12 a.m.

Rick Pendergast (git), Mick Pendergast (voc), Eric Barbasso (bs), Adam Barbasso (git), Mike Portnoy (dr)

format: LP Side A:
  1. Vicious Cycles
  2. The Butcher
  3. The Slasher
  4. The Jester

Side B:

  1. Streets & Alleys
  2. 12 a.m.
  3. Princess Down 20
  4. Lace & Leather
year: 1986
country: USA
label: Insan Records
#: Insan 1
insert: no
edition: ?
rarity: 8/10


I truly love this album. So much in fact, that I would rate it as one of my top favourite US privates. Guitars like a rusty sawblade to your vertebrae and riffing that grabs you by the neck and forces you to bang your fucking eyeballs out - in each and every of the 8 songs! The vocal style of Mick Pendergast is yet another thing I enjoy. His cool yet menacing voice comes off as a more restrained young James Hetfield and blends perfectly with their Rock-hard 'Riff Metal'. On powerful-on-the-gigahertz-scale METAL pieces like "Vicious Cycles", "12 a.m." and the incredible "The Jester" they almost come close to BROCAS HELM-godliness (in the Frisco-trio's most straightforward moments) while 200-titanium-rhinos-on-the-face-of-the-sun fakk-off-HEAVY monsters like "The Slasher" and "Princess Down 20" tangent PENTAGRAM-heaviness (well, more like DEVIL'S CHILDE actually). If there ever was an album meant to be played LOUD! it's this one. Productionwise "12 a.m." may be two inches away from a disaster, but the raw, distorted mixing doesn't ruin the album in a Satan's Host kind of way, instead it just makes it different, like a massive wall of sound crumbling down on you like manna from hell. It could be the best basement demo ever recorded, and once you've pulverized your speaker membranes with INNER SANCTUM, the distorted-to-bloody-hell guitars will sound totally natural and in place. Now where do I squeeze in the obvious BLITZKRIEG-comparison then? Hm..

In 1994 Walls Down Records from Luxembourg re-released this album on CD, with 4 bonus tracks consisting of a demo from '87. Unfortunately the whole affair is let down by the muffled sound on the LP recording. It sounds like it was mastered from a 2nd generation tape copy at best, and the raw energy of the original release is reduced to the sloppy mess it is rumoured to be. It's still a release worth picking up because of the demo which is almost in the same league as the album, especially the epic "The Haunting".

If you by any chance are in possession of this record and think I've overrated it, I dare you to give it a spin right now and then call me a liar in public. As a final footnote I'd like to point out the irony of how INNER SANCTUM most likely will be remembered as the band where DREAM THEATRE's Mike Portnoy began his skinwhipping career. Sheer tragedy since DREAM THEATRE are miles behind the guy said to have caught a glimpse of INNER SANCTUM's taillights fading beyond the horizon of steel. OFFICIAL!

Listen to this record here. (provided by the Vibrations Of Doom webzine)

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