Sardonyx

A virtually unknown power metal band, yet one of the band's that inspired me the most both personally and in my own music. The band broke up in 1994, although the ministry of the band continued through Lightshine, which is the minstry that the band is accountable to. Tom Denlinger has also released a project under the title Scream of the Guillotine. As of January 2002 the original members of Sardonyx have decided to get back together and begin work on a new disc. Their web site also promises the release of the band's first EP 'Rebel of Reason' on cd along with 'Majestic Serenity.'

Sardonyx - Rebel of Reason (Lightshine) 1990

1. "Scandal"
2. "Don't Chase the Rainbow"
3. "Bloodshed"
4. "Rebel of Reason"

When this tape came out I was on a personal quest to find any and every Christian metal band I could. I stumbled upon this demo tape and discovered a band that would affect me in ways I cannot describe. I can say that Sardonyx helped shape the way I see Christian metal and Christian ministry. Anyhow, I played this four song tape over and over again. This is simply great heavy metal. I remember thinking they reminded me of Metal Church back when I first got it. Tom Denlinger has said that this tape may be put onto CD in the form of bonus tracks on a re-issued "Majestic Serenity".

Majestic Serenity Sardonyx - Majestic Serenity (Lightshine) 1994

1. "Puppet of Beauty" (7:42)
2. "Paracletos" (3:59)
3. "Corridor to Light" (8:15)
4. "Short But Suite: Opus in D Flat" [instrumental] (1:12)
5. "Royal Honor" (5:42)
6. "Heavenly Throne" (4:50)
7. "Ft. Drum" [instrumental] (2:34)
8. "Holy Avenger" (7:11)
9. "Call Upon the Master" (3:47)
10. "Voice of the Prodigal" (7:07)
11. "Liar" (5:16)

I love this album! It had a huge impact on my life, both as a musician myself and as a Christian. I saw this band play in Maine in 1993 and was blown away by their incredible stage presence and tight musicianship. I was also impressed with the sincerity of what they believed as well as their cool attitudes. I was honored to spend the entire day traveling to the show from Pennsylvania with them, then hanging out backstage before and after the show. I even got to go up on the stage to hold the banner during "Royal Honor." It was a very memorable experience for me. (see the photo to the right.)

But about the CD, this is the was the first and only full length album that they would release before their demise a couple years later. "Majestic Serenity" is pure, American power metal! For some this might conjure up images of keyboard laced, dungeons and dragons, heavy metal. However, Sardonyx have more in common with bands like Meliah Rage, Sacred Warrior and Metal Church than the modern purveyors of power metal. The music is tight, technical, and incorporates some progressive and thrash metal elements as well. The vocals of Tom Denlinger are outstanding! Tom has a clean, mid-range voice that works well for this style. I have read some negative reviews over the years about the recording quality. I am sure had Sardonyx had a budget and a producer at the time that the overall production could have been better, but as it stands it really isn't that bad. The raw guitar crunch, the thundering bass, pounding drums, and the screaming vocals all come through fine. Frankly, this disc owned my CD player for quite some time after it's release and has been a disc I still play regularly over the years.

Tom Denlinger
Tom Denlinger

Sardonyx
A photo of me (in the white shirt) on stage with Sardonyx, 1994.

Sardonyx
Sardonyx promo photo

Linear Progression Sardonyx - Linear Progression (independent) 2005

1. "Sing to the Lord" (3:52)
2. "Master and My King" (3:34)
3. "I'm Free" (6:45)
4. "Power Unto You" (5:48)

After nearly a decade away, Sardonyx return with this powerful metal EP. The band describes their music as worship metal, and certainly that is what this is. Three of the four songs included here have lyrics that I would most certainly call "worship". I would even imagine that "Master and My King" would work great in a more acoustic setting during a worship service. "Linear Progression" is Christian metal in the truest sense, right down to a bit of preaching at the end "I'm Free" about the nature of Jesus. This may turn some potential listeners away, but I would be willing to bet that Sardonyx are more concerned with the smaller flock that will give a listen than those who will turn away. Sardonyx have never been concerned as much with mainstream success as they have with populating the Kingdom of Heaven. The band hasn't ignored their roots and have remained true to their power metal roots, adding on a bit of more modern influences. This is most apparent on the opening track, "Sing to the Lord", which also happens to be the heaviest song. "Master and My King" and "I'm Free" are more mid-paced, melodic, traditional sounding rockers, while the final track "Power Unto You" returns to the power metal sound that the band is known for. Here's to the return of one of Christian metal's underground champs. Here's hoping it won't take another decade before we get a full length CD.

Majestic Serenity Sardonyx - Majestic Serenity/Rebel of Reason (Retroactive) 2007

Majestic Serenity (1994)
1. "Puppet of Beauty" (7:32)
2. "Paracletos" (3:59)
3. "Corridor to Light" (8:23)
4. "Short But Suite: Opus in D Flat" [instrumental] (1:13)
5. "Royal Honor" (5:30)
6. "Heavenly Throne" (4:56)
7. "Ft. Drum" [instrumental] (2:35)
8. "Holy Avenger" (7:16)
9. "Call Upon the Master" (3:47)
10. "Voice of the Prodigal" (7:05)
11. "Liar" (5:10)
Rebel of Reason demo (1990)
12. "Scandal" (4:00)
13. "Don't Chase the Rainbow" (4:38)
14. "Bloodshed" (5:21)
15. "Rebel of Reason" (5:44)

The original "Majestic Serenity" was released in 1994 independently by Sardonyx. Over a decade later and this fantastic metal album is finally being released on a proper label with much improved artwork and far superior mastering. Starting around 2002 on the band's website they had been promising for years that they were going to re-release "Majestic Serenity" with the "Rebel of Reason" demo as bonus tracks and that is exactly what we finally have here. The album cover art is much improved with a completely new cover, although the inside cover features the original cover art, although severely altered from the original. The new insert is a 10-page full color booklet and includes all the original liner notes, including all the lyrics and song explanations. Despite this album having such a big impact on me in the early-to-mid 1990's I honestly hadn't pulled it out and given it a spin in quite some time. Hearing all these songs again fresh after all these years, I was in metal heaven singing along to each and every song. Musically, Sardonyx ride a fine line between early American power metal and speed metal like Metal Church, Meliah Rage and Vicious Rumors.

The bonus tracks from the Rebel of Reason are a nice addition. I'm not so sure the mastering improved these tracks though. I have the original tape demo. I don't remember it sounding so tinny and wishy. I think the mastering only serves to bring out the flaws in the original recording rather than enhancing the recording. Also, there is a noticeable drop out in the song "Scandal" that I don't recall being on the original tape. I'll have to dig that demo out and play it to see if it was there and I had just forgotten. Still nice to finally have these songs on CD.

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