|Musical Style: Heavy Metal||Produced By: The Sacrificed|
|Record Label: Roxx Productions||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2010||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 15||Rating: 90%|
|Running Time: 50:18|
You’ve heard one metal album, you’ve heard them all, right? Man, are you jaded. If the metal scene has grown stale for you or are indifferent in terms of the genre then give 2012, the summer of 2010 Roxx Productions sophomore release from Lakeland, Florida’s The Sacrificed, the time it deserves. As a matter of fact, if you only make one metal album purchase a year then make sure this is it.
Why? Well, it all comes down to the progress most bands make between their first album, which can often be a bit rough around the edges in places, and second. And The Sacrificed proves no exception. If anything, 2012 reflects the significant musical growth and maturity made by the group since putting out its 2007 full length debut The DaVinci Hoax.
At this point it must be reinforced that The DaVinci Hoax is far from a bad album – it’s actually quite solid musically in receiving a 75% Angelic Warlord review – but does not always hold up in comparison to 2012. The main difference between the two is that 2012 presents with upgrades in three key areas: band performance (particularly in terms of its instrumental sound), songwriting (all around tighter and well rounded feel) and production (much more polished and professional).
Eli Prinsen continues to bring a high level of performance with his high pitched and operatic vocal presence. A classically trained vocalist, Prinsen deserves to be in the same category as Rey Parra (Sacred Warrior), David Taylor (Jacobs Dream), Vett Roberts (Recon), Ski (Faith Factor) and Geoff Tate (Queensryche). Yes, very good company indeed. But it is not all high end wailing and falsetto after falsetto in that a more versatile side to his abilities can be found in some somber and low-key flavorings he adds not unlike that of Jimmy P. Brown (Deliverance) and Eric Clayton (Saviour Machine).
Johnny Bowden returns on guitar. One of the critical elements I pointed out in my review of The DaVinci Hoax was the lack of emphasis the band placed on its instrumental sound. Well, this has been rectified on 2012 in that The Sacrificed has turned this area into a strength. It all comes down to the key role played by Bowden, reflected in the scorching lead work he contributes, particularly throughout the albums first half. But as with Prinsen, he also displays an element of versatility with some periodic bluesy tinctures and well timed lush acoustic based moments.
The first instinct one has, of course, is to compare The Sacrificed to the previously referenced bands, but that would be misleading in that there is more to The Sacrificed than just power metal. Yes, the album has its power metal moments in that high energy pieces “2012” and “No Promises Of Tomorrow” would not sound out of place on any album by Sacred Warrior or Jacobs Dream. The group also flexes its muscles on “The Return”, a track highlighting some riffs with a traditional metal feel, and the face melting Deliverance cover “Slay The Wicked” (from Weapons Of Our Warfare).
That said, one aspect to The Sacrificed I appreciate is how they refuse to be pigeonholed. In other words, the group is not afraid to branch out and expand upon its sound while throwing us a few “curve balls” along the way. “The Path To Righteousness”, for instance, with its dark and moody vibe, almost approaches Goth metal territory while the ballad “I Concede” and instrumental “Love & Hope” make effective use of acoustic guitar. You will also find some modern elements to 2012 as well, but it is nothing to be concerned about in that The Sacrificed has not turned into one of those cookie-cutter-fill-in-the-blanks modern rock bands that all seem to sound the same. Rather, they mix in some tasteful modern guitar tones on a few key tracks – the dramatic “Freedom” and symphonic “Victorious” rank with the albums finest - in the same manner Stryper added the occasional touch to Murder By Pride.
Lyrically, I hesitate to call 2012 a concept album but there seems to be a theme revolving around end times prophecy and the second coming; I am somewhat reminded of Revelation Project in this capacity. Irregardless, 2012 showcases perhaps the finest lyrics I have come across this year.
The albums power metal influenced title track is a non-stop barn burner, four minutes of aggressive guitar riffs and heavy duty drumming that will pull you in at a moments notice. Despite the relentless onslaught, Prinsen stands out with his soaring vocal presence while Bowden bestows a storm-like stretch of lead guitar. This one represents The Sacrificed at its best. “2012” takes a prophetic look at modern society:
December twenty first two thousand and twelve
Two thousand and twelve
Jesus warned about false prophets and their evil schemes
Nostradamus quatrains - Bible code matrices
Oh it’s so plain to see – we’re just searching for some way-
To give our lives some meaning
Intrigued and mystified with the unknown
We want life to matter more to us than mere flesh and bone
We have eternal souls and Jesus is the key
The only pathway to immortality
Narration from presidents Reagan and Kennedy help add a dramatic feel to “Freedom”. The song, otherwise, comes across positive and upbeat with its modern guitar flavorings (though not to a fault) and melodic sensibilities approaching the pronounced. More radiant soloing is bestowed to what amounts to one of the stronger tracks here.
