Under The Radar — Sacred Oath and Warlord

The Holy Empire

This week we’re going to explore new albums by two cult US traditional metal acts: Sacred Oath and Warlord. Sacred Oath have released Fallen, which features the original lineup that recorded the stellar debut A Crystal Vision. Warlord are back with a stylistic change on The Holy Empire, but with just as much flare.

Sacred Oath, Fallen
“King of Your World” opens in a similar manner to the way “Words Upon The Stone” kicked off Darkness Visible. The familiar melodic leads coupled with Kenny Evans’s furious double bass kicks warm up the listener for two minutes before we hear Rob Thorne’s voice.

Much like A Crystal Vision, this album battles between galloping midtempo traditional metal with flashy leads and solos and thrash. Another old vibe that is present is the band’s borderline Mercyful Fate obsession, which can be heard on “Lurking Fear” again with that thrash vibe present and some harsh barking vocals thrown in for good measure.

Despite some songs here being reminiscent of the original lineup vibe, uptempo songs like “Misery Loves Company” and “Get Your Wings” are a take on the band’s more recent output, highlighting the ferocious drumming and fast feet of Evans.

Fallen

If you’re a fan of traditional metal or power metal and are keeping an eye on the US scene, look no further than Sacred Oath’s Fallen. If you want to go a bit further, check out their 2009 album World On Fire, which is an overlooked gem in the modern traditional metal realm.

Warlord, The Holy Empire
Warlord are another band to add to the ever-growing list of traditional metal acts that have reformed in the last two years. Now, this is in no way a complaint. Warlord are known for having delivered some fine heavy metal in the 80’s, especially with the Deliver Us EP.

The 100mph days of this band are in the past, at least in the studio. The Holy Empire is a pure epic metal album (epic being a word I use sparingly).

The Holy Empire focuses on triumphant chord progressions and the morose, emotional vocals of Richard M. Anderson. Midtempo dominates the album as Anderson paints a vivid picture of war, destruction, and loss. His vocal phrasing here is phenomenal, making this album memorable from the first listen.

The production on this album holds back some of the power this could potentially have. While not terrible, it just lacks the punch in my speakers. Every instrument can clearly be heard, which is definitely a treat as the bass is often lost in an album’s mix. Mark Zonder’s drum kit could use some beefing up, but his playing is great regardless.

I’d like to talk about some select songs, but this album is really meant to be listened to in full, rather than just a song here and there. I will mention though, that “70,000 Sorrows” “Kill Zone” and “The Holy Empire” are among my favorites.

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