SACRED WARRIOR – Wicked Generation [Remastered / 500 copies] (2019) *EXCLUSIVE*
As requested, here’s in exclusive the recent remastered version of SACRED WARRIOR‘s “Wicked Generation” (1990), the previous album to ‘Obsessions’ posted here yesterday.
Also regarded as one of the best melodic metal / progressive / hard rock albums from the early ’90s, mixing Quensryche-style huge lead vocals, Crimson Glory’s grandeur and a big polished production, this limited edition to 500 units has been fully remastered to expand the many layers of this elaborated record.
Of the four Sacred Warrior albums to have come out on Intense Records, 1990 third full length ”Wicked Generation” is perhaps the most intense: it is a concept album that deals with the sensitive subject of child abuse but from the standpoint of the abused (a young girl) and abuser (her father) in recounting the spiritual journey of both (each come to the faith in the end).
Cover art depicting the young girl at the time she was being abused mirrors the darker nature to the album, both musically and lyrically.
“Wicked Generation”, in aligning with the onerous nature of the subject matter, does not include any power ballads or songs on the commercial side. Keyboards make nary an appearance.
Rather, it stays true to the group’s US metal / hard rock mixed with progressive leanings (noting influences Queensryche, Fates Warning & Crimson Glory) but giving prominence to the rawer feel.
Those rawer nuances come to fruition in terms of production, which I always have identified as thin in lacking a needed element of polish.
Enter the spring of 2019 Retroactive re-issue of Wicked Generation to feature remastering (courtesy of J. Powell at Steinhaus) to provide that missing refinement in question. Gist is a sturdier low end to produce fuller sounding drums (they come off buried on the Intense version) and better defined rhythm guitars (held back by muddiness to the original).
Cover art upgrades as well in that the ”Wicked Generation” title is now lavender as opposed to blue, while the Sacred Warrior logo might still be in red but features red highlighting.
“No Happy Endings” stays true to the theme running through as a haunting opener, somber from how Rey Parra’s silky, smooth classic tenor croon sets the moody tone but also deliberate when factoring Steve Watkins’ muscling low-end bass presence.
Otherwise, it proves severely mid-paced, gradually building force through its emotional introductory minutes until the sharply woven rhythm guitars cut in that enforce its pensive remaining distance.
“Little Secrets” dwells upon the lighter and heavier as another morose piece. It flows quietly its first minute to stilly done harmonies and soaring feedback only to abruptly kick in to driving rhythm guitars that maintain the earnest mid-paced partiality. Tempo does tepidly slow at the mid-point only to regain the turbulent form, but the overall severe focal point prevents it from crossing into ballad territory.
Not so “Standing Free”, a full on metal ballad but not of the commercial kind in that sweeping guitars – to hit quite hard in mirroring the doom-like – urge its length as another mid-paced course is achieved.
Album moves on to a much-needed up-tempo track in “Are You Ready”. It sets a vibrant tone its three-minute span, finding guitars powering in and out of the mix to make a smashing statement.
“Minister By Night” ups energy levels further. This one finds Tony Velazquez bestowing his manifold timekeeping abilities – again, it deserves note the manner in which re-mastering cleans up the low end – while, Bruce Swift cuts loose with a searing stretch of lead guitar. Vocally, Parra lends some fitting grit to his delivery, which contrasts with the velvety vocal harmonies to adorn throughout.
Back the moody-mid tempo with “Miss Linda”. The song begins to several seconds of open-air guitar before transitioning to the assertive riffs to carry its distance – raw and stark but elevated at the same time – as periodic up-tempo outbursts occasionally intervene. Melody all the same is on the haunting side, which lends to the forlorn veneer.
Speaking of melody, “In The Night” potentially delivers albums most in abundance. It characterizes with its downtrodden tinctures, unveiled in terms of the calmly flowing verse section carried over a rolling drumbeat, but also mirthful aspects, upheld in the playful motivation stirring the flowing refrain. I wish the keyboards placed far in the distance received the more prominent mix.
The album closes to three of its best in “Warriors”, title track “Wicked Generation” and “War Torn Here”.
“Warriors” is classic Sacred Warrior style US metal, unveiled in terms of the flailing guitars, heavy-set drums and periodic shouted backing vocals, all of which combine to magnify the seeping front to back vehemence. Hooks are understated but bona fide all the same.
In slowing tempo and correspondingly elevating heaviness, title track separates as a classic metal mauler. It sets an imperative tone with its galloping rhythms and towering guitars but at a moments notice allays momentum for melodic passages to see Parra stretch and let loose in near operatic form. Captured in the process is much of the album’s melancholic emotion.
Sacred Warrior reveals its progressive side on closer “War Torn Hero”. Time signatures abound, starting with the slow and driving opening, but also including the crescendo of pounding drums and behemoth guitars to dominate moving ahead. The song proves every bit intricate over its closing minute and a half as heavy-set backing vocals give way to a delicately done bridge ensued by scaling lead guitar.
This Retroactive reissue meets expectations in this capacity in that I have always held ”Wicked Generation” in high regards musically but production left somewhat desired. Hence, how I appreciate hearing the album in such a sonically improved and up to date form.
Fans of Sacred Warrior and all things classic US metal / hard edged rock are encouraged to pick up this remaster before it goes out of print.
01 – No Happy Endings
02 – Little Secrets
03 – Standing Free
04 – Are You Ready
05 – Minister By Night
06 – Miss Linda
07 – In The Night
08 – Warriors
09 – Wicked Generation
10 – War Torn Hero
Rey Parra – Lead Vocals
Bruce Swift – Guitars
Rick Macias – Keyboards
Steve Watkins – Bass
Tony Velazquez – Drums