Review Summary: A different approach of Christian Heavy Metal.
Sacred Warrior is a Christian heavy metal band formed in 1988 and based in Chicago, Illinois. They are considered the best representatives of the Christian Heavy Metal genre along, with Stryper and Whitecross, but Sacred Warrior never got worldwide recognition even in Christian circles, for various reasons.
The sound of the band is somewhat reminiscent of Queensryche circa “The Warning” era in regards of speed and heaviness and even glimpses of Fates Warning circa “Awakening The Guardian” and “The Spectre Within”. To be honest I couldn’t believe how a band like Sacred Warrior could be a musical complex of the aforementioned bands, until I heard “Master’s Command”.
The vocals of Rey Parra are very much alike those of Geoff Tate and Michael Kiske, but not that high pitched as Kiske yet very melodic.
Being that said let’s move on the album itself. What struck me initially are the diffuse progressive elements, but we certainly can not categorize this music to progressive.
The first track, which is “Master’s Command” is the ideal opener for every metal record and the listener will soon realize that the music is driven by the vocals of Rey Parrah and the lyrical content, which due to the Christian beliefs of the band might annoy the listener. Although, Master’s Command is not a catchy song and does not stick to your mind from the first listen, because of the complex and long chorus’ lyrics. Next song is “Beyond The Mountains” and it is probably the catchiest song of the album due to the vocal melodies and simpler structure, elements that assist in the flow of the music featured in “Master’s Command”.
The music itself though, tends to be a bit cheesy at times, which is very evident in “Unfailing Love” the only ballad of the album. This one is not that sappy as those from Stryper but still suffers from the same disease. The lyrics are corny and the vocal lines are over coated with sugar, which might force the listener to skip this song. But please, consider that most of the ballads coming from the white or power metal genre suffer from the same disease. And believe me, it’s very difficult to make a good ballad without sounding cheesy or cliché and it is something that a few bands achieve such as Iron Maiden, Queensryche or Fates Warning for example. But surely “Unfailing Love” is not a bad ballad.
But… there is one song in “Master’s Command” that sets this album apart from its competitors. Believe it or not “The Flood” is a song that proves how creepy and evil can a Christian metal band sound! Ironic isn’t it?
“The Flood” with Roger Martinez from “Vengeance Rising” performing the vocals adds extra dimension to this song. Certainly, there is melody in the riffs and yet with his raspy, screechy and tormented vocals he manages to take the song to a new level. Personally, I consider “The Flood” to be the album’s finest moment.
Another great thing about this album is the unique drumming and the great lead guitar tone and style. The instrumental “Onward Warriors” is really nice and proves my aforementioned claim about the lead guitar tone and the drumming.
The album closes with “Holy, Holy, Holy” and believe me this is not the best way to close an album. The strangest thing I noticed after listening to the whole record, is that the band manages somehow to combine cheesiness with a darker approach of Christian Metal.
In conclusion, “Master’s Command” is one of the most representative albums of the genre and the most popular album from Sacred Warrior. It is not a perfect album, as it has its flows, but listening to “Master’s Command” with an open mind, you will realize how unique and solid this album truly is. “Master’s Command” is not Sacred Warrior’s finest moment, but if you want to listen to Sacred Warrior at their creative peak, you have to listen to “Wicked Generation” or their debut album “Rebellion”, which is considered to be their best.
[+]Unique and original sound
[+]The darker approach of the genre
[-]The album needs a lot of listens in order to get used to the music of the band
[-]Sometimes the album tends to be a bit cheesy
[-]The lyrical approach may annoy some of the listeners
[-]Some songs sound similar
-Beyond The Mountain