If you’re familiar at all with Sacred Leather of Indianapolis, it’s likely due to lead vocalist Dee Wrathchild, better known in the metal world as drummer Dustin Boltjes of Skeletonwitch and Demiricous. In a way similar to multi-instrumentalist journeyman Snowy Shaw, he proves to be just as talented at classic metal howling as he is at extreme metal timekeeping. Influences ranging from Halford to Tate are abound as a wide range and charisma are consistently boasted.
But even looking past their vocalist, Sacred Leather’s debut album is deeply rooted in 80s traditions handed down by Judas Priest, Grim Reaper, and Savatage among others. The guitar riffs are choppy yet precise, the drums allow some power metal rhythms to come through, and the production job has more reverb than your typical revivalist outfit. The performances and presentations are incredibly over the top but thankfully you won’t find any piss takes or parody elements on here. It’s not super serious stuff, but it’s clearly done out of loving passion for the genre.
This love is further reflected in the songwriting as many a classic metal trope are recreated over Ultimate Force’s seven tracks. As expected, most songs such as “Power Thrust” and “Prowling Sinner” aim for an upbeat execution complete with tight gallops, wailing lead vocals and some testosterone-friendly backing shouts. Thankfully, there are some neat outliers such as the nine minute closer “The Lost Destructor/Priest of the Undoer” and “Dream Searcher,” the latter of which is an honest to god power ballad. It’s quite a rarity to see a ballad performed in this over the top style, especially one with such a degree of sincerity.
Overall, Sacred Leather may still need to fine tune their songwriting to reach the pantheon of traditional metal, but their charismatic performances and authentic production style will endear them to fans of the genre. Much like the recent successes of Cauldron and Satan’s Hallow, it’s nice to see a band be able to emulate a somewhat antiquated style without any of that modern cynicism getting in the way. It’s a great soundtrack to any metal party, especially if it’s accompanied by a muted retro horror flick.
“Master is Calling”
“The Lost Destructor/Priest of the Undoer”