|Musical Style: Power Metal||Produced By: Warlord|
|Record Label: Atrheia||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2002||Artist Website: Warlord|
|Tracks: 9||Rating: 90%|
|Running Time: 50:49|
“I’m not interested in commercialism, I’m interested in artistic expression.”
Warlord was initially put together in the early eighties by founding members guitarist William Tsamis and drummer Mark Zonder. Playing an epic form of power metal influenced by the European metal aesthetic, Tsamis and Zonder took on mythological pseudonyms – Destroyer and Thunder Child respectively – before joining forces with vocalist Jack Rucker (aka: Damien King I) and keyboardist Diane Kornarens (aka: Sentinel) and recording a six song EP entitled Deliver Us in 1983. After recruiting a new vocalist in Rick Cunningham (aka: Damien King II) and bassist Dave Watry (aka: Archangel), Warlord released its full length debut And The Cannons Of Destruction Have Begun – which served as a soundtrack to a concert video the band taped at the time – the ensuing year. Cunningham was replaced on lead vocals by Rick Anderson (aka: Damien King III) before the band disbanded following the release of a compilation entitled Thy Kingdom Come in 1986. Tsamis went on to record two albums with Lordian Guard while Zonder resurfaced in the progressive metal band Fates Warning.
The chapter on Warlord remained closed until 2002 when, following an eighteen year hiatus, Tsamis joined forces with Zonder and legendary Hammerfall vocalist Joacim Cans to record a very fine comeback effort entitled Rising Out Of The Ashes. Embracing the Warlord tradition by moving in a dark and epic power metal direction, Rising Out Of The Ashes consists of four tracks recorded by Lordian Guard, one old Warlord song and five new compositions. Tsamis proves a first rate guitarist with his passionate playing, adorning the album with his near mesmerizing leads and guitar harmonies. The talented Zonder puts in a standout effort on drums. Nevertheless, it is Cans who helps put the project over the top, perfectly complementing the material here with his clean and smooth sounding vocal delivery. In an interview at metal-temple.com Tsamis had the following to say about Cans:
I think Joacim Cans is the perfect heavy metal singer, plain and
simple. He has metal flowing in his veins, he has perfect pitch,
he has attitude in his voice, he can sing high, low, soft, and
powerful. Essentially, that is the definition of an "instrument."
Joacim is not just a singer, he is a instrument, in the same way
that other great metal singers are instruments.1
The production values to Rising Out Of The Ashes give prominence to just the right amount of polish in highlighting crisp but slightly harsh sounding sonics. A more than adequate amount of rhythm guitar accents a clean mix of lead guitar, pronounced bass lines and power-packed drums.
While Rising Out Of The Ashes is by no means a Christian album, its lyrics, written by the bands lone Christian member William Tsamis, address topics ranging from extraterrestrial invaders, nuclear annihilation, the creation of man, John Milton’s Paradise Lost and Homer’s Iliad.
"Battle Of The Living Dead" is the first of the four Lordian Guard songs covered on Rising Out Of The Ashes. Introduced to several seconds of hard hitting rhythm guitar, a double bass driven riff proceeds to convey the song at an upbeat tempo until it peaks for a chorus coming across in the form of a battle cry:
Arise, my friends, arise!
The sword is the spirit of life
Awaken your souls, that you may never die!
In the Battle of the Living Dead
Tsamis follows with over a minute of intense sounding lead guitar work underscored by a punchy bass line.
After "Enemy Mind" begins in a haunting manner to a quietly played guitar line, the rhythm guitar steps forward and takes the song through its first four verses at an anthem-like mid-tempo pace. The sweeping chorus that follows deals with the issue of conflict within:
The sins of the soul will arise
The alien lie is in you
Forever you will fight
The Enemy Mind within you
Lie...in the fields where carrion dine
A two minute instrumental passage is literally buried in tight sounding rhythm guitar harmony.
The science fiction themed "Invaders" gradually fades in to "space like" sound effects. Subsequent to the rhythm guitar kicking in hard and heavy, it stands in support of Cans as he details an advances extraterrestrial civilization searching for a new home due to the death of its home planets star:
We descend from the belt of Orion
Our life-giving star has come to an end
Civilization is dying
We deem to survive, we search for a land
Keyboards accent the song as the aliens set their sights on Earth:
And we've explored the galaxies
There is just one place we can live and breathe
So we will overthrow the race of man
His way of woe and hate command
The aliens, however, reveal their intentions of conquest during the songs brief but smooth sounding chorus:
We are invaders from afar, a dying star
Arise and see, the earth in ashes
An edgy rhythm guitar pushes "Invaders" forward as the extraterrestrials prepare for war:
We sail through the system Solaris
With thousands of ships in speed of light
Hail to our leader we cherish
Our weapons of war prepared for the fight
Humanity gets the worse end of the deal during the conflict that ensues:
Through solemn war, our race it must survive
Yet with remorse, the race of man must die
Through laser forces, with humans we collide
There is no hope for mankind to survive
An abundance of tight sounding rhythm guitar harmony interrupted by a few seconds of clanging cowbells carries a two minute instrumental passage.
