Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Saint - Warriors Of The Son
   
Musical Style: Classic Metal Produced By: Richad Lynch & John Mahan
Record Label: Retroactive Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 1984/2011 Artist Website: Saint
Tracks: 6 Rating: 70%
Running Time: 27:20

Saint - Warriors Of The Son

Saint can trace its history to a late seventies Salem, Oregon based band named Power Faith that featured guitarist John Mahan.  Power Faith broke up after a few short months only to reform under the name The Gentiles, with Mahan joining forces with bassist Richard Lynch and vocalist Max Clark and recording a four song demo in 1981.  After The Gentile disbanded a year later, Lynch started work on new material prior to rounding out the first Saint line up with Mahan, vocalist Josh Kramer and drummer Gene McClendon.  Saint proceeded to send the better part of 1983 rehearsing the songs that would make up its debut EP Warriors Of The Son, which it released on Rotton Records in 1984.

Warriors Of The Son has quite the storied history, re-issued the first time in 1984 with new album artwork on Morada Records and again in 2001 on M8 Records but with the 4 songs from The Gentiles demo as bonus tracks.  A third re-issue took place in 2003 as part of the two CD set released by Saint entitled Saint Collection: 1984-1999 while a fourth - re-mastered and packaged in a 6 panel digipak with liner notes from Richard Lynch - occurred in the summer of 2011 on Retroactive Records.

What we have in Saint is a joining of traditional and classic heavy metal.  With its no-nonsense and in your face approach, the group amalgamates sledgehammer heavy guitars, thumping bass lines and driving vocals with lyrics on the apocalyptic side of things.  The end result is six songs of pure and unadulterated aggression, rawness and youthful energy.  Opening tracks “Plan II” and “Legions Of The Dead”, for instance, are non-stop slugfests, with the former angst laden and unremitting and latter featuring a plodding refrain that gives rise to a doom-ish Sabbathian feel.  The snarling “Abyss” represents the lone piece here to traverses up-tempo territory while the albums militant title track and “Time’s Wasting” hit as hard as it gets.  “Vicars Of Fate” even highlights some heavy touches of low end groove.

My introduction to Saint took place in April of 1985 when I saw the group open for Stryper at a Portland, Oregon area high school auditorium.  Purchased a vinyl copy of Warriors Of The Son (Rotton version) at the show, which I still own to this day.  It has always been my opinion that Warriors Of The Son is solid albeit unremarkable musically.  Yes, the songs are good and nothing to skip over, but I always have felt that Saint did not hit its musical stride until the Pure Metal follow up releases Time’s End (1986) and Too Late For Living (1988).

The main problem with the original version of Warriors Of The Son is the production and mastering, which I found to be too harsh and abrasive- almost to the point of overbearing.  So while I liked the songs I found myself rarely if every listening to the album.  I skipped the 2001 M8 re-issue (it is my understanding the re-mastering left much to be desired) while the Saint Collection version proved an upgrade, somewhat.  The re-mastered Retroactive version, on the other hand, is the most listenable I have heard.  All in all, it presents with a more even balance of crisp guitars and heavy set low end, with the aftermath some of those previously referenced harsher elements being eliminated in the process.

One of the signature stand out qualities to Saint is vocalist Josh Kramer, who helps invite the bands comparison to Judas Priest due to his powerful Halford-like vocal abilities.  Richard Lynch delivers the goods as well with his precise bass lines while John Mahan proves a monster presence on guitar.  Angry, aggressive and just plain nasty would be the best way to describe his playing, whether it is his “on edge” rhythm guitar sound or soloing that runs the gamut from driven to surely.

Now, any Warriors Of The Son review would not be complete without mention of the version re-recorded by Saint in 2004, with Lynch and Kramer joined by guitarists Dee Harrington and Jerry Johnson.  Yes, production improves as a result of the re-recording, but the outcome is one very important element that ends up missing- and that is the bands angst-laden and all out raw energy.  What might be the problem?  My theory is the lack of contribution from Mahan.  Without a doubt Harrington and Johnson are more than capable, but the Warriors Of The Son material was written with Mahan in mind so any lack of punch - at least in my opinion - can be directly attributed to his absence.

