"Sacred Guardian"

By Dr. Abner Mality

If you've got a picture of a knight in armor fighting a fire breathing dragon on your album cover, you better be pretty damn good to avoid snickers and assinine comments. Sacred Guardian is pretty damn good. Corny they are, but in a completely enjoyable way. The press release for this album hits it right on the head when they compare the band to Omen, Helstar and Jag Panzer...I can hear all three of those bands here, along with some Vicious Rumors and Seven Witches.

This is true gritty medieval metal in the vein of the first Omen album. The vocalist even has traces of the great J.D. Kimball in his approach at times and resembling James Rivera at others. Those are a couple of heavy duty names to invoke in power metal circles, believe you me. Yeah, cliches abound here, but fuckin' hell, listen to the "name" track "Sacred Guardian" with its semi-thrash goodness, the impressive Dio-style rifferama of "Dark Ages" and the power-packed axe attack of "Norseman" and dare to tell me these guys don't know what they're doing. This record could have been vacuum-packed and put in a time capsule dated 1985 and I would have no trouble believing it. The only thing that gives them away is the smooth production, which would have been tough to pull off in the 80's.

I don't know where Sacred Guardian hails from, but they throw in a couple of songs with Spanish lyrics ("Alma Immortal" and the Symphony X-like epic "Ulises"). I know respect for the classic ways of metal prevails in the Latino world, so I wonder if that's the point of origin.  It doesn't matter in the end, because you'll be ready to strap on the armor and kick that dragon's ass after you hear "Sacred Guardian".