SACRED LEATHER - Ultimate Force
February 19, 2018, a year ago
(Cruz Del Sur)
The moniker bestowed upon these Indianapolis metallers just reeks of the ‘80s, and that's a good thing in my book. Not any poofy haired, MTV wannabe, but rather the music generated by the burgeoning Bay Area thrash scene, countless European acts (Mercyful Fate/Heavy Load, Accept, anyone?) and of course the NWOBHM pioneers. Not that Sacred Leather beg their sound to any one specific entity, just capturing that (naive?) spirit. The beards/facial hair might be out of character, but the reliance on studs, bullet belts and shirtless denim vests reads like a page out of (my own personal) history. Even the adoption of “metallic” pseudonyms/surnames (Wrathchild, Blitz, Highway) recalls that glorious era. So, does the music cut it?
Debut studio effort, although they apparently self-financed a live effort in 2015 (nothing repeated on the two records). No grunts/growls, but rather singing and the odd stratosphere scraping vocal. From an American band? Wow! On “Master Is Calling”, singer Dee Wrathchild adopts a Lizzy Borden pattern. The title track kicks things off, something of a lost Judas Priest outtake, but “Power Thrust” also seems inspired by later Halford double entendre lyrics, circa Defenders Of The Faith (“Love Bites” Eat Me Alive”, “Jawbreaker”, etc). The soft, slow, ballady “Dream Searcher” is the atypical, 8:16 “oddball,” midway through the seven tracks (conveniently, like the vinyl days, the disc is capable of fitting on one side of a D-90 cassette, lasting just under 42 minutes and that's with two cuts clocking in over eight minutes, each!). “Prowling Sinner” begins acoustic, then gradually revs up, the fastest track overall, with catchy riffing. A lengthy “The Lost Destructor/Priest Of The Undoer” finale, seemingly combining a thunder/lightning effects laden instrumental/intro and legitimate tune. Maybe things are different onstage, but comes off a little too clean/polished. Not a bad (less is more) introduction, especially for a domestic act, but need a bit more grit/dirt, in my metal. Keep up the good work.