|Musical Style: Power Metal||Produced By: The Sacrificed|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2007||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 11||Rating: 75%|
|Running Time: 38:03|
The Sacrificed represents the Lakeland, Florida based duo of vocalist and drummer Eli Prinson and guitarist, bassist and keyboardist Johnny Bowden. Forming in 2005 but not releasing its full length debut, The DaVinci Hoax, until early 2007, The Sacrificed can best be described as classical and operatic power metal bringing to mind Fates Warning, Sacred Warrior, Recon, Jacobs Dream and Queensryche. Yes, very good company indeed, but in order to first invite a comparison to the previously mentioned bands in question, a vocalist with the abundant range of Geoff Tate, Ray Para and David Taylor is of utmost necessity. And that is exactly what The Sacrificed posses in Eli Prinson. A classically trained vocalist blessed with talent of a near world class level, Prinson joins his silky smooth and high pitched vocal delivery with the metal edged guitar riffs of Johnny Bowden. The union works in that the two combine to create an offering in The DaVinci Hoax that stands out as a result of its musical excellence. Notable melodies abound, reflected in the catchy hooks characteristic to hard rockers “The Fight”, “Altar Call” and “In Your Time We Pray”. The more laid back sounds of the stylish “Ghost Of Iniquity” and the ballads “In Vain” and “Forgiven”, on the other hand, prove equally notable, while the albums title track even introduces some modern flavorings.
Irregardless of the fact The Sacrificed have achieved a high level of musical aptitude here, in no way does that imply there are not significant areas of improvement worth noting.
The albums production values are the first to deserve mention. While not as bad as the samples at the bands MySpace page would indicate, the production here permeates an all around thinness and muddiness. The rhythm guitar, for example, could be beefed up and the drums - coming across on the hallow side of things – warrant upgrading as well (they sound programmed).
Another point of contention is the failure of The Sacrificed to place proper emphasis on its instrumental sound. Bowden, for instance, contributes little in the way of any type of quality lead guitar work. Many of the albums tracks either lack guitar solos or come without instrumental sections altogether. Now, perhaps Bowden is not a naturally gifted soloist – and there is nothing wrong with that in that the metal world is full of great rhythm guitarist/songwriters whose expertise is not lead guitar – or overextended himself in the studio (in addition to guitar he also handles all bass and keyboard duties). That being said, when playing music of such a powerful capacity, a killer lead player is essential; it is not an option. To understand my point, when mentioning the likes of Sacred Warrior, Jacobs Dream and Barren Cross, one of the first things to come to mind is the stellar lead work of Bruce Swift, John Berry and Ray Parris respectively.
From a lyrical standpoint, The Sacrificed shines. While I would hesitate to label The DaVinci Hoax a concept album, its title track focuses on exposing the fraud of the book The DaVinci Code. Several other tracks refute The DaVinci Code by emphasizing Christ’s sacrifice and His ultimate Resurrection. Forgiveness is another lyrical theme as well.
“Footsteps (Intro)” opens the album to the sound of footsteps followed by a door being closed.
“The Fight” jumps out of the gate to a plethora of up-tempo energy, the vibrant momentum pushing the song ahead until it peaks for a catchy chorus reinforced by heavy duty vocal harmonies. While a very fine composition that ranks with the albums best (think Theater Of War era Jacobs Dream), this is one of several tracks that would have stood out even better if the band had put forth a better display of its instrumental sound. “The Fight” delivers a Christ centered lyrical focus:
We’ll fight – on and on – the good fight
For the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s ultimate sacrifice for the world
He rose from the grave – after three days – with the keys – of hell
And of death – in His nail scared hands
“Newsflash” is a spoken word piece in which the voice of a DJ presents the theme behind the albums title track. The point is certainly well made (and the issue is one that needs to be addressed), but am I out of line to suggest it is brought up in a manner that borders on the apologetic? I mean, do we really have to put up with the joke “probably a good book but definitely not the Good Book”? Next.
“The DaVinci Hoax” gets underway to some guitar riffs that almost come across modern in feel. As initiative builds, however, a metal laced rhythm guitar storms into the mix and vigorously pushes the song to a sweeping chorus delivered in impeccable melodic flavored fashion. The “scholarly voices” found throughout the albums title track refute The DaVinci Code by reinforcing Christ’s Resurrection:
It is possible that His Resurrection was a hoax
In the same way that it’s possible that we were all
Born five minutes ago with memories and the earth
In only five minutes old… it’s “possible”
It is absolutely impossible that He did not die
He did die- there is no question about it
The evidence of the Resurrection is strong enough
That the most reasonable thing to believe
Is that He rose from the dead.
