Originally released in 1986 via Metal Blade in USA and in The Netherlands via Roadrunner Records, Sentinel Beast’s classic debut Depths of Death will emerge from the crypts of old school thrash. On 2nd March 2015 Irish label Marquee Records will unleash this thunderous beast of an album.
Although they have been largely overlooked by most mainstream-leaning heavy metal historians, the cultists who truly live and breathe the old-school stuff wave the flag of Sentinel Beast.
Led by female vocalist Debbie Gunn, Sentinel Beast formed in Sacramento, California, in 1984 with bassist Michael Spencer, drummer Scott Awes, and guitarists Greg Williams and Jerry Frazier fleshing out the lineup. The group wedded the melodic yet aggressive flair of NWOBHM bands such as Angel Witch and Cloven Hoof with the propulsive rhythmic attack favoured by the early thrash movement. After recording three demos in their first couple of years together, Sentinel Beast started gaining a buzz within the underground metal community, with Slayer’s Kerry King and Omen’s Kenny Powell becoming two of the group’s loudest cheerleaders. But Sentinel Beast’s biggest champion was Brian Slagel, the founder and CEO of Metal Blade Records, the Southern California-based label that helped launch the careers of heavy metal icons like Metallica, Voivod, Cannibal Corpse, and the aforementioned Slayer. Slagel would go on to sign Sentinel Beast to his then fledgling label, further cementing the already growing reputation as one of North America’s most promising speed metal acts. With guitarists Barry Fischel and Mark Koyasako replacing Williams and Frazier, a revitalised Sentinel Beast entered Track Record studios in North Hollywood with famed producer Bill Meteyor (D.R.I., Sacred Reich) to record their debut album, Depths of Death.
Released in 1986, the album found the quintet delivering on the promise of their demos. Blistering thrash assaults like the opening title track and “Evil Is the Night” compliment the moodier cuts that also appear on the album including the instantly memorable “The Keeper”. A faithful cover of Iron Maiden’s “Phantom of the Opera” also proves to be a fine addition to the album, paying tribute to one of Sentinel Beast’s spiritual brethren.
Despite sharing the stage with artists like Megadeth, Motörhead, and Exodus, Sentinel Beast would go on to break up after Spencer left the fold to replace Jason Newsted in Flotsam & Jetsam, who himself had quit his band to join Metallica after the death of Cliff Burton. After Sentinel Beast split up in 1987, Gunn moved to Chicago to front Znowhite, eventually relocating to Europe to join the all-female thrash outfit, Ice Age.
After lying dormant for 20 years, Sentinel Beast awoke in 2007 with Gunn again leading the charge. Since then, the band has toured Europe and Mexico, and released the Risen Demo EP (2009), and a compilation of material from the ‘80s called Up From The Ashes via StormSpell Records. Still a commanding live act, Sentinel Beast continues to floor audiences throughout the world on both large festival stages and inside sweaty heavy metal clubs.