Sanctuary, Sorrows Path
Principal Club Theatre, Thessaloniki, Greece

The following text should not be taken as overreaction, lack of self control, effort to make things better than they were and fan based frenzy. What is about to be written is the absolute truth, nothing less, nothing more. To be honest, I’ve always been dreaming of a moment where I have the chance to see my old heroes Sanctuary on stage. Having met Warrel Dane and Jim Sheppard many times, through endless conversations about this subject, it was becoming clear that it could be more possible for hell to freeze over, than see this excellent band live. The sign of the times and the sudden changes in Warrel and Jim’s primary band Nevermore, brought back the rebirth of Sanctuary at first, and then the touring of the band after two decades in the ice. The band had come to Greece when they released ”Into The Mirror Black” in 1990, supporting Fates Warning. I don’t know how it was like then, but I can surely tell you how it was like this holy Saturday.

Sorrows Path from Athens are a power/doom band that at last, are more active than ever and they really seem to enjoy this. On hold for almost a decade, they released their first album last yearsanctuary-live-010_1371-copy called ”The Rough Path Of Nihilism”, an excellent album which made many diehards of the genre very happy. For about forty minutes they gave an honest, heavy and promising performance, having a clear and loud sound by their side and the crowd encouraging them from the beginning. Praises to them for the enormous cover of ”The Edge Of Heaven” by the legendary Candlemass, a song that even Leif Edling stated once that Messiah’s vocals are a bit ”too much” for him on this one. My fellow named singer managed to be in perfect shape, and though his voice is a love/hate situation (depends on if you like the genre or not), he is the most suitable for such a sound. They left the stage knowing they had done their best and it is with great joy I can tell it was one of the best performances of a local band ever.

Sanctuary appear on stage at 22:50 and the marching drum intro of ”Eden Lies Obscured” by drummer Dave Budbill makesanctuary-live-010_1852-copys me suddenly a child again, when I started getting to know them and for a strange reason, I felt I should be more serious on my musical choices. The sound is heavier than I thought, the band sounds perfect and rather tied and well rehearsed, especially the new guitarist Brad Hull fills the place of Sean Blosl in a way we didn’t miss him at all. What I missed was my logic when ”Die For My Sins” entered, where Principal is transformed into a global warming place and moshpit takes over the centre of the venue. I barely keep myself from not expressing strangely and I just bang my head, until Warrel Dane, whose voice is in tremendous shape, commands ”I want chaos, prepare for battle”. It is the moment where tears of joy drop and for the first time in my life I catch myself banging like a maniac and crying in the same time. Things can happen after you’re supposed to be mature. Yeah, right!

”Seasons Of Destruction” comes next and I don’t believe my ears and eyes. So do most of the fans around me, if you asked for predictions, I bet noone would think of such a performance. sanctuary-live-010_1755-copyComing out of our most optimistic theories, Sanctuary play without opponent and the cover on Jefferson Airplane’s ”White Rabbit” sounds twice better live, with Warrel mumbling extra words on the beginning. Lenny Rutledge can’t hide his smile and ”The Mirror Black” is heard in Thessaloniki after 14 years (then on the first Nevermore show with Iced Earth) and chillings are the same. ”Sanctuary” brings back more memories and of course, ”Future Tense” sets the place afire. This is the point where the body starts talking, as the brain becomes numb, so after the end of it, I go centerside just to see them close enough and bang my head until it cannot move. What a better way to start than with ”One More Murder” at first and ”Soldiers Of Steel” shortly after. Time for the second cover of the night, unexpected but amazing.

It is ”Animal Magnetism” by Scorpions that makes me smile a lot more, though never been a big fan of them, the cover sounds ten times better than the original though (at this pointsanctuary-live-010_1792-copy I thought that if Scorpions played metal, they could be the best band of all times). Time for a little ”Refuge Denied” suite with ”Termination Force” at first (VIOLATE, DOMINATE, FEEL THE FORCE TO TERMINATE!) and ”Veil Of Disguise” after that, closing the main set. For the few moments we wait until the band is out again, I see people hardly believing what’s happening. The encore of ”Long Since Dark” and ”Taste Revenge” is the last nail in the coffin of memories, as they become nothing more than reality. It is something I have the LUCK to witness and will remember until I close my eyes. UNDOUBTEDLY! The band leaves in all smiles and pure triumph and the fans are just in a state of shock, most unlikely to vanish away in the future. They showed us our fears, I’m so afraid to look in the mirror after that. I’ll never get over this. NEVER! Not in a million lifetimes. Sanctuary still burns!

Report: Aggelos “Redneck” Katsouras.
Photos: Louis Konstantinou.