Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Motherlode - The Sanctuary
Musical Style: Melodic Hard Rock Produced By: Kit Woolven
Record Label: Active Music Country Of Origin: Sweden
Year Released: 1986 Artist Website:
Tracks: 10 Rating: 80%
Running Time: 46:30
Motherlode - The Sanctuary

Motherlode is a talented secular melodic hard rock band that came out of Sweden in the mid-eighties with a Christian lead vocalist in Sonny Larsson.  And while the bands 1986 Active Music debut The Sanctuary is by no means a Christian album, the lyrics to many of its tracks directly reflect the influence of Larsson's faith.  Larsson proves a classic tenor in the truest sense of the word, displaying jaw dropping unlimited range in putting forth a performance ranking him with the likes of Rob Rock (Impellitteri) and Lance King (Pyramaze, Balance Of Power).  Tom Nilsson does a terrific job contributing the albums stylish blues influenced lead guitar work.  Martin Hedberg is as fine a drummer as I have heard, while bassist Peter Rundstrom makes his presence felt on each track.  Keyboardist Mark Stanway (Magnum) accentuates the bands sound without unnecessarily dominating it.

Producer Kit Woolven did a superlative job in bringing out the best in the bands sound, The Sanctuary showcasing crystal clear and near flawless sonics allowing all the instrumentation to stand out in the mix.

The beautiful album artwork contributed by artist Rodney Matthews portrays a high fantasy setting with a bridge leading to an island in the middle of the mist.

After album opener “Moving Emotion” gradually fades in, a blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards carries it in an upbeat manner to a chorus with a catchy refuse to go away hook.  Nilsson's striking lead guitar work bolsters a forty-five second instrumental passage.

The blues flavored hard rock of "He's Coming Back" would not sound out of place on Bjorn Stigsson's (Leviticus) solo album Together With Friends.  Driven from front to back by a crisp rhythm guitar accentuated by keyboards, the song showcases an anthem-like chorus highlighted by Larsson's soaring vocal delivery.  As its title suggests, "He's Coming Back" touches upon the second coming:

A star was seen over Bethlehem, the savior was born
Spread His words across the land
Crucified He died for man

A thief at night, when He returns
The Saviour will return down to earth with glorious power
Victorious return

A near flawless mix of acoustic guitar and keyboards slowly propels the immaculate "Wise Man" forward until it reaches a catchy chorus buttressed by smooth sounding vocal harmonies.  A stylish guitar solo opens a minute long instrumental passage ending to several seconds of rhythm guitar.  "Wise Man" also talks about the second coming:

Look for the signs of the coming of the Lord
He's coming with our reward
To repay everyone for the deeds they've done
And to live forever with Him

The guitar driven hard rocker “Downtown” advances from the start to a perfectly produced drum sound, a heavy dose of background vocals entering the mix in time to support a quickly moving chorus with a good energetic feel.  A lengthy instrumental passage begins to a drum solo and several seconds of rhythm guitar before Nilsson cuts loose with one of his high quality lead guitar runs.

The acoustic guitar introducing "The Rock Of Ages" gives way to a combination of rhythm guitar and keyboards, the two rapidly driving the song ahead until it reaches a strong melodic flavored chorus.  Nilsson complements the song with thirty seconds of sharp sounding lead guitar work.  "The Rock Of Ages" points the way to the only source of salvation:

In my mind there's an explosion of hope
And it's burning away my dreams
I'm comin' back to reality
And crying for the fountain of life...

"Line Of Thought" opens to a slowly moving blues flavored guitar line only to pick up in pace prior to reaching its first verse.  Maintaining its momentum, the song slows to an acoustic guitar before attaining a chorus carried by an abundance of deep sounding vocal harmonies.  Several seconds of fiery lead guitar work helps put the song over the top.

Subsequent to the bluesy hard rocker "(Singin' About) Rock N' Roll" taking off to a blend of rhythm guitar and organ, vocal harmonies enter the mix in time to underscore a chorus driven at a good upbeat tempo.  I like how the sound of a cheering audience accents the song during its second verse as it details the life of a band on the road:

When we got to the concert hall
We could hear the people shout
We were a little late, but the show was great
And the crowd was goin' wild

Several seconds of bluesy lead guitar opens an instrumental break ending to an organ solo.

An acoustic guitar interwoven with keyboards takes the lengthy (7:57) "Father Of Lies" through its first verse before the rhythm guitar kicks in at the start of the second.  Repeating the same pattern during its third and fourth verse, "Father Of Lies" stops dead in its tracks for an acoustic guitar solo before the rhythm guitar returns to drive a catchy chorus delivered in an emotionally charged manner.  Nilsson's lead guitar is exquisitely combined with an acoustic guitar throughout the minute and a half long instrumental passage that follows.  The subject matter to "Father Of Lies" is self explanatory:

He will make black look white for his own desire
Do not fear, keep your faith against the father of liars

Do not fear but keep your faith
There is a stronger power above
Jesus Christ of Nazareth take my soul and take me home
The albums title track is a very well done acoustic guitar based instrumental coming in at just over two minutes. 

With its upfront mix of crisp rhythm guitar, "Live It Out" is by far the albums heaviest track.  Beginning in quickly moving fashion, the song slows at the start of its first verse only to pick up in pace upon attaining a strong energy-laden chorus.  "Live It Out" points the way to salvation: 

I will do everything to save your soul
Prayin' night and day to make you whole
That He gave his life for you on the cross
The love beyond this earth is of God

Combining an immaculate production job with Larsson's world class lead vocal abilities and the bands top notch musicianship, The Sanctuary makes for a necessary purchase for any fan of melodic hard rock.  Originally released on vinyl back in 1986, The Sanctuary was re-issued on CD in 1995 with five bonus tracks.

Following the release of The Sanctuary, Larsson left Motherlode due to personal reasons.  After turning down Yngwie Malmsteen for the lead vocalist position in his band, he recorded several demos with Swedish hard rockers Charizma.  Larsson contributes lead vocals to six tracks on Bjorn Stigsson's (Leviticus) solo album Together With Friends before joining Leviticus; while he never joined Leviticus, he made three albums with Stigsson in  XT.

Review by: Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: "Moving Emotion" (5:22), "He’s Coming Back" (3:30), "Wise Man" (4:38), "Downtown" (4:57), "The Rock Of Ages" (4:05), "Line Of Thought" (5:34), "(Singin’ About) Rock ‘N Roll" (4:25), "Father Of Lies" (7:57), "The Sanctuary" (2:11), "Live It Out" (3:35)

Sonny Larsson – Lead Vocals
Tom Nilsson – Guitars
Peter Rundstrom – Bass
Martin Hedberg – Drums

Guest Musicians
Mark Stanway – Keyboards

Also Reviewed: Bjorn Stigsson – Together With Friends, XT - Taxfree, XT - Extended Empire

Reference List
Muttillo, Dave.  "The Sanctuary review." White Throne 4 (1988): 18.
Nordstrom, Daniel. "Rockin' With The Levites." Heaven's Metal 17 (1988): 20.


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