Tuesday, November 8, 2011

REVIEWS: Classic album review: REBELLION by SACRED WARRIOR (1988, reissued with bonus tracks 2010)

SACRED WARRIOR (USA), around 1989-91
Rating: 86%.
Genre: Progressive melodic power-metal (Christian metal)

Original album (1988)
This is one of the best metal bands that very few people have ever heard of. It was part of the white-metal or Christian metal scene of the late-1980s associated with Pastor Bob Beeman of The Sanctuary in Hollywood, CA.

Reissued album, Intense Millennium Records (2010)
I've heard three of its four albums (not Wicked Generation, but I heard the songs that made it on to Classics). Unlike most people, Rebellion is my favorite album, due to its sheer raw energy, freshness, spontaneity and passion.

The band that I thought of when I first heard this CD in 1998 was Iron Maiden, as they both play progressive technical power metal. Both have shocking intensity, great musicianship, and fine melodies especially in the choruses. There is a huge variation on this disc, ranging from mid-paced power anthems such as "Mad Mad World" (my favorite song on the album) to a power-ballad about the sacrificial death of Jesus ("He Died") to well-executed speed-metal ("Children of the Light").

The vocalist Rey Parra has a strong voice with a great range. He reminds me of Bruce Dickinson of Maiden. His voice perfectly compliments the music. The guitar solos here, especially on the first two songs, "Black Metal" and "Mad Mad World", are full of passion and they are really great.

The guitar solos bring back memories of Dave Murray/ Adrian Smith's solos on those classic Maiden albums of the early 1980s. Absolutely beyond comparison. Until I heard this album, I thought I would never hear guitar solos like that again. The solos fit in perfectly with the mood of the songs here, and are not just a show-off exercise. They are about the best guitar solos I've heard in metal.

All in all, a brilliant album. The lyrics are boldly and openly Christian, but they are not condescending or irritating, just heartfelt. This album is recommended for fans of melodic power-metal, such as Iron Maiden, early Rainbow, HammerFall, and Dio. The follow-up album Masters Command is also great, so it's worth getting the 2-in-1 CD of Rebellion/ Masters Command re-released by KMG Records in 1998 (although the packaging was very poor).

This album was reissued by Intense Millennium Records with bonus tracks in 2010 (two demo tracks from 2001 and 2006, "Day of the Lord" and "Prince of Peace"). The new album cover appears above and a review from another website appears below.

For more information on Bob Beeman, The Sanctuary and the original white-metal scene supported by Pastor Bob see:  
Other recommended white-metal albums:
Master's Command, Wicked Generation and Obsessions by Sacred Warrior [USA] [melodic prpogressive power-metal].
Human Sacrifice and Once Dead by Vengeance Rising [USA] [melodic thrash with death vocals].
Deliverance and Weapons of our Warfare by Deliverance [USA] [thrash-metal].
Die Happy by Die Happy [USA] (the former members of Vengeance Rising excluding Roger Martinez) [hard rock/ groove metal with thrash influences].

Recommended white death-metal albums:
Scrolls of the Megilloth by Mortification [Australia].
Living Sacrifice, Nonexistent and Inhabit by Living Sacrifice [USA].
Burial by Extol [Sweden].
Cold Black Piece of Flesh and Escaping the Stupor by Sacrificium [Germany].

By Jack Frost, first posted on Amazon.com 30 October 2004.

Another review:
Reviewed by  on November 14, 2010

"Sacred Warrior's 'Rebellion' is an almighty rocker that will please prog-metal fans of all faiths."
Starting in 1988, Chicago-based Sacred Warrior decided to use their God-given talents to create a sound that was essentially a Christian take on Iron Maiden and Queensryche. Their well-regarded 1989 debut album, "Rebellion" has been re-released this month, and it definitely stands up well, though the joyful noise is tempered a bit with some overly preachy lyrics and vocals that go a bit over the top.
Guitarist Bruce Swift is definitely the star of this show, with fleet-fingered solos reminiscent of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, and heavy riffs that make songs like "Master Of Lies" come to splendid life. The superb rhythm section of Steve Watkins on bass and Tony Velasquez on drums keeps things moving well.
Rey Parra's vocals are suitably Dickenson-ian on tracks like the galloping "Day Of The Lord" and especially the album's best track, "Children Of The Light." On the other hand, there are tracks like "Black Metal," when Parra seems to lean a little to heavily on the operatic falsetto.
Unlike Jars Of Clay, or recent albums from Blissed or Place Of Skulls, the lyrics are unmistakably religious in nature, with tracks like largely acoustic "He Died" and the pretty extraneous bonus track "Prince Of Peace" feeling more like out-and-out prayers than songs, which adds a bit of weight.
Where things to south is on tracks like "Mad World," in which Parra mourns the loss of morality and righteousness in the world and things feel pretty Sunday School-ish, if not outright condescending. Even worse is the bonus track "Day By Day," which also isn't particularly melodic.
Sacred Warrior's "Rebellion" is an almighty rocker that will please prog-metal fans of all faiths. It's an excellent showcase for the band's chops and beliefs.
Highs: "Children Of The Light," "Master Of Lies" and "Day Of The Lord."
Lows: The by-the-numbers ballad "Day By Day," which also features some overly preachy lyrics.
Bottom line: A mostly great prog-metal album which blends Iron Maiden sounds with a Christian message.

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