written by Athanasios Seferos
The relationship between the greek audience and Seattle-based Sanctuary is that of mutual love and respect. Hence the legendary metal band decided to make a visit to Athens for the third time since reuniting, 6 years ago! The reasons for their two previous appearances, in 2011 and 2015, were their reunion and the release of The Year The Sun Died, respectively. Their current “Summer Tour 2017” is supposed to promote their latest offering, Inception. The fact, however, that said album is essentially a collection of pre-Refuge Denied demos (i.e. not new material) combined with the inevitable absence of many metalheads on vacation (we’re in the middle of the famous greek summer!) led to a poorer-than-expected turnout of fans.
Of course nothing could quail either the band or the attendants of the show, which, after the short instrumental introduction of Ad Vitam Aeternam, saw the onrush of the 5 musicians to the stage, for the inaugural Arise And Purify! The initial surprise caused by the absence of emblematic bass player Jim Sheppard, quickly gave way as two more songs from TYTSD followed. Let The Serpent Follow Me and Exitium (“a song for the ladies” according to Warrel!). It was obvious by now that Sanctuary’s frontman was in great mood! Very communicative and with a keen sense of humour, he would introduce each song during the band’s performance, with his own, very unique way. Next up was a dive in the band’s mythical past: Die For My Sins, Seasons Of Destruction & Future Tense took us all back in the ’80s! The crowd was accompanying Dane, singing every single lyric from the top of their lungs.
The song that chronicles the (mis)adventures of little Alice (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you are clearly reading the wrong report!) was next in the setlist and Sanctuary could very well claim it as their own composition – they really own it! The band returned to their third album for the last time that night, starting with (my personal favorite) Question Existence Fading, then dropping Gagarin club’s high temperature with Frozen and closing the circle with Wally’s favorite, The Year The Sun Died. At that point, there was no way one could have failed to see just how well these guys had rehearsed their material, leading to a very tight and unmistakable performance. Also noted was the seamless blend of the original members with the new additions: George Hernandez (bass) and Attila Vörös (guitar – known from touring with Nevermore and Warrel Dane’s solo band).
We were promised that we would hear nothing but old stuff for the remainder of the show and Sanctuary delivered just that! The first mosh pit broke out during the furious Battle Angels, exactly as Warrel demanded! The Mirror Black, Eden Lies Obscured and things seemed to calm down, but only momentarily because as soon the first notes of the ultra-classic Soldiers of Steel came bursting through the speakers, everyone went ballistic (in good way, of course)! The band left the stage as soon as they finished playing their homonymous song and after a bit of applause from the audience, they returned for the only encore of the show. We knew what was coming; we were expecting it and we were not disappointed: TASTE REVENGE. Fists flying, heads banging, people screaming – everybody in the crowd was going mental! What better way to end a genuinely awesome show?
My final impressions: the whole band gave everything they had. Dave Budbill was hitting his drums harder than most drummers with half his age, Lenny Rutledge was the silent force behind it all and Warrel Dane showed throughout the night why he is still one of the most loved and respected metal singers in the world. Although his strongest asset nowadays is his low register, he wasn’t afraid to try many high pitched screams on older songs. His flawless performance during the first half of the show gave its place to a more conservative approach for the latter part – exceptional in any case.
In the aftermath of the show, the few of us that stayed in the venue and had the chance to talk with the guys, were humbled by their courtesy and incredible generosity – they thanked us more than we thanked them! Finally, during a brief chat, Lenny Rutledge didn’t rule out the possibility of restoring the original master tapes of the (heavily bootlegged) Into The Mirror Live / Black Reflections live album, for an official release!!