Sardonyx: Majestic Serenity-1992.

Sardonyx:Proggressive Power Metal from United States.

Discography:

Rebel of ReasonDemo1990 
Majestic SerenityFull-length1992
Majestic SerenityVideo1992 
Linear ProgressionEP2005
Sons of the KingdomFull-length2018

Members:

Chuck TurnerBass
Rod FeltmanGuitars
Tom DenlingerVocals
See also: ex-The Scream of the Guillotine
Bill PagaranDrums (2017-present)

Past Members:

Michael AnthonyDrums
Tim SwarthoutGuitars
Kevin BradleyGuitars (?-1993)
Jeff KingKeyboards
See also: Believer, ex-Fountain of Tears

One thought on “Sardonyx: Majestic Serenity-1992.

  1. US power metal took the biggest fall of all the classic metal genres in the 90’s. It started fading earlier, as a matter of fact, in the late-80’s when many of its practitioners (Nasty Savage, Helstar, Laaz Rockit, Liege Lord, etc.) moved more towards the thrash metal spectre. Stalwarts like Vicious Rumours, Savatage, Mystic Force and Metal Church soldiered on to some pretty positive results, and one-album-wonders like Recon, Axiom, and Lordbane kept the flame burning. Sardonyx belong to the latter category testing the soil with a 4-track demo in 1990 which saw them chasing the classic power metal idea with passion.

    The album reviewed here sounds way more elaborate than the approach witnessed on the demo; the compositions are lengthy, heavy exercises in progressive power metal with a hefty presence of thrash as evident from the dark brooding “Puppet of Beauty” which provides intense volcanic semi-gallops among more intricate arrangements. This larger-than-life composition is superseded by the more immediate semi-headbanger “Paracletos”, but more complexity comes “roaring” with “Corridor to Light”, 8.5-min of mazey, complicated metal ranking with the best from luminaries like Fates Warning, Savatage and even Watchtower, alternating sharp hard passages with deeply meditative quiet ones.

    “Royal Honor” is a dark formidable anthem with doomy overtones and a very strong bass bottom, and “Heavenly Throne” is a galloping speedster the bass shedding pieces of your skin among the dynamic riff-patterns and the excellent soaring clean vocals which here abandon their mean-ish timbre resembling Dave Mustaine (Megadeth). “Ft. Drum” follows suit, an energetic technical instrumental with superb technical rifforamas and a nice memorable main speedy motif. “Holy Avenger” is an epic power metal hymn ala Manilla Road and Warlord with a great chorus and a few more aggressive strokes; and “Call upon the Master” is very similar in spirit to it with more conventional heavy metal undercurrents and another very cool chorus. “Voice of the Prodigal” presses the pedal on the speed, and fiery steel riffs start flying all around the band thrashing with force to produce the most brutal cut here, still a fairly complex meandering piece the impetuous thrashy “excursions” alleviated by atmospheric balladic sections. All the way to “Liar”, a galloping delight with the bass taking quite a bit of space “fighting” with the rigorous thrashy insertions and the melodic progressive build-ups which take over in the second half for a more laid-back epic finale.

    Text-wise the band belong to the Christian metal movement, as some of the song titles have already suggested, but the way they deliver their message isn’t too dogmatic or preachy, so there’s no screaming the name of The Lord in the fans’ face. Music-wise they resemble the leaders of the Christian metal fraternity Tourniquet, but Sardonyx’s approach is more compact and more coherent, and its dark sombre tone also binds it with Sanctuary’s “Into the Mirror Black” and Rage’s “Secrets in a Weird World” including in the more progressive arrangements of those two. It nicely depleted the arsenal of a genre that had already gone underground by that time, and also put the bass player forward as a prominent performer within the power metal realm the way the Sadus albums did for Steve DiGiorgio for the thrash/death metal circuit.

    Alas, that was all the guys were able to produce at this stage. It was some ten years later when the voice of the singer Tom Denlinger was heard again on the one-album-wonder The Scream of the Guillotine (self-titled, 2001), a progressive metal saga which lacked the originality and the swagger of the Sardonyx opus. Then three years later it was Sardonyx’s turn to remind of themselves with the “Linear Progression” EP; however, this 4-tracker was a big disappointment, the total opposite to all possible progressions, very bland trite modern progressive/alternative metal the guys sounding like an entirely different band, in this case for the worse. This effort should have been recorded under the Slave to Right banner, the moniker the guys acquired a few months later, as it threw quite a stain over their reputation. Reportedly under this new guise they released a self-titled demo in 2006, but I never bothered to check it out due to the weak material on the EP.

    The guys seem to have lost their sardonic touch since the beginning of the new millennium, at least when it comes to music. They’ve softened with age, and they may find it not too easy to get back to normal “serenity” let alone “majestic” one. They should by all means give it a try, though; the revitalized music scene of recent years is avidly looking for unrecognized metal voices from the good old days.

    bayern, March 21st, 2017

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