Heavy accent on melody while adding plenty of thunder
Sometimes I think the US did NWOBHM better than the English bands themselves. A perfect example of my theory would be Hawaii's Sacred Rite, a young band of teenagers who got together under the influence of English acts like Saxon, Priest, and Maiden, with a heavy accent on melody while adding plenty of thunder to please even the heaviest of listeners.
In 1980, a young group of kids got together with a common love for European metal. The band started out performing covers of UFO, Priest, and Scorpions. Jimmy Caterine, Kevin Lum, Mark Kaleiwahea, and Pete Crane combined to form the band Sabre. They entered the studio and recorded the band's debut, the self-titled masterpiece "Sacred Rite". When the album was finished, Sabre changed their name to Sacred Rite.
Recorded in Rendevous Studios, who offered the band a "bargain" recording on only 8 tracks of tape, Sacred Rite featured seven prime cuts of American new wave. With the lethal combination of Jimmy Caterine and Mark Kaleiwahea in charge of the six strings, Sacred Rite found themselves charged-up with European gallops and Maiden styled melody. With Pete Crane's visions of Steve Harris basslines, and Kaleiwahea's soaring vocal stance, the band found themselves in the midst of a stellar debut record.
The album blasts off with "Wings Of Pegazus", arguably the best song of their catalogue. With a Maiden flavored dish, the band chops down hard with plenty of blazing leads and twin guitar ramblings. Vocalist Kaleiwahea never strays far from his mid-range, always staying crystal clear and up front with his listeners. The opener has a constant melodic flow that is really hard to pass up. Everytime I pull this album out its actually hard for me to get past the first track simply because it is so catchy and easy on the ears. But there is plenty more to like on this album.
"Angels Never Die" slows things down a notch, reminding me of early stuff like UFO and Deep Purple, with a huge lead mid-way through. Caterine and Kaleiwahea do a fantastic job with the guitars here, almost going spacey at times, but never going too far out of reach. "White Boy" follows with a more mainstream influence, with the band admitting that "White Boy" was inspired by a friend who really dug disco. It clearly shows as this song is different than the other material found on the album.
"Executioner" and "The Blade" are both metallic monsters, frenzied cuts that conjure up images of Tipton and Downing. Drummer Kevin Lum really shows off behind the kit here, showing a great deal of patience in his youth. "R.I.P" is a great ballad, with a touch of keys for atmosphere. The album ends with "Revelation", a tight number that continues the same vibe as "Executioner" and "The Blade".
The record came out in a limited quanity of 100. The original artwork just featured a white jacket with the Sacred Rite logo placed in the middle. The band picked up a deal with Axe Killer Records, and the album was released once again, this time with artwork that was inspired by the lyrics of "Wings Of Pegazus". The band never gave their consent for the album cover change, and was disapointed with the new artwork.
Nevertheless, Sacred Rite is one helluva metal record. Carrying on the tradition of Dianno fronted Maiden, and using all the elements that made new wave attractive in the first place, Sacred Rite went into the studio and created something truly special. The band managed to release two more albums before splitting. They never recaptured the same magic that made the debut so effective however.