Sacred Leather – Ultimate Force (Cruz Del Sur Music)Monday, 26th February 2018
Entry points for the metal genre essentially form the foundation of our context and lexicon. Whether friends, family, or random circumstance introduce you to the power and aggression of the music, most become hooked and feel the euphoria of discovering the vast choices at one’s disposal. That’s where the classic, traditional affinity started for this scribe in the early to mid-1980’s – and acts like Sacred Leather keep pumping oxygen into that lifeline through albums like Ultimate Force. This Indiana act features Skeletonwitch drummer Dustin Boltjes – transforming his persona as Dee Wrathchild the vocalist in this incarnation – and over the course of four years the quintet has released singles, a live album a split with Kvlthammer and a cassette EP to set the stage for this seven-song outing.
Everything about this record screams for vengeance with synchronized twin guitar moves, steady/pounding rhythm section maneuvers plus higher register melodies that dig deep into the rabbit hole of premiere singers/screamers. Some would probably make comparisons to the likes of Enforcer or Night Demon on the more recent scale for the new breed, but for my money songs like “Power Thrust” and “Prowling Sinner” possess that Judas Priest on a Northwest slant charm – when bands like Q5, Wild Dogs (circa Reign of Terror), and Culprit thrust upon the scene. JJ Highway and Carlos Blitz provide axe acrobatics that encourage audience simulations, divebombing with the best in the business right away for the opening title cut salvo while delivering tasteful riffs and harmony twists during the epic “The Lost Destructor/ Priest of the Undoer” at 9:31. Dee is the shining beacon for Sacred Leather – living for that upper note, piercing melody, sustaining in mountain top power just like Michael Furlong (Wild Dogs) or early Heir Apparent, evident especially during the closing, emotional ballad “Dream Searcher”.
Many may scoff at the analog-oriented production and old school tone choices (the guitars certainly promote a 1982-1984 feel), but Sacred Leather pull this off with sincerity and brilliant execution. Nostalgia cannot be recreated, but Ultimate Force should stir up those 80’s flames and hopefully gain a decent number of followers young and old to the flock.