Sarissa has been around since the mid-80's, but they haven't been the most productive of bands. Always held back for different reasons, be it the military obligation of the guys, problems with their labels, or the instability of the lineup, they released their last album in 1994 and sort of broke up.
Now, ten years later, they're back, as a trio. Whether Masters of Sins, however, is a fully band effort is questionable, as it seems Jim Selalmazidis tackles the guitar, bass, back vocals, keys, and programming duties, with Nick Iglezoz doing the lead vocals and Bill Kanakis on drums. Sarissa's songs all seem mostly riff-based, midtempo power metal tunes, injected with a good dose of heaviness in the mix, a fairly impressive vocal style, and the never-ending presence of a full bass rhythm. Selalmazidis has even centred some of the tracks entirely around the bass, with symphonic keyboard textures also heard aplenty. The guitars are used to play syncopated riffs and thicken the bass work, along with the drums, albeit a tad clinical sounding for my tastes. As a matter of fact, until I opened and checked the booklet, I thought it was a drum machine, as some of the beats seem quite programmed and lifeless, adding a modern vibe to album. "Bleed" and "To These Powers" both seem like militaristic tunes, especially in the way the rhythm guitars work alongside washes of symphonic keyboards. The solos on both songs are smooth and well played, as is Iglezos singing. He mostly does the album justice, except when he tries to go too high on the first song, which results in a female vocalist singing falsetto.
The usage of sound effects slightly detract from the old-school number "Ancient Land Falls", a song performed entirely on bass with only sparse guitar notes splattered around it. However, a nice guitar solo comes to the rescue, featuring a welcome Greek motif that is immediately catchy. The title track addresses war, religion, and death in the name of God, with a coterminous guitar theme and a fantastic lead solo, perhaps the best on the album. Track six, "Nemesis", is the first attempt on the band's part to break the routine of the track, which is entirely bass-riff driven midtempo power metal with a relatively more aggressive style than most Euro power metal bands. This song is filled with beautiful acoustic guitar interspliced with occasional distorted rhythms and a big chorus that would make for a killer live song. The rest of the album continues as it started - guitar and bass cadences immerse the listener before being reduced for an effective vocal performance and an obligatory solo. "Hypocrisy Crusade" wraps things up, kicking in with a mid-era Therion feel, made up of dual vocal tracks, some of which fearlessy delve into growlish back-ups, but the song quickly returns to the Sarissa feel sticking to the rules.
This is an impressive comeback album. Hopefully their new one will have better production and more involvement from other band members during the creative process. Maybe Selalmazidis could enlist the services of another guitar and keyboard player, and focus more on the bass. Who knows, it could result in a more diverse album.
- To These Powers
- Ancient Land Falls
- Masters of Sins
- Envious Critics
- Hypocrisy Crusade