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Sacred Heart

The Vision

Review by Greg Olma

I guess the old say “timing is everything” is accurate.  The release of The Vision by Pure Steel Records is a gem that should have been released 25 years ago.  Had Sacred Heart put this out in let’s say 1985, then I think it would have been a big hit.  It has all the right metal elements that were starting to hit their stride in the mid 80s.  These guys would have giving Dokken a run for their money by incorporating some sounds from the NWOBHM like Iron Maiden and mixing that with some of the melodic sounds coming from the L.A. scene.  The guitars, courtesy of Bryon Nemeth, are definitely the focal point of much of the music but Keith Van Tassel and Ray Richter both put in some great vocal performances.  The material can be broken up into two sections with the first section being more melodic metal while the second half is more prog rock.  Of course, that’s logical because the first half was actually recorded by the band Sacred Heart, while the second half is an EP by the Byron Nemeth Group.  Either way, each part consists of great tunes that make for a very enjoyable disc.  Even though the music may have missed the mark on timing to become a huge hit doesn’t mean that this should become part of your music collection. 

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
We’ll Hold On Till Tomorrow

The album starts off in Dokken style with a melodic rocker that was perfect for the late 80s metal scene.  Van Tassel has very Don Dokken style of singing and that is not a bad person to emulate a style after.  It is a slick metal tune that might have been lumped into the hair metal genre but that would have been an unfair assessment.

New Order
Musically this cut has a lot of Iron Maiden in it but it still has that melodic rock slant to the vocals.  If you had Don Dokken singing for Iron Maiden, then you would have a good indication of what this tune sounds like.  I am surprised at how well the mix of NWOBHM works with the melodic vocal style.
The Vision

The Maiden sound continues and follows the style of “New Order.”  This cut is a little heavier than the previous track and twin guitar solo reminds me a little of Thin Lizzy.  The vocals at times are hauntingly close to Dokken’s that if you were to tell me that these were unreleased Dokken tracks, I would totally believe it.

Time After Time

The intro guitar riff reminds me of Judas Priest but once the tune kicks in, it is has elements of Fates Warning in it.  I think it’s the high vocals that lead me to that conclusion but musically, this one has a bit of that commercial Fates Warning sound like on Parallels.

Take Hold

This rocker is very much in the Dokken style both musically and vocally.  The guitar solo is good and reminds me of the shredders from back in the day.  Not too long after this music was first released the guitar solo was passé but luckily for those of us who were around to remember, the guitar solo was a thing of beauty.  The solo on this cut is not necessarily stellar but it has a great vibe to it and it fits the song perfectly.

Demon’s Wing

Here is where the guitars really shine.  The beginning is very Yngwie Malmsteen-ish and once the song really kicks in, it is very much in that Malmsteen style.  So far, this is the odd track out as it really doesn’t fit the rest of the album.  I’m not complaining and in fact, it is nice change.  There are a lot of keyboards on this one and that helps give it that Malmsteen sound.

Selfish

We get another left turn with “Selfish.” This one has some keyboards that give it a 70s Rainbow sound.  The vocals are less Dokken-ish as well.  The riffing also reminds me of older Deep Purple.  The guitar solo also has an older rock style to it as opposed to the Malmsteen-esque style on “Demon’s Wing.”

The Game

This one reminds me a little of Kansas.  It is a piano ballad with violins-like sounds on it and it has the Kansas feel from the Vinyl Confessions era.  There are some cool prog moments where the song changes gears quickly and throws the listener for a loop.  Even though it’s kind of a ballad, it is more than just your typical hair metal power ballad.

Dreamcatcher

I’m going to go on limb here and compare this cut as something you would hear by a prog band called “Enchant.”  This is a great priggish tune that incorporates some prog elements in with heavier metal moments to make quite an interesting track.  The drumming and guitars are especially in the forefront.  These last couple of songs are very different from the cuts actually recorded by Sacred Heart.

What’s Done Is Done
The Enchant comparison continues on this cut.  The last three tracks have a definite prog element to them and if you are into that sound (like me) then these will be the ones you gravitate towards when choosing songs to listen to off this disc.  I like this track because, like the few others before it, it has some twists and turns that really keep the listener on their toes. 
 
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