Appearances can be deceiving. Two bands embarking on their third album, released on the same day, on the same label with the same artists artwork, from the same part of Europe…and reviewed at the same time by yours truly – I was initially rather worried that it was going to look like I had basically just re-worded my Dexter Ward review for Solitary Sabred – but nothing of the sort! Solitary Sabred are a totally different Metal beast…and besides, they’re from Cyprus, not Greece! And they’re influences lie a little further across the Atlantic rather than the Mediterranean.

If I were to say Sanctuary, Helstar, Deadly Blessing, Crimson Glory, Vicious Rumors and Jag Panzer there can be no doubt that we are delving into American Power/Speed Metal territory here, and vocalist Petros Leptos has all the theatricality, dexterity, range and power to do the job! But the music has to back this up, and it does this emphatically giving birth to an album so evocative of its influences that at times it’s only the full, modern production that makes you think it isn’t from the era of its contemporaries. It’s rare to hear an album hit its mark so decisively, but Solitary Sabred manage this whilst delivering it in a way that will also appeal to modern Epic Metal and Power Metal fans alike.

The music is heavy, technical and diverse enough for Leptos to absolutely let fly on the vocal front, which he does at every fabulous opportunity, but as was the case with the better albums of the day, there is generally a Maiden-esque hook, or Midnight-like chorus to grab onto while the rest of the album fits in around. “By Fire and Brimstone” gradually unveils itself, with every musician bringing something to the table. OK, Leptos shines throughout the album and becomes a focal point on initial listens, but as Deadly Blessing proved at times back in the day, a great vocalist can be left wanting if the songs aren’t there to work your magic around. Happily, this isn’t the case with Solitary Sabred, as this is both a great album from a distant time, as well as being a great album within it’s time…if you see what I mean.

(8/10 Andy Barker)