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One was one listen too many - 0%

mudbog, May 8th, 2016

No two Warlord releases have the same vocalist. Most of them have burdened the mantle of King Damien, according to the wishes of Destroyer/Raven William Tsamis, guitarist & mastermind of the long running project. The last to bear the mantle, Richard Anderson sang with the band at the end of their original run in the mid-80's singing on an obscure demo & the Zonder-less spin-off project Lordian Winds. After the Cans-fronted Rising From The Ashes, they brought back Anderson for his long overdue album, the mostly amazing Holy Empire. Sadly, through interviews I've learned how disposable vocalists are to Mr. Tsamis, them being an instrument for him to wield as he sees fit. Case in point, on 2013's Holy Empire, one of the 2 worst songs on the album was given to a guest vocalist, Giles Lavery, who would then go on to sing live for the bands shows instead. Lavery appears on the Athens Live DVD, performing the entire 7-song Deliver Us LP and a smattering of tunes from the others. Giles KILLS IT on the live retrospective, particularly in the second half, but his handle of the Mark I-era material was better than King Damien II's handling of the earlier songs on Cannons of Destruction. He seemed a perfect fit to me, but (heir) apparently unfit to wear the crown of the king.

Which finally brings me to Nicholas Leptos, crowned King Damien IV. He is the 3rd lead singer for the band in as many years. Tsamis' claim that he's found the perfect vocalist for the band is put to the test here on this collection of (re)rerecorded songs. Most of Deliver Us is here, a couple from the others. It's hard for me to say anything bad about Greeks. Having been in a band with one (our singer in fact), they seem to be the nicest, friendliest metal-heads. Leptos has a beautiful voice, but feels out of place on the album (more on that in a minute). His delivery is very melodious, overmuch for my taste, but he lacks any aggression or grit where the material needs it. Some of his parts go overly long & he seems off in places. Each of the previous singers was given some new or previously unsung material, which i think helped distinguish each one. An early demo like "The Rainbow" would've fit his style well. That they gave Nicholas Leptos nothing new is a bit of a disservice to him & fans alike. I hope he gets his album like Rick Anderson eventually did ( it does my heart good to hear the 1985 version of "Father" & the 2013 version, knowing what that song meant to them & being one of my faves).

The recording quality is disappointing to say the least. Culled from several sessions, the result feels like demos, hastily mixed for release. I wouldn't be surprised if they just recycled what they could & rerecord the rest. The playing itself seems uninspired too, but they sounded more energetic & rocking in the 81-86 era than the 01-13. I've heard old songs of their much slower in their final forms but still enjoyable (Battle of the Living Dead, case in point). I understand they're probably playing to the same click track here as on the live album, but on this studio collection it falls flatter than a forgotten Budweiser. Battle of the Living Dead sounds like the instrumental tracks from the Rising From The Ashes album. It feels like Warlord threw a karaoke contest where anyone could dub themselves over the tracks & be on a real deal album. Cover is lame too, being a reminder of "Night of the Fury" & it's warmongering. Lyrics are included but no photos or liner notes relating to the titular hunt for Damien.

None of the songs on here stand up to any of their other versions. There is nothing on here that would make me open this CD again beyond an masochistic desire to inflict an Opus Dei-level self flagellation on my soul . With several of the albums being back in print for the first time in years and the new energy being devoted to the long-stalled band's ascent, it can almost be forgiven as a shameless cash-grab so soon after the superior Live in Athens DVD/CD if it weren't as abysmal as that which Lucifer was flung to.

I feel bad giving songs I love so little, but spending money on this really pissed me off. Points which wouldn't have been taken away were deducted for the reasons listed above. I would've liked a more varied song selection. Very few bands can breathe new life into their classic recordings, but having the recent examples provided by Giles Lavery & Nick Leptos, it's clear that the problem with this album is that it exists at all.