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Refuge Denied. A very nice example of US power metal, with some of the best falsettos I’ve heard given by Warrel Dane. This album starts off very strong, kinda slips in the middle, but then pulls it together in the end.
Warrel Dane’s voice is definitely one of a kind, with that “edge” to his falsettos that you hear when you listen to excellent metal singers (Conklin, Midnight, Halford, Breed, Tate), and it fits in perfectly with the music. Sean Blosl and Lenny Rutledge are not exactly riff gods, but the tone that Mustaine gets out of their guitars gives this album its “dark” power metal feeling. Dave Budbill does exactly what is needed for drumming, nothing spectacular. Jim Sheppard gives good bass work throughout the album.
Battle Angels starts out the album and what a song to start off with. Maybe not the best opening song on a debut metal album (Beyond the Black, Evil), but it works extremely well it getting you prepped for the mood of the album. A nice little riff build-up into the starting verse, and then BAM,”Their heathen ways have sealed their DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMM!” Hearing that was the first time I experienced getting annihilated by a shrieking falsetto, and oh how glorious it was. Nifty little chorus, nice solo, all-around solid song. Ending is a little weird, with some Spanish radio segueing into the next song.
Termination Force uses one of metal’s best and oldest tricks, using a nice semi-clean guitar intro and then cranking the amp up to 11 and throwing the riffs in your face. The song then leads into Dane doing some interesting “talking” over the clean guitar before breaking out his godly falsetto. Then the song starts thrashing again and basically repeats this formula till the end of the song. Decent solo, but nothing special.
DIE FOR MY SINS! Probably the best fast song on the album. Excellent harmonizing riff work by Blosl and Rutledge, making this song sound the most traditional off the album, and it works. Really fucking well. Throw in an excellent chorus and more godly falsetto and you’ll be headbanging like a madman.
Soldiers of Steel is my favorite song off the album (No Shit?), and it is a nice slow-burner with the best vocal work on the album. Excellent riff work, tasteful solo, it all comes together on this song. Nice little clean parts keep you excited for the heavy when they roll back around.
Sanctuary has an excellent intro, but the rest of the song fails to match up to what was promised by the intro. Instead of being epic, it kind of just chugs along till the end.
White Rabbit is an excellent interpretation of the Jefferson Airplane song, with a great guitar intro from Mustaine and more ridiculously high vocals from Dane.
Ascension to Destiny is a decent song, although it’s longer than it needs to be.
The Third War showcases more falsettos and some interesting double bass work by Budbill during the verses.
Finally we come to the closer, Veil of Destiny. Excellent acoustic guitar work leads into Dane giving us some epic vocals which fit perfectly with the song. Interesting Egyptian-themed lyrics with some of the better vocal lines here, with the song picking up about three-quarters of the way through and then exiting out with a great line by Dane:
As I see the sun rise on these ancient sands
My immortal gift lies dying in your hands
Overall it’s an excellent example of traditional/early power-thrash, especially US-style power, with some weak spots here and there that are easily compensated with Dane’s godly vocals.