Solitary Sabred – By Fire & Brimstone Review

I don’t always listen to a band’s prior output before reviewing their upcoming release, but when I do, I occasionally find some gems. When Cypriot band Solitary Sabred entered my schedule, I looked back in the site’s archives and saw that their 2014 release Redemption Through Force had not only been covered, but highly recommended. Naturally, I was intrigued and I sampled. What I found was a heavy/power metal concept album with absolutely insane vocals. Sounding like a mixture of Manowar and Sanctuary due in no small part to singer Petros Leptos’ delivery consisting of three parts Eric Adams and one part early Warrel Dane, I immediately fell in love and ordered a physical copy of the release. As I listen to it, my excitement builds to a fever pitch until the promo for 2020’s By Fire & Brimstone is finally made available to my ears, and I pray to Crom that it will live up to my expectations—and if he doesn’t listen, then to HELL with him!

I don’t believe in fate, but it apparently believes in me. “The Scarlet Citadel” was the first advance track I sampled from By Fire & Brimstone and—I shit you not—I happened to be in the middle of reading the Robert E. Howard short story of the same name for the very first time as I did despite having no idea the album was Conan themed. The track is fun, so I’m not even mad that it spoiled some of the plot for me. Solitary Sabred‘s sound hasn’t changed much in six years—this is as close an approximation to Manowar‘s glory days as we’re likely to get. Songs built around the big, meaty riffs of Demetris Demetriou and Nikolas Moutafis and the Eric-Adams-meets-King-Diamond or Warrel Dane vocal theatrics of Leptos are on tap here, and for the most part, I can recommend that you fill your horn and drink deeply.

“Assassins of Carthage” is a straight-up metal rocker a la Louder than Hell, loud bass and pounding drums driving the mid-paced monster forth while Leptos snarls and soars over the top. “Fires of Koth” falls into Iced Earth territory and concludes “The Scarlet Citadel” saga with another epic mid-paced stomp, and the way that Leptos shrieks the last syllable of the chorus “fires of Koth, burning BRIGHT!” never fails to raise the significant amount of hair that I have on the back of my neck. But not all that paces is mid, Solitary Sabred can even thrash, bro, as evidenced by the furious charge of “Invoking the Master” and “Psionic Transmogrification.” The results are mixed when the band slows thing down, though. Opener “Servants of the Elder Gods” crawls towards the end as Leptos exaggeratedly sustains the penultimate note so he can absolutely wail the final one in classic Eric Adams fashion—and it works like a charm. But, “Blestem” and “Disillusion” try similarly slow speeds and simply stumble. Both contain some questionable vocal lines, the former drags on far too long, and the latter is only redeemed by Leptos dramatically presenting Conan’s famous treatise on the idea of life being an illusion.

True to their heroes in Manowar, Solitary Sabred try to do everything they do louder than hell, and the production is no different. Several times I made the mistake of playing this promo immediately after some of my others that had higher DR ratings, and I found myself running to turn the volume down. But the sound itself perfectly matches the goals that the band has for the album. At 40 minutes, By Fire & Brimstone is the perfect length, but it’s unfortunately marred by the dragging “Disillusion” and the sub-par closer “Blestem.” But when the songs are good, they’re very good. “Servants of the Elder Gods,” “Assassins of Carthage,” “Invoking the Master,” “The Scarlet Citadel,” and “Fires of Koth” should please anyone who counts hailing and killing among their hobbies.

I can’t express just how powerful the vocals are here. Petros Leptos is an amazing talent, and when he and the rest of Solitary Sabred are dialed in, their battle hymns deliver power and might to all the warriors of the world. This payload is unfortunately dulled by a couple of clunkers, but the remaining killers render it lethal all the same. If you like what you hear, don’t hesitate to also check out 2014’s Redemption Through Force to witness the band at the top of their game.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: No Remorse Records
Releases Worldwide: March 13th, 2020

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