Sardonyx - Rebel of Reason (Lightshine) 1990
When this tape came out I was on a personal quest to find any and every Christian metal band I could. I stumbled upon this demo tape and discovered a band that would affect me in ways I cannot describe. I can say that Sardonyx helped shape the way I see Christian metal and Christian ministry. Anyhow, I played this four song tape over and over again. This is simply great heavy metal. I remember thinking they reminded me of Metal Church back when I first got it. Tom Denlinger has said that this tape may be put onto CD in the form of bonus tracks on a re-issued "Majestic Serenity".
Sardonyx - Linear Progression (independent) 2005
1. "Sing to the Lord"
After nearly a decade away, Sardonyx return with this powerful metal EP. The band describes their music as worship metal, and certainly that is what this is. Three of the four songs included here have lyrics that I would most certainly call "worship". I would even imagine that "Master and My King" would work great in a more acoustic setting during a worship service. "Linear Progression" is Christian metal in the truest sense, right down to a bit of preaching at the end "I'm Free" about the nature of Jesus. This may turn some potential listeners away, but I would be willing to bet that Sardonyx are more concerned with the smaller flock that will give a listen than those who will turn away. Sardonyx have never been concerned as much with mainstream success as they have with populating the Kingdom of Heaven. The band hasn't ignored their roots and have remained true to their power metal roots, adding on a bit of more modern influences. This is most apparent on the opening track, "Sing to the Lord", which also happens to be the heaviest song. "Master and My King" and "I'm Free" are more mid-paced, melodic, traditional sounding rockers, while the final track "Power Unto You" returns to the power metal sound that the band is known for. Here's to the return of one of Christian metal's underground champs. Here's hoping it won't take another decade before we get a full length CD.
Sardonyx - Majestic Serenity/Rebel of Reason (Retroactive) 2007
Majestic Serenity (1994)
The original "Majestic Serenity" was released in 1994 independently by Sardonyx. Over a decade later and this fantastic metal album is finally being released on a proper label with much improved artwork and far superior mastering. Starting around 2002 on the band's website they had been promising for years that they were going to re-release "Majestic Serenity" with the "Rebel of Reason" demo as bonus tracks and that is exactly what we finally have here. The album cover art is much improved with a completely new cover, although the inside cover features the original cover art, although severely altered from the original. The new insert is a 10-page full color booklet and includes all the original liner notes, including all the lyrics and song explanations. Despite this album having such a big impact on me in the early-to-mid 1990's I honestly hadn't pulled it out and given it a spin in quite some time. Hearing all these songs again fresh after all these years, I was in metal heaven singing along to each and every song. Musically, Sardonyx ride a fine line between early American power metal and speed metal like Metal Church, Meliah Rage and Vicious Rumors.
The bonus tracks from the Rebel of Reason are a nice addition. I'm not so sure the mastering improved these tracks though. I have the original tape demo. I don't remember it sounding so tinny and wishy. I think the mastering only serves to bring out the flaws in the original recording rather than enhancing the recording. Also, there is a noticeable drop out in the song "Scandal" that I don't recall being on the original tape. I'll have to dig that demo out and play it to see if it was there and I had just forgotten. Still nice to finally have these songs on CD.
1. Sons of the Kingdom (8:02)
2. Child of the King (5:32)
3. Greater Things (6:24)
4. All That We Are (4:47)
5. Power and Love (5:53)
6. Perfected (5:24)
7. Awake (7:25)
8. My Bride Beloved (7:22)
9. Angel Armies (6:08)
Despite having been around for three decades, "Sons of the Kingdom" is only the second full length Sardonyx album, with their last one being released in 1992. I have minced no words in saying that this band was a huge influence on me as a young Christian in the early 1990's. Their early demo and the "Majestic Serenity" CD were easily some of the most played albums in my collection for years and years. So it was with much excitement that I learned of a new album was coming from the band in 2018. (In fact the band even contacted me about doing some graphic design work and possibly the cover for the album. Unfortunately for whatever reason that never transpired.) The band returns with several of the original members including Tom Denlinger (vocals), Rod Feltman (guitars) and Chuck Turner (bass). However, with 26 years between releases I was not sure what to expect. After all, a couple decades can certainly change a man’s taste in music, their musical skills and even their beliefs and convictions. Fortunately Sardonyx have not wavered in the intensity of their message.
What has changed in the style of power metal that these guy are playing. While "Majestic Serenity" had two feet firmly planted in the 1980's US power metal camp (Metal Church, Reverend, Helstar, Vicious Rumors, etc.) this new album is more modern sounding with one foot planted in the progressive metal camp and the other in the power metal camp. It really isn't a radical departure but it is a noteworthy change. The guitar shredding of Rod Feltman has been replaced by more vocals. Feltman is a shredder but is relegated to keeping the crunch factor up for this release. Chuck Turner's bass guitar was an integral part of Sardonyx's sound and his performances here parallel those on the early recordings, especially on some of the more progressive numbers. Tom Denlinger sings with as much emotion as he always had. While he may not have the range of guys like Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden), James Rivera (Helstar) and Geroge Call (Aska/Banshee), he certainly makes up for it with pure unadulterated passion. As such, the musicianship is top notch here and shows that this band hasn't lost their chops over the decades.
Where this album stumbles is in memorable songs. Overall the songs on "Sons Of The Kingdom" do not feature the immediate and huge impact that the songs had on "Majestic Serenity". On that album I would be pounding a fist in the air, headbanging and singing along to each and every song. The hooks were immediate and could catch the nastiest of sharks in the ocean. For the most part with "Sons of the Kingdom" even after repeated listens I tend to find the songs forgettable. I mean, this is a band I adore, so I really wanted to love it. The albums opening track does give hope that the whole album would retain those big hooks. The title track after several spins did start to "feel familiar", as well "Power & Love" has some resemblance to the feel of the worship songs on "Majestic Serenity". Overall however, I find that the band proudly put their message over the songwriting. In fact it can be said that Sardonyx has put sermons to music. Each song features lyrics drawn directly out of the Holy Scripture with long lists of Biblical references and explanations behind each song. "Sons Of The Kingdom" is primarily about the words and message with the music designated as something of a backdrop to the message.
The package features a beautiful cover image that I can only assume is a photograph from Alaska, a state in the USA that Tom Denlinger spends a lot of time in as a missionary. The full-color 8-page booklet is packed with text and as such there is no room for any photos or graphics. Unfortunately there is so much text that the tiny type is hard to read. In fact, the song titles and band listing on the back tray is nearly impossible to read. (Unreadable text in CD booklets is a personal pet peeve of mine.)
All in all, I think that many Christian metal fans will find this to be an exciting and uplifting album. The message of hope in Jesus Christ is crystal clear. Those that find the lyrics to be the most important part of the music have a band that has not forgotten the "Christian" part of Christian metal.
Back to Index