Released: 2012, StormSpell Records
The debut album by Sacred Guardian was part of a big ‘blind buy’ I did from StormSpell earlier this year. One thing I like about the label is that they do OBI strips, those little paper sidestrips of advertising usually found on Japanese CD’s. Even though StormSpell is an American label I think it adds a little touch of class. The OBI for SACRED GUARDIAN says, ‘Classic Heavy Metal for fans of Omen, Dio, Helstar and Jag Panzer. With a recommendation like that, I knew it was an instant buy!
SACRED GUARDIAN came out in September 2012 and has a gorgeous, quintessential Metal cover of a warrior with a sword fighting a flying dragon, bring a steel tear to my evil eye and fond memories of Dungeons & Dragons module covers. Simply awesome! The art was done by Dimitar Nikolov who has done work for Ross The Boss, Ilium, Katana, Steelwing, and a few more cool, underground bands. The 11-track album also lives up to the promise of the packaging, which is a superb, full-colour, 12-page booklet with photos and lyrics.
The album starts with a nice simple acoustic guitar, instrumental before diving into ‘The Last Writes. You can instantly hear the vocal similarities of singer Gustavo Rodriquez with J.D. Kimball of early Omen fame and for this kind of classic US Power Metal that is a major asset. The opener was a strong atmospheric opening cut. The next song really grabbed my attention. The bands namesake cut ‘Sacred Guardian’ opens with a mighty scream and a much faster pace. I would have sequenced this song as the opening track (right after the intro) as it is one of the strongest on the album. The album power through the songs delivering cut after cut of classic Heavy Metal. I do prefer the faster songs on the album such as ’Alma Immortal’. The riffs are solid and the songs are standard arrangements, nothing to fancy, just good solid Metal cuts. There is an acoustic intro on the song ‘Majesty’ with a strong clean vocal line, and you think might be a ballad but at the 1:15 mark it takes off into a raging track. It is a well written cut and a stand out track.
The lyrics could use a little work but the band is from Puerto Rico and therefore English is probably not their first language. In fact a couple of the songs are sung in Spanish. Puerto Rico, of course, an island nation of about 3.5 million inhabitants and is not necessarily known for it’s Metal bands. Although I don’t know too many bands from that nation, maybe a dozen at most, Sacred Guardian is by far my favourite and could be the first band to put Puerto Rico on the metal map.