song.  This guy’s melodrama borders on comical.  If you have ever listened to Jack Black parody heavy metal in some of his Tenacious D bits — it’s almost as if he’s “doing a Warrel Dane”.  Even so, the album gets better with repeated listens.  Dane’s performance starts to feel less and less unsettling.  But still… take it down a notch bro!  My score: B

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