True American heavy
Sacred Warrior - Rebellion (Medussa/Intense) 1988
Sacred Warrior - Rebellion (Intense Millennium) 1988/2010
. Black Metal (4:34)
2. Mad, Mad World (4:13)
3. Stay Away From Evil (2:45)
4. He Died (3:50)
5. Children Of The Light (2:35)
6. Rebellion (4:27)
7. Day Of The Lord (3:33)
8. The Heavens Are Calling (4:29)
9. Famine (5:09)
10. Master Of Lies (3:10)
11. Sword Of Victory (3:29)
2010 BONUS TRACKS
12. Day By Day (4:04)
13. Prince Of Peace (3:28)
Ray Parra & Roger Martinez sharing vocalis on "The Flood"
In 1988 the Christian metal movement was really beginning to grow. Bands like Bloodgood and Stryper were already very popular on the scene. However, most new bands were either moving towards the popular thrash or pop metal sounds. There were very few Christian bands exploring the melodic and progressive style of bands like Queensryche, Crimson Glory and Fates Warning. Sacred Warrior were one of the very first notable bands on the scene with "Rebellion" being their debut to the world. Sacred Warrior fused the melodic, progressive metal sound with a heavy American power metal style. Songs like "Children of the Light" and "The Heavens Are Calling" are pure American power metal that would rival Metal
Church, while the title track, "Stay Away from Evil" and "Day of the Lord" are more melodic. Of course, what really makes or breaks a band of this style is the vocalist. Sacred Warrior vocalist Rey Parra is often compared to one of heavy metal's elite singers, Geoff Tate of Queensryche. While the comparison is valid, Parra also has a style and charisma all his own. His high, soaring, glass-shattering voice is the catalyst of Sacred Warrior's sound, combined with a tight rhythm section, amazing guitar solos, searing riffs and memorable songs. The band's lyrical direction stood in direct opposition to the many bands out there using "evil" as a shock tactic to sell records. Their message was a direct attempt to infiltrate the dark heavy metal scene with a message of hope and faith in Jesus. In retrospect, some of the lyrics on "Rebellion" are a bit corny, but certainly no more-so than the hordes of bands promoting a dark, negative message at the time.
I discovered Sacred Warrior the old school way. Back in the 80's I spent a lot of time hanging around record stores. As such, I usually developed friendly relationships with the owners and clerks at those stores who would get to know my musical preferences and would often pull albums aside for me. One day in 1989 I walked into a record store in Albuquerque, NM and the clerk behind the counter handed me a CD copy of "Rebellion". The CD had a hand written sticker placed on it that stated, "very tight power metal band! Excellent!" The clerk also explained that the guitarist was a shredder and that the vocalist was similar to Geoff Tate. Of course I immediately purchased the CD and I was not disappointed. The music lived up to what the store said about it.
The original Intense Records pressings of "Rebellion" were out of print and out of circulation for years. Original pressings of the album on either the Medusa or Intense Records label would routinely sell for record prices on auction sites. In the 1990's, KMG Records put out inferior re-issues of the Sacred Warrior catalog with very cheap packaging. Not until 2010 did the newly formed Intense Millenium Records put out a proper re-release of "Rebellion". Besides remastering the CD to give it a brighter, more dynamic sound, they also added two new bonus tracks. These two new demo tracks were recorded by the band in 2001 by the band and never officially released until this release. "Day by Day" is a mid-paced, slightly modern hard rock song, while "Prince of Peace" is a melodic praise ballad. Both songs should be familiar to Sacred Warrior fans as they were recorded on the band's 2001 "Live At Cornerstone" release. The 2010 reissue also features new cover art, as well as the original classic art so that either can be displayed in the jewel case.
There are actually two slightly different versions of the original cover for this disc. The first pressing of the CD is very similar to subsequent pressings except that it doesn't have the thin red line around the words Sacred Warrior on the front cover.
