SACRED WARRIOR - REBELLION (1988, Intense/Poly Canyon import)

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New but not sealed. Some version of the Japanese import of the album. No Japan OBI strip. 6 panel insert. CUSTOMER REVIEW Imagine: Guitars that blaze with no reserve, while at the same time keeping the good riffs alive. Drums that stay simple but never let up. Skillful, reverberated vocals that melt steel(e). That certain air about an album that makes the discerned listener think "80's!" and throw up the horns instinctively.... These things were part of a style of metal that's now considered stale, untalented, retro, and anything else of the like to many people, shamefully many who are serious fans of metal. The style is straight up meat-and-potatoes heavy metal with no frills and no apologies. A forgotten flag proudly carried in the past by bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Accept, Queensryche, Saint, W.A.S.P., Stormwitch, Fifth Angel....and Sacred Warrior. Make no mistake, Sacred Warrior's debut, Rebellion, is not black metal, death metal, technical progressive algebra metal, beach metal, astral techno Jupiter moon metal, carpenter metal, symphonic metal, core-metal, coffee mug metal, or anything else except guitar heavy, scream filled, in your face American traditional/power metal in the vein of the masters. In other words, this 1988 album serves as a great reminder of just why most metal fans got into metal in the first place. The songs here are simple, but extremely hooky, and always chock full of ultra great, over the top guitar playing and singing. There'll be no sheep heads flying off the stage, no deep nihilistic misanthropic whitebread message, no 'artful' avante garde snobbiness, no crap at all to be found. What there will be is a lot of banging of head due to the solid songwriting to be found here and trying to sing along with vocalist Rey Parra, a criminally overlooked belter in the style of Geoff Tate and Michael Kiske who can easily hold his own with the giants. Although there is a bit of variation in the overall quality of the songs on Rebellion, there are no real weak ones at all. There is a silly moment or two, such as in the opener, Black Metal - which doesn't seem to have a single thing to do with black metal at all, but does have a good line or two denouncing conformity within metal ('You try so hard to be like everyone else'). A weak melody here and there is also present, but Rey Parra's signature vibrato-drenched screams at the end close it off on a good note. Aside from the B-grade opener every single song is a winner, with some more obvious highlights in some places. Roughly half the album can be classified in the latter group, starting with the third song, Mad, Mad World. This song is simply an unbelievable piece of hard rock influenced, galloping heavy metal. The vocal layering in the chorus is enough to make the song amazing on it's own, but there's also the shredding of guitarist Bruce Swift (easily one of the most underrated metal guitarists), the sledgehammer headbanging part after the second chorus, and some extra virtuosoic vocal work by Parra after the solo.. the man can almost be seen red-faced, singing so hard his vocal cords are sticking out of his throat. Even the lyrics (which speak out about the deceptive and superficial nature of society) are pretty great, which is a good thing. Not that the content itself of the album is bad - there are a lot of uplifting messages of encouragement (Children of the Light, title track), warning (Master of Lies, Stay Away from Evil), and glorification of Jesus Christ (every song). The band's lyric writing ability is simply somewhat pedestrian on this album, so while there is always at least one good line to be found, overall the lyrics are almost too simple and minimalistic. Thankfully, however, they never get awkward or silly, except for a little bit in the aforementioned Black Metal, with the chorus sporting the line, 'Long hair, parted between the eyes/Silk pants, wrapped tight round your thighs/Each day goes by, you're living a dream'. Yes, there's no questioning that it was 1988... Going back to the rest of the songs, not each song is the best of them, but every song has at least one great defining moment in it (usually the chorus) that really helps make the song, which is why Rebellion is such a solid album. Then, some songs are just top quality, such as Mad, Mad World, Stay Away From Evil, which is a shorter song but has some good riffwork and one of the more infectious choruses to be found, Famine, a mid paced song that harkens directly back to Number of the Beast/Piece of Mind era Iron Maiden and features Rey Parra doing his very best Geoff Tate impersonation, and The Heavens are Calling, another galloper with some fiery solos and more catchy vocal work. The interesting thing about the chorus vocals on this album - like on The Heavens are Calling - is that many times instead of singing different verses with a set melody, there will be only one or two actual lines in the chorus, but introduced by 'general' vocalizations, like a 'Whooaaa, ohh ohhh', which helps give Rebellion a refreshing flair. There is also Children of the Light and Master of Lies, both excellent speed metal songs with big chorus hooks carried by Parra's huge vocal range and Bruce Swift laying down riff after riff and solo after solo. On a small negative note, the drums sound a bit odd on the faster songs - that's not to say that Tony Velazquez does a bad job behind the drumkit, but the drums just seem to be more engineered for the more midpaced, anthemic songs, and so when there's double bass pounding, the drum triggers stick out like a sore thumb. Of course, it could just be chalked up as part of the album's charm depending on your opinion. The rest of the songs could be considered average, but not filler, which is important when an album has only 11 songs or under. Regardless, there's still something incredibly cool about each one, like the big riff/solo set in the closer, Sword of Victory. Rebellion is the kind of album everybody who enjoys metal should have at least a few of. There's nothing exactly like being refreshed with straight up well played heavy metal and that's what Sacred Warrior plays best.

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