Sanctuary had splintered shortly after guitarist Jeff Loomis replaced Sean Blosl. And that was it, for the most part. Nevermore, with bassist Jim Sheppard in tow, continued on, writing technical thrash awesomeness in the form of full-length demo Utopia and the 1994 Demo. Meanwhile, Epic Records weren’t hearing Nevermore’s potential. “Nevermore were still held under contract [with Epic],” Dane sighs. “We sent massive amounts of demos to them. The A&R guy at Epic would always say, ‘Frankly, we were expecting something grungier.’ But we bounced back pretty well. We worked our asses off to get Nevermore off the ground.”
Even so, the specter of Sanctuary haunted the newly formed Nevermore. So much so that when Nevermore embarked on its first ever tour with Blind Guardian in 1995—shortly after the release of the group’s self-titled Century Media debut—they played Sanctuary songs, some of which went over better than ‘What Tomorrow Knows’ or ‘The Sanity Assassin’. “It didn’t really surprise me,” laughs Dane. “When the band was over we were more popular. When Nevermore were first touring we played a lot of Sanctuary songs. It was like, ‘Fuck! People like these songs better than our new songs.’ We break up and get more popular. How’s that for irony?”
Nevermore went on to greatness. The group released seven full-lengths from 1992 to 2010. Countless world tours, Billboard chart entries—The Obsidian Conspiracy cracked the Billboard Top 200 and entered the Billboard Heatseekers chart at #1, while Enemies Of Reality smashed the Top Independent Albums chart at #19—and a rabid fanbase helped Nevermore generate significant gravity among metal’s elite. The group took a short break in 2008 to see solo albums from Dane and Loomis ushered by Century Media. Dane went one in direction on Praises to the War Machine and Loomis entirely in another with Zero Order Phase.
Between Sanctuary’s untimely demise, Nevermore rising to power, and individual efforts by the group’s senior leadership going on to grand acclaim old business remained unfinished, however. “We got along really well when we weren’t in the band,” says Rutledge. “We had fun together. There was no stress. We didn’t see each other often. Maybe a few times a year. Then, in 2008 we got a call for ‘Battle Angels’ to be used in the Brütal Legend video game. We started talking to each other again. I had a song I had written for Warrel. It wasn’t appropriate for the band I was in at the time. So, I told him about it while talking about Brütal Legend. I sent it to him and he really liked it. We went back and forth on re-starting Sanctuary. We decided to play a few reunion shows and had a lot of fun doing it. It felt like the magic had returned.”