Album of the Week 46-2014: Warlord – Deliver Us


Some legends of Heavy Metal have their praise based on an incredibly small amount of output. For many of the unsung heroes of the NWOBHM movement, only a handful of singles remains as a monument to their supposed brilliance. California’s Warlord has recently expanded their catalog a little, but for a while, two half-hour albums were all the band had going for them. The praise they got, however, was more than deserved. While their original oeuvre predates the term Power Metal, that’s exactly what it is. And the whole thing sounds remarkably sophisticated for the genre too.

Despite the consistent input of drummer extraordinaire Mark Zonder, Warlord is and will always be the brainchild of guitarist William J Tsamis – “Destroyer” in the credits. His classy riffwork and unorthodox approach to Heavy Metal songwriting – some things he said in interviews may make one doubt if he ever actually liked the genre – are what make Warlord’s music. Listen no further than the semi-title track to this debut EP of theirs; ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ counts as an ultimate Heavy Metal classic through its triumphant main riff, marching rhythm, subtle keyboard flourishes and beautiful vocal harmonies.

And that brings us to one of the other redeeming factors of ‘Deliver Us’. Singer Jack Rucker – “Damien King I” in the credits – isn’t your typical Heavy Metal singer in the sense that he doesn’t have the raw, primal power that is normally associated with the more traditional variation of the genre, but his voice fits the ethereal quality of the melodies on ‘Deliver Us’ so well that it’s hard to imagine these songs with a different singer. He carries the changes in atmosphere in the brilliant ‘Penny For A Poor Man’ with remarkable ease. It borders on unbelievable that Rucker never did anything of particular relevance in the Metal scene after leaving Warlord, because his vocal performance here is among my favorites in the history of the genre.

‘Child Of The Damned’ is one of the more popular songs on the album due to inclusion on the Metal Blade compilation ‘Total Destruction’ and HammerFall covering the song much later. It is definitely the most explicitely uptempo song on the album and benefits from a great riff and fantastic double bass work by Zonder. Even better is the ‘Metal Massacre III’ inclusion ‘Mrs. Victoria’, due to its darker, ominous tone. That one’s only included on the re-release of ‘Deliver Us’, but it definitely rounds out the release. The more tranquil ‘Winter Tears’ is another brilliant track with a great vocal part courtesy of Rucker.

It’s easy to understand why ‘Deliver Us’ has earned its classic status. It’s a classy Power Metal album with a unique approach to Heavy Metal songwriting. The expert musicianship from everyone involved does the rest. Tsamis and Zonder have continued the Warlord legacy intermittently throughout the years and although they’re still releasing quality material, but the way all the starts have aligned for ‘Deliver Us’ is a rarity. A rarity waiting to be heard.

Recommended tracks: ‘Deliver Us From Evil’, ‘Penny for A Poor Man’, ‘Winter Tears’

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