“No Promise Of Tomorrow” returns things to a power metal heading. Starting slowly to Prinsen’s low key vocal delivery, the song picks up in pace to a deluge of rhythm guitar prior to charging its way to a curtly done chorus that finds momentum slowing exponentially. Bowden lets loose with another stretch of searing lead guitar. The focus here is making correct eternal decision:
Wish I knew this was a dream
My God this just cannot be happening
I’m sorry now, I wanna live
I’m a good guy I’ve got so much to give
Cannot move, cannot scream as…
The Book of Life is opening
It’s too late for me to change
To all the living please
Don’t wait another day
Immortality and eternal life
Light and dark – good and evil
The choice is yours
Some traditional metal guitar riffs highlight “The Return”. Carried its distance in up-tempo fashion, the song proves a low end cruncher with its weighty feel and nothing less than a perfectly produced rhythm guitar sound. The hook you will find pronounced and momentum gripping. I can easily see Barren Cross or Saint doing something like this. “The Return” draws its lyrics from the Book of Revelation:
And I saw the beast and his armies and the kings of the earth
Gathering together to make war against Him who sat on the horse
The beast and the false prophet were cast alive into the lake of fire
The rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the
Mouth of Him who sat on the throne
And all the fowls were filled with their flesh
The plodding and bottom heavy “The Path To Righteousness” almost brings a Gothic feel. The song, with its mid-paced capacity and abstruse form, represents a powerful work characterized by its share of time signatures and intensity belying the musical environs at hand. The overall feeling left is Chaz Bond era Jacobs Dream. Breaking from the past is the subject at hand:
Now the pain is fading away
The past is in the past where it always should have stayed
I’ll learn from my mistakes and take a leap of faith
Towards the future
I’ve been set free and born again
The man I used to be has dies with all those sins
My God has rescued me from my insanity
I am found
“In Heaven”, the albums second modern influenced piece, represents an upbeat hard rocker with its front to back energy and uplifting disposition. Quite the compelling melody is combined with a proclivity for the worshipful.
“I Concede” is the lone ballad here. Well constructed and conceived, the song moves its first two minutes acoustically prior to picking up in pace once the rhythm section kicks in. A more hard rocking flair is put forth the final minute and a half as a pronounced guitar carries things to their close. An almost 70’s feel is conveyed in the process.
More modern flavorings can be found on “Victorious”. What we have here is perhaps the albums finest, with its symphonic touches – as can be found in a perfectly executed grand and regal chorus – and histrionic environs rivaling that of “Freedom”. Occasional outbursts of keyboards add to the stately milieu. “Victorious” deals with the second coming:
All nations sing He is victorious
Over hell and death triumphant He returns to meet us in the sky
With great power and glory He has arrived
Like a thief in the night, faster than the speed of light
Comes the ultimate event in the history of all mankind
As it was in Noah’s day people ate and were married
Not knowing until the great flood rains came and took them all away
“Father”, a short interlude piece, is upheld by a quietly played guitar and narration sandwiched between sounds of a voice messaging machine.
“Saved”, the final of the modern tracks, works but is not on the same level as the other modern compositions here. No, far from bad, but at this point I am ready for another scorcher along the lines of “2012” or “The Return”. That said, it must be noted the song brings an inspiring tempo and solid melody.
“Love And Hope”, a three minute acoustic instrumental, gives way to “Believe”. What we have in “Believe” is a return to a more hard rocking direction with its guitar driven emphasis and darker – almost emotional – overtones. Prinsen adds to the resonant backdrop by occasionally singing in a lower register while a contrasting element, of course, can be found in a couple of his trademark falsettos. “Believe” sums up the albums theme:
Jesus paid the price for me
Free to all- no hidden fees
All you have to do is believe
Many fearing judgment day
But with the truth, the light and the way
Heaven’s just a heartbeat away
Almighty God forgave me
The Holy Spirit guiding me
Onto the path I need to be nourished by His every word
I recognize just how absurd the foolish lies of the enemy are!
The Deliverance cover “Slay The Wicked”, as one would imagine, is the most aggressive number to 2012. The Sacrificed do a good job staying true to the spirit of the original but, at the same time, lend their unique mark to the track. The end result is an assertive joining of assailing guitar riffs and unremitting drum assaults with a slight thrash feel underpinning things. The song even starts to the same narration found on the first version.
The best way to sum up would be to state that what The DaVinci Hoax hinted at in terms of potential 2012 delivers. And deliver it does with songwriting that is spot on and nothing less than top of the line performances from Prinsen and Bowden. Whether you make just one metal purchase a year or are an avid follower of the scene, I cannot help but give this the highest recommendation.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “System Failure” (:20), “2012” (4:20), “Freedom” (4:56), “No Promise Of Tomorrow” (3:26), “The Return” (2:58), “The Path To Righteousness” (4:10), “In Heaven” (3:32), “I Concede” (4:50), “Victorious” (4:14), “Father” (1:47), Saved” (3:30), “Love And Hope” (3:18), “Believe” (3:57), “Slay The Wicked” (4:00), “Time” (:50)
Eli Prinsen – Lead Vocals & Guitars
Johnny Bowden – Guitars
Jay Williams - Drums