“The Beginning” is a short (:33) instrumental carried its distance by a quietly played guitar.
The tranquil setting is sustained throughout the introduction to “Altar Call”. After a robust rhythm guitar steps forward, the song energetically rushes ahead until gaining a hold of a chorus in which a determined but hook driven setting is put into place. The only complaint is that I wish Bowden had expanded upon the few brief seconds of lead guitar he contributes at the songs end. Still, this is a great number with an equally notable message of God’s healing and forgiveness:
Can You reach this far my Lord and rescue me
From this sin so enslaving
My life’s a train wreck without You I have no control
Never a moments rest surrounded by this turmoil
You know my will is strong but my flesh is weak
And if I’d forgive myself I know that You would
“Ghost Of Iniquity” is an ethereal metal piece that brings to mind some of the more “finesse filled” material from Jacobs Dream (such as “Tale Of Fears” and “Traces Of Grace”). The song begins slowly to a laid back rhythm guitar sound, tapering off even further for its first verse prior to making an even transition to a gripping chorus detailing an individual who in the end finds salvation:
In the Book of Life –
His name written down by the Lord Jesus Christ
And on judgment day he’ll be washed and cleaned
Standing amongst the redeemed
Far from the ghosts of iniquity
This one showcases the albums finest stretch of lead work (very emotionally played).
Beautiful but haunting, the atmospheric “In Vain” is fortified its distance by a lush sounding acoustic guitar. About halfway through a highlighting trace of keyboards decorates the ambient scene. Very well done. God’s faithfulness is the subject matter here:
God will cleanse and save your soul no matter where you’ve been
Heal the wounds you’ve carried from a life so failed by men
With arms wide open waiting for you
He’ll never leave you or forsake you
He’s knocking at your door and all you’ve gotta do is just let Him in…
Stop struggling in vain… God will show you the way
Don’t’ be afraid
The semi-ballad “Forgiven” calmly flows through its first verse to a gently played guitar line, not picking up the pace until the rhythm guitar abruptly kicks in to drive a chorus standing out as a result of its poignant appeal. Again, what we have is another quality number that would have been improved upon if the band had taken the opportunity to emphasize its instrumental sound. “Forgiven” talks about dealing with the past:
Life has no rewind erase
Although we learned from our mistakes
We second guess where we went wrong
And fantasize about what we would change
Time goes by, life moves on
The tears have dried up and the pain is gone
God has healed my deepest wound
Forgiven and I have done the same
An acoustic guitar holds sway over the full length of “Reflections”, the albums second instrumental.
The clashing of symbols introduces “In Your Name We Pray”. Stepping into an edgy sounding guitar riff, the song chops ahead at a mid-tempo pace until erupting with an abundance of resolve for a chorus that comes across worshipful in capacity:
Lord of Lords King of Kings –
The Almighty Prince of Peace
Immanual, Great I AM – Savior, Son of Man
The Way, TheTruth, The Life
The Son of God, Jesus Christ
In Your Name we pray
The power and majesty of Sacred Warrior comes to mind when listening to this one.
The Da Vinci Hoax proves such a solid effort musically – I enjoy every minute of the album – I find it difficult to give it a grade as “low” as 75%. But as previously noted there are several areas of improvement worth noting. First, it is important that any future project recorded by Prinson and Bowden obtain a more professional sounding mix. Second, if The Sacrificed is ever going to be mentioned in the same sentence with the Sacred Warrior’s, Jacobs Dream’s and Fates Warning’s of the world it is necessary a first rate lead player be acquired (or at least bring in a guest guitarist or two the next time when entering the studio). Still, I look forward to hearing more from this talented duo based upon the great potential displayed here.
Track Listing: “Footsteps (Intro)” (:14), “The Fight” (2:50), “Newsflash” (1:26), “The DaVinci Hoax” (3:34), “The Beginning” (:33), “Altar Call” (3:55), “Ghost Of Iniquity” (3:32), “In Vain” (4:38), “Forgiven” (3:40), “Reflections” (1:55), “In Your Name We Pray” (4:00)
Eli Prinson – Lead Vocals & Drums
Johnny Bowden – Guitars, Bass & Keyboards