Sacred Warrior - Master's Command (Intense) 1989
1. "Intro" (:33)
2. "Master's Command" (4:57)
3. "Beyond the Mountain" (4:30)
4. "Evil Lurks" (4:27)
5. "Bound in Chains" (3:45)
6. "Unfailing Love" (5:37)
7. "Paradise" (5:23)
9. "Uncontrolled" (3:50)
9. "Many Will Come" (3:56)
10. "Onward Warriors" [instrumental] (3:16)
11. "The Flood" (4:18)
12. "Holy, Holy, Holy" (4:30)
is leaps and bounds better than "Rebellion" in every aspect. The style
has not changed much, they are still 100% heavy metal but the songwriting, musicianship
and production are excellent. Ray Perra's vocals are angelic and glass shattering
and Bruce Swift is a proficient guitar player. Keyboards are used, but not excessively.
Roger Martinez (Vengeance Rising)
makes a guest vocal appearance on "The Flood" a heavy speed metal
tune about Noah and the flood and parallels it to the wickedness in modern society.
His vocal growl mixed with Rey's smooth as silk voice give the song nice contrasts.
"The Flood" is one of my favorite Sacred Warrior tunes. "Holy"
is a Christian worship song that I sing in church but it never sounded this
good in the pews. Sacred Warrior are Christian metal at it's best. This disc,
along with "Rebellion" were reissued on a single disc by KMG. The
reissue has no bonus tracks and is missing all the liner notes and artwork.
The picture at the top
of the page is Roger Martinez (Vengeance
Rising) and Sacred Warrior's Rey Parra sharing lead vocal duties on "The
Masters Command promo photo
Sacred Warrior - Wicked Generation (Intense) 1990
1. "No Happy
2. "Little Secrets" (6:18)
3. "Standing Free" (5:00)
4. "Are You Ready" (3:05)
5. "Minister by Night" (3:35)
6. "Miss Linda" (4:51)
7. "In the Night" (5:58)
8. "Warriors" (3:13)
9. "Wicked Generation" (4:44)
10. "War Torn Hero" (4:57)
Sacred Warrior get a bit
more aggressive in their songwriting while at the same time sounding more progressive
and melodic. "Are You Ready" and "Minister by Night" both
push the boundaries of speed metal. The rest of the album is mid to slow paced
progressive metal with great vocals. This is somewhat of a concept album with
a story about a young person struggling through life and finally finding hope
in Christ. The liner notes state, "They're not children of Satan, they're
who we make them." If there is one thing you can't accuse Sacred Warrior
of it's writing wimpy lyrics. They are very upfront about their Christianity.
Sacred Warrior - Obsessions (Intense) 1991
1. "Wings of a Dream"
2. "Sweet Memories" (4:31)
3. "Turning Back" (4:11)
4. "Obsessions" (4:46)
5. "Kamikaze" (4:49)
6. "Remember Me" (4:40)
7. "Fire from Heaven" (4:16)
8. "Temples on Fire" (4:03)
9. "Mad Man" (6:13)
This is the best Sacred
Warrior disc and unfortunately the last. "Obsessions" is melodic,
heavy, and full of emotion. Longtime keyboardist Rick Macias left the band at
this point and was replaced by a second guitar player, John Johnson.
Intense released a best
of compilation after this CD but it contains no new material thus negating my
need to buy it. Sacred Warrior have also been on several compilations, but never
anything that hasn't already been released.
Sacred Warrior - Live at Cornerstone 2001 (M8) 2001
1. "Intro" (1:10)
2. "Children of the Light" (2:57)
3. "Remember Me" (4:37)
4. "Rebellion" (6:26)
5. "Holy Holy Holy" (4:18)
6. "Little Secrets" (2:34)
7. "Wicked Generation" (2:10)
8. "Heavens Are Calling" (3:26)
9. "Come On" (2:15)
10. "Day By Day" (5:19)
11. "Prince of Peace" (3:43)
12. "Temples of Fire" (4:32)
Man these guys have not
lost one ounce of their energy. The band is tight, their performance is excellent
and Rey Perra sounds as good as he did in the early 90's. Of all the simultaneously
released Cornerstone 2001 discs, this one impressed me the most. Considering
some of the others were by favorites of mine like Deliverance and Recon, that is saying a lot. Not
only does the band sound great, but they bring a real spirit of worship and
reverence to the Almighty. Of course this has always been a strong point of
Sacred Warrior. The new tracks "Day by Day" sounds good and gives hope for a
new release from these guys in the future. My only real complaint here is that
the packaging, like most M8 releases is very cheap and generic looking. Also,
the set is short. Would have loved to have heard more from this classic band.