SANCTUARY – Into The Mirror Black [30th Anniversary Edition]

SANCTUARY - Into the Mirror Black (30th Anniversary Edition)
  • 9/10
    SANCTUARY - Into The Mirror Black [30th Anniversary Edition] - 9/10


Century Media Records
Release date:  October 9, 2020

User Review
9.5/10 (1 vote)

The Backstory

On February 27, 1990, Seattle, Washington Power Metal band Sanctuary released their sophomore effort Into the Mirror Black.  By all accounts it was the band’s defining album.  Of course 1990 wasn’t the best of years for Metal.  The musical landscape was changing.  By the time Sanctuary got off the road in support of the album, the industry was embracing Grunge music.  Internal issues eventually led to the band calling it quits. 30 years later, Into the Mirror Black gets the anniversary treatment, complete with added demos and a bonus live show.  The remastering of both discs were done by prominent Heavy Metal producer Zeuss.

[Listen to our Lenny Rutledge interview HERE]

The Album

The album’s first and only single released was “Future Tense.”  While this ominous and dark song was written at the tail end of the ’80, its subject matter could have easily been pulled from today’s headlines.  The chorus mixes Warrel Dane’s vocal highs and lows, while the twin guitar duo of Lenny Rutledge and Sean Blosl tear it up at the break.  The driving drums of Dave Budbill propel “Taste Revenge.”  Dane is devious and manacle in his delivery as he spews vitriol towards his enemy.  “Epitath” is a haunting ballad that mixes clean and distorted guitars as the emotional story shifts.  Dane’s wailing can easily go toe to toe with King Diamond’s.

A somber marching beat leads the charge on “Eden Lies Obscured.”  The pace switches back and forth as Sanctuary ponders if war brings peace.  The album’s title track “Into the Mirror Black” is a riff and lick show courtesy of Rutledge and Blosl.  Dane’s chorus is a catchy little section that reminds us that we are prisoners to our own fears.  The prospect of war with foreign nations was a prominent fear of the late 1980s, and that is reflected in the lyrics of “Seasons of Destruction.”  Monster riffage and pounding drums command “One More Murder.”  The track delves into the ravages of drug addiction.  The demo for “I Am Insane” could have fit in well with the rest of the album had it been added.

For this 30th anniversary edition of Into the Mirror Black, Sanctuary resurrects their very limited 1990 live EP Into The Mirror Live / Black Reflections.  Originally 6 tracks, this 1990 live show has been expanded to 10 songs.  The quality is excellent.  It sounds like it could have been recorded yesterday.  Everyone in the band is on their game.  The set list is just the right mix of their first and second albums.  The band’s energy and Dane’s powerful vocals never let up from beginning to end.  Even the questionable cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” doesn’t seem out of place.  The live version of “Battle Angels” is even more compelling than the studio original and it brings the house down.

The Verdict

Into the Mirror Black is a dark and timeless piece of Heavy Metal nostalgia.  30 years have passed, but the music sounds as sonically modern as can be.  The lyrics are still relevant and relatable today.  The bonus live CD is outstanding.  It truly shows what could have been for Sanctuary if it weren’t for the inside and outside circumstances that fractured them.  Into the Mirror Black might just be the finest moment for all involved.


Disc 1 – Into the Mirror Black

  1. Future Tense
  2. Taste Revenge
  3. Long Since Dark
  4. Epitaph
  5. Eden Lies Obscured
  6. The Mirror Black
  7. Seasons of Destruction
  8. One More Murder
  9. Communion

Star Track Studio Session 1989

10. Future Tense
11. I Am Insane
12. Mirror Black

Disc 2 – Black Reflections Revisited – Live at The Country Club
Reseda, CA, May 12, 1990

  1. Eden Lies Obscured
  2. Seasons of Destruction
  3. Die For My Sins
  4. Future Tense
  5. White Rabbit
  6. Taste Revenge
  7. Long Since Dark
  8. Sanctuary
  9. One More Murder
  10. Battle Angles

1990 Sanctuary was:

Warrel Dane – Vocals
Lenny Rutledge – Guitar
Sean Blosl – Guitar
Jim Sheppard – Bass
Dave Budbill – Drums

2020 Sanctuary is:

Joseph Michael – Vocals
Lenny Rutledge – Guitars
George Hernandez – Bass
Dave Budbill – Drums


  • George Dionne

    George was a contributor here at Metal Express Radio, reviewing albums and conducting interviews, out of Massachusetts, USA. George has contributed to numerous music related websites and blogs, and even managed his own from 2004-2009. George's first assignment was covering a live show by the mighty GWAR. By contrast his later assignments featured Judas Priest, Van Halen, and Bon Jovi. George was also the front man for the South Eastern Massachusetts cover band Sound Tower from 2009-2015.  Sound Tower played 300+ shows across MA and had two original songs on the Cape Cod radio station PIXY 103. George enjoys a good whiskey, scotch, and/or bourbon and fights crime in his spare time.

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