Saint - Warriors Of The Son collage

Track By Track

“Plan II” delivers six and a half minutes of brute force.  With bludgeoning guitars and assertive mentality leading the way, the song smashes through its verses on the way to a heavy hitting chorus laced with a touch of the worshipful:

Let’s give glory to the King
He conquered death and hell
To set His children free
Let’s give glory to the King
He cleansed us from our sins
He tasted death for all to see

Mahan imbues a lengthy instrumental stretch with his mean sounding lead work.  Lyrics are otherwise apocalyptic in nature:

On that final day
He’ll rise above the clouds
All will see His wounds and sigh
It’s plain for all to see
He is the risen King
He has the keys to death and hell
Attached onto His side

“Legions Of The Dead” proves every bit as fervid.  The song relentlessy storms out of the gate, staunch and unremitting during its verses but slowing to a near standstill for a chorus that borders on the doom-ish in capacity.  More of Mahan’s brazen leads imbue a number giving rise to more end time themes:

War and famine
Is all part of this wicked game
Disease and hunger
Is jotting down your name
Death defiers
Screaming God to blame
Stones and fire
Will burn them up in flame

But it all soon will end
The war’s already won
And the legions of the dead
Their time has come

The faster and more forthright direction is taken on “Abyss”.  With its dogged capacity, the song intertwines steadfast riff action and pulsating bass lines with Kramer’s rumbling vocal presence.  Lyrically, some classic lines are delivered:

Look for the masquerader
Look for the one who lies
He’s dressed like Dr. Jeckyll
But he’s really Mr. Hyde
He wants to deceive you
He wants to drag you down to size
But there’s another choice
And by His strength the dragon dies

Welcome to abyss
I hope you have fun

The albums anthem-like title track brings four minutes of hulking mid-paced metal.  The song powers its distance to a clamoring low end and militant riffs in abundance, punctuating an authoritative chorus and spiritual warfare themed lyrical direction:

They are the warriors of the Son
Of the King of the Light
Arise from thee unto thy might
Warriors of the Son
Of the King of the Light
They died with thee they live to fight

Come wind, come storm
Cold and freeze
The songs of light
Shall not retreat
Come fireballs and desert sands
Come warriors with battle plans

“Vicars Of Fate” is my favorite of the Warriors Of The Son tracks.  Perhaps it is the standout bass line or distorted rhythm guitar sound, but I have always found myself drawn to the piece.  The notable melody and impassioned vocals prove equally laudable.  “Vicars Of Fate” addresses the issue of false prophets:

Can’t you see
That their road is a dead end
They’ll grab your soul
Then try to pull you in
They’ll set the snare
Then pull your hair
They’re rotten to the core
Just one escape
From hell’s own fate
You know which way you’ve got to go

All the killing
All the pain
Dark age prophets
They still remain

The straightforward and no frills metal of “Time’s Wasting” closes things out.  As severe a piece as you will find, the song gives prominence to a sledgehammer rhythm guitar sound and a driving propensity that has unyielding written all over it.  Lyrics (another one of the songs strengths) come across victorious in nature:

Christ remains in waiting
Christ has paid the toll
He died for you
He broke the chains
Unlocked the prison doors
Why do you choose to run from Him?
There’s nowhere else to go
A sinless Priest
The awesome King
I think you probably know

Warriors Of The Son adds up to a very good but not quite great album- at least in comparison to Saint releases that would follow such as Time’s End and Too Late For Living (not to mention the groups turn of the century comeback material).  Still, the Retroactive re-issue will make a worthwhile addition to your collection due to not only the improved re-mastering but also the opportunity to hear one of Christian metals foundational groups in its informative years.

Review by Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “Plan II” (6:22), “Legions Of The Dead” (4:21), “Abyss” (4:11), “Warriors Of The Son” (3:55), “Vicars Of Fate” (3:53), “Time’s Wasting” (4:35)

Musicians
Josh Kramer - Lead Vocals
John Mahan - Guitars
Richard Lynch - Bass
Gene McClendon - Drums

 

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