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Deliver Us From Mediocrity - 100%

thewalkingdeadpan, March 17th, 2023

As I write this it is currently nighttime on March 13th, 2023, and if you’re wondering why this is important it’s because March 13th is, or rather was, the birthday of Warlord mastermind Will Tsamis as well as only a few weeks shy of the EP’s 40th anniversary. As such I decided to celebrate by writing a review of what I consider the single greatest piece of heavy metal ever written. It’s also my birthday but that’s beside the point.

If there was one thing you didn’t want your metal to be in the 1980s it was Christian. For every Trouble that used the imagery and didn’t come across as preachy, a dozen Strypers were being ridiculed by fans who didn’t bother to actually listen to the music and see if it was good. Then out of nowhere in early 83 Metal Blade Records released a little EP that changed metal forever. Not only did it help pioneer the niche genre of epic metal beating both Manilla Road’s Crystal Logic and Manowar’s Into Glory Ride, which were released later on in the year, but also the nascent US power metal genre that would reach its peak in the coming few years. Between Tsamis’ grandiose yet restrained guitar and bass work, Mark Zonder’s (later of Fates Warning) lived up to his stage name Thunder Child, and keyboard player Diane Korarens’ atmospheric keys truly elevated the music to a higher level when compared to what other bands on Metal Blade doing at the time. No small feat given the fact Slayer, Savage Grace, Armored Saint, Shakin’ Brains, and Bitch all put out material on the label that same year. However, for me, the true stand out are the vocals of Damien King I aka Jack Rucker in what would be not only his one official release with the band but also one of the only two non-compilation releases he’d ever receive a vocalist credit on which I consider a massive shame. His passionate vocals are the main reason why this is my preferred Warlord release when compared to that band’s latter material. It doesn’t help that my two favorite songs on the EP, Winter Tears and Penny For A Poor Man, are the only ones to not be rerecorded for the band’s debut album.

As alluded to earlier the lyrics on this album are from a Christian perspective as typified by the title track which reads almost like a prayer spoken before going into battle, and with song titles like Child Of The Damned and Black Mass it’s not exactly subtle, but honestly, I’d say that probably for the best. Might as well get out ahead of the accusations and just get it over with so that you don’t have to deal with closed-minded people complaining about it. I personally love how poetic they are though I’m also a dumbass who doesn’t have much of a grasp on poetry so that might just be why. Literally, the only complaint I have about this album is that I’m not a fan of the song Mrs. Victoria but that was originally released on Metal Massacre 2 a year prior and only included on the EP with later reissues so I’m not gonna dock points for a bonus track, I’m not quite that petty. YET.

At the end of the day, I consider this to be a perfect piece of music, and while I don’t attach numbers to these reviews (except for when uploaded to The Metal Archives) this would the only release I’d give a perfect score of 100%. I can’t think of a clever way to end this.

Best Tracks: Winter Tears, Penny For A Poor Man, Black Mass

This review was originally written for the Unsung Underground blog: