|Review: Sacred Blade - Of the Sun + Moon|
|Of the Sun + Moon|
Label: Othyr World Recordingz
Year released: 1999
Originally released in: 1986
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: March 5, 2017
Reviewed by: Omni
for:Of the Sun + Moon
Sacred Blade was a relatively obscure heavy metal band from Vancouver that was formed in 1978 by guitarist and vocalist Jeff "The Pilot" Ulmer and guitarist Will "Nacsar" Rascan. Joined by bassist James "Zed" Channing and drummer Paul "Pol" Davis, the band recorded a song entitled "The Alien" that was featured on the Metal Massacre IV compilation in 1983. While they had already written many songs and recorded some demo material, it would not be until 1986 that they would release their first and only full-length album. Sacred Blade's unique brand of heavy metal was appropriately labeled as "astral alloy" by Vancouver music critic Tom Harrison, and the use of nicknames and intentionally altered spelling in the layout, song titles and lyrics on the album helped to give it a distinctly alien character that made them stand out from most other heavy metal acts on the Black Dragon Records roster during the 1980s.
Where "The Alien" was a frantic and straightforward speed metal track with wailing vocals, Of the Sun + Moon is mostly a much more relaxed effort. "Salem" and "The Enlightenment/Master of the Sun" retain much of that earlier speed metal influence, but most of the album's duration is dedicated to cosmic heavy metal influenced by bands such as Rush and Captain Beyond. This gives this album a decidedly different sound than most of what was going on in 1986, as it almost sounds like a forgotten relic from the previous decade. Despite the relatively subdued nature of some of the tracks, the band keeps things interesting by crafting many beautiful and engaging melodies that invoke the mood of interstellar exploration and adventure in the final frontier. In keeping with the music, the majority of the lyrics on this album are dedicated to outer space, with the sun and moon being recurring themes.
This album is a unique entity among 1980s heavy metal, juxtaposing aggressive metal tracks with progressive space rock. The epic closer "Moon" is perhaps the most contemplative piece on the album, and a wondrous example of the band's ability to slow down and showcase their melodic talents. It's a shame that this would be the only album from Sacred Blade, although Jeff Ulmer would revive compositions from this album for 2005's Beyond into the Night of Day under the name of Othyrworld. There are several Sacred Blade demos that could have made for another album of fantastic songs, but it seems that was not meant to be. The band would continue to be active into the 1990s, even headlining a show in the United States when Metallica backed out at the last minute, but they would never go beyond the demo phase again. Of the Sun + Moon remains as a fantastic album by a young band with the potential to reach the stars. Sadly, Jeff Ulmer passed away after having a stroke in 2013, so this album remains out of print and can be quite difficult to track down.
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