“Winds Of Thor” was originally written for Warlord back in the eighties but not recorded until it appeared on Lordian Guard’s self titled debut in 1995. Set in motion by a blend of blowing wind and loud hammering, a crisp sounding rhythm guitar takes over and drives the song in an epic flavored manner to a good hard hitting chorus. A minute of sharp sounding lead guitar work brings out the best in a song dealing with an oppressed Nordic people who call on their god of war to deliver them from their evil oppressors:
Now you've come to our village
And you've taken all that we have
And your king sends his brigands
To take our lives and lead us to our deaths
For you are the mighty, and we are the low
You have the power, but the force we have will roar forever more
Winds of Thor, Winds of Thor
I like how the song closes to deep sounding vocal harmonies that continually repeat the phrase "We will invoke the mighty Winds of Thor."
Based around Revelation 12:7-9 (I strongly encourage you to read it now) but inspired by John Milton's Paradise Lost, "War In Heaven" ranks among the finest power metal numbers this reviewer has heard. After getting underway to a slowly played guitar line, catchy rhythm guitar harmony fades in and propels the song through its first four verses in sublime fashion as Cans portrays the two forces involved in the literal "war in heaven":
They rise from this fiery region
On dragon-like wings, by thousands they've come to war
And dark are the Seraphic Legions
With armor and shield, they raise their flaming swords
The celestial armies of heaven
Descend from the Sovereigns' sky forth God's command
And lo, Michael with sword in hand
He leads the Lordian Guard to slay to damn
Following two minutes of intense sounding rhythm guitar harmony and lead guitar work, "War In Heaven" slows prior to regaining its momentum and detailing how "the dragon and his angels were not strong enough and lost their place in heaven":
On chariots of thunder and lightning
On Lordian Steeds the angels smite their foe
And the Seraph they fall to destruction
And the hounds and the carrion of hell feast on their corpse
Now lost is the Archangel Lucifer
Who thought in his mind, he could rise to Empyrean dominion
'Til fate was his woe
The will of God his woe...
A significant amount of credit goes to Cans who helps bring out the best in the song with his emotionally charged vocal delivery.
"My Name Is Man" is the closest any of the albums material comes to falling under the "power metal ballad" category. A combination of waves washing upon the shore and keyboards opens the song before it advances through its first and second verse to a slowly played guitar line. Picking up in pace when the rhythm section enters the mix at the onset of the third, Tsamis follows the fourth with a minute of melodic based lead guitar work. "My Name Is Man" deals with the creation of man and the beauty of the whole creation of nature:
My name is Man, from dust I stand
A newborn song, a story
Upon this land, Almighty hands,
Hath filled my eyes with glory
We are earth, we war heaven
We are flesh, we are blood
We inherit Thy Kingdom
We are all, we are One...
"Lucifer's Hammer", another old Warlord song the band initially recorded for the classic Metal Massacre II compilation in the eighties, deals with the very real threat of nuclear annihilation that existed at the time:
The obliteration of man, now encased in its shell
At the push of a button, we all will go to hell
Who will be left to toll the funeral bell...
The song jumps out of the gate to an upbeat blend of rhythm guitar and pounding drums that give way to screaming air raid sirens immediately following its second verse. Subsequent to Cans stating, "The Hammer will fall on you!" Tsamis adds a minute of energetic lead guitar work. Vocal harmonies repeating the phrase "Save us- from ourselves" cover the songs last thirty seconds until it ends to a resounding explosion.
The vocal harmonies at the start of "Sons Of A Dream" transition to a quietly played guitar line, the song gradually gaining momentum as catchy rhythm guitar harmony smoothly impels it strong and steady to a chorus with an atmospheric feel. Tsamis steps forward with a minute of tight sounding lead guitar work.
As its title suggests, "Achilles Revenge" is based around the mythical figure in question from Homer's Iliad:
He was the mighty Achilles
He sought the glory of war
In the heat of fighting and killing
He bought the blood of his enemies, with his sword
He stole their breath, giving them the grave as their reward
He was the mighty Achilles
He slaughtered legions at war
With the speed of lightning and zeal
He carved his name, forever into books of lore
An immortal legend- helmet, shield and sword
Beginning as the infamous Trojan horse is pulled into the ancient city of Troy, a pounding riff backed by militant style drumming proceeds to drive "Achilles Revenge" through its verse portions. After transitioning to an extensive instrumental passage carried by Tsamis’ blinding lead guitar work, the song closes the album by twice repeating a very strong chorus delivered in epic-like fashion.
In combining creative songwriting and a top notch production job with the combined excellence of William Tsamis, Mark Zonder and Joacim Cans, Rising Out Of The Ashes adds up to a can't miss scenario. While "War In Heaven" is nothing less than a classic, "Winds Of Thor", "Invaders" and "Achilles Revenge" all hold up equally well with their abundant guitar driven energy. Let's hope it is not another eighteen years before we hear from Warlord again!
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Battle Of The Living Dead” (4:12), “Enemy Mind” (6:07), “Invaders” (6:26), “Winds Of Thor” (6:04), “War In Heaven” (7:07), “My Name Is Man” (6:06), “Lucifer’s Hammer” (3:45), “Sons Of A Dream” (4:36), “Achilles Revenge” (6:11)
Joacim Cans – Lead Vocals
William J. Tsamis – Guitars & Bass
Mark S. Zonder – Drums
1. “William Tsamis Interview.” Online article available at: www.metal-temple.com