Review Summary: Patience is a virtue.
Good things come to those who wait, and Sacred Outcry look like firm believers of this old English proverb, as it took them nearly 20 years to release their debut. Fortunately for heavy/power metal fans, they finally managed to create what seems to be one of the best epic metal LPs of the last few years.
But first things first; one of my, many seriously flawed, theories in music has to do with artwork, and how an album with a dragon on its cover cannot disappoint. The same applies to LPs that start with the sound of horse hooves or waves, but this is another story for now. Therefore, my expectations from Sacred Outcry’s debut were already high when I saw on its cover not only two dragons, but also Elric of Melniboné carrying the Stormbringer, and a castle. If you’re not an epic metal freak, this probably means nothing to you, but for people who love this genre, this is a wet dream that often leads to disappointment, with the cover art ending up being far more impressive than the actual music.
Fortunately, this is not the case here, as Damned For All Time
is as impressive as its cover art.
To begin with, the execution is impeccable, with a great sense of melody, clever use of keyboards, memorable riffs, and catchy vocal lines. Actually, it’s because it took these guys 20 years to release music, they had the chance to work with one of the best modern heavy metal vocalists, Yannis Papadopoulos (Battle Beast). In his best performance yet, he adjusts to each song’s needs by making full use of his range and style. Also, no song sounds exactly like another on here, as the band puts forth an array of different influences and structures. For example, “Sacred Outcry” is the most energetic track of the album and brings to mind Painkiller
-era Judas Priest and Iced Earth. On the other hand, Farewell” wouldn’t be out of place in one of Manowar’s ‘80s efforts as the power ballad, and “Scared to Cry” is an emotional folk ballad a la “The Bard’s Song” with a gentle melody and vocal lines that you imagine that are being sung by 20,000 fans in Wacken Open Air festival.
In fact, the acoustic interludes play an important role in conveying a medieval vibe similar to Blind Guardian and also work as a recurring theme. In that vein, “Where Ancient Gods are Still Hailed”, “Lonely Man”, and “Crystal Tears” all feature acoustic intros. The first of the bunch would make Warlord’s Bill Tsamis proud, whereas “Lonely Man” evolves into a euro-power metal frenzy that brings to mind Helloween. Unfortunately, “Crystal Tears” is the only song on here that I have trouble remembering, even though its intro brings to mind Ritchie Blackmore’s acoustic playing. Of course, like any good epic metal album that respects itself, it has to include a +7-minute song. Damned For All Time’s
self-titled track is an almost 15-minute behemoth that features several changes in mood and pace, and revolves around Michael Moorcock’s cursed anti-hero, Elric of Melnibone.
Overall, if you’re in for some power metal with a strong epic flavor, this is going to be one of your favorite releases of the year. The fact that it took this LP 20 years to see the light of the day, is a blessing in disguise, as its Yannis Papadopoulos’ voice that lifts what was already an extremely solid effort. Hopefully, it doesn’t take these guys 20 more years to release Damned For All Time’s