With a triumphant roar and a soaring riff, Sacred Leather’s Ultimate Force sprints out of a wormhole from 1983. The Indianapolis quintet—clad in leather and spikes—embodies the ideal blend of classic thrash and heavy metal. 1983 was a big year for metal and rock—Slayer and Metallica introduced themselves with Show No Mercy and Kill ‘Em All, respectively, Dio released Holy Diver and Mercyful Fate came out with Melissa—and Sacred Leather’s throwback of a full-length debut tends to err more towards the latter. Even more so at times, it pushes into a realm of successful radio talents like Kiss or Dokken—who also had great albums come out in 1983.
The opening title track shows off guitarists JJ Highway and Carloff Blitz’s fiery licks during the band’s most outright thrash moment, and many of heavy and power metal’s early tropes find their way into the album’s other tunes.. On the album’s fourth song, “Dream Searcher,” the group shifts gears into a forceful power balled. Vocalist Dee Wrathchild harnesses a hybrid voice that is equal parts Paul Stanley, Biff Byford, and Don Dokken. On this track in particular, his voice becomes a powerful instrument to drive home the heartbreak of losing a loved one that he can now only see in his dreams. Meanwhile, “Prowling Sinner” is Saxon incarnate.
As howler Wrathchild comments, ““Since the incarnation of Sacred Leather, it has been this band’s mission to return the true essence of heavy metal to the masses, and Ultimate Force is a our testament. Crank it up, and bang your fucking heads, you maniacs!”
Sacred Leather’s blast from the past offers a lot for the hungry heavy metal fan yearning for something that satisfies a vintage appetite. Its seven tracks present an enthralling spread of what made heavy metal so exciting a quarter of a century ago. Holistically speaking, Ultimate Force is an early marker for a band that could be poised for a future as big as their sound.
Listen below, and snag this bad motherfucker from Cruz Del Sur Music come February 23.
Cody Davis is barking at the moon on Twitter.