Imagine owning a chest full of treasures from an era long gone. But someday, you open that chest and discover a new treasure that is, oddly enough, from that bygone time. That is exactly the case with “The Holy Empire” that marks the long anticipated and triumphant return of Warlord, 11 years after their last full length album “Rising Out Of The Ashes”.

Warlord’s leader and main songwriter, Bill Tsamis (guitars), has not only managed to keep the band’s distinctive metal sound intact, yet he has also accomplished merging it with the sound of his –during the 90’s Warlord hiatus- project, Lordian Guard, whose sound is far more melodic. The presence of that melodic twist is felt on almost every song in the album, such as the opener “70,000 sorrows”, a marvelous song that also incorporates elements of traditional Greek music (Bill Tsamis originates from Greece after all). Following up is the track “Glory”, an instant classic that captures the listener’s attention from the very first second, with its magical riff and refrain that is going to take more time than you initially may think to get it out of your head. “City walls of Troy” though, is a gloomy, doom-like song, with a characteristic mid eastern melody that sounds like a tribute to Rainbow’s Gates of Babylon. A change much welcome to the listener’s ears at that point of the album.

Alongside the beautiful melodies, what is heard on almost every track is the use of choral parts and/or female backing vocals that bond astonishingly with Rick Anderson’s powerful vocal performance and provide the sensation of a litany or a Christian liturgy. After all, most of the lyrics in “The Holy Empire” concern the Christian faith and the epic sensation this album creates derives from Tsamis’s effort to simulate the feeling of religious devoutness through his music. However, where the lyrics might become a downside are the songs “Killzone”, “Holy Empire”’s most mediocre track and “Night Of The Fury”. They both deal, in a rather passionate way too, with Iraqi terrorist hunting by the U.S forces, a theme that may be offensive to some. Yet, epic riffs like these used in “Night Of The Fury” are not written every day. It is definitely one of Warlord’s best songs. The “Holy Empire” reaches its peak with the title track which is also the final track. It is the song with the longest duration in Warlord’s discography, 11 and a half minutes of utterly majestic guitar work, an absolution, a cathartic experience.

We shouldn’t finish without a reference to Mark Zonder’s faultless drum work. Bringing the progressive touch from Fates Warning he delivers an astounding performance that blends with Bill Tsamis’s guitar work into almost perfection. For what is worth, Warlord may not have been consistent with their releases over the years, but they never let their fans down. And “The Holy Empire” is a proud continuation of Warlord’s legacy, balancing swiftly between pure 80’s heavy metal and sweet lyricism, a gem to every album collection.

Track List Line Up
01. 70,00 Sorrows
02. Glory
03. Thy Kingdom Come
04. City Walls Of Troy
05. Killzone
06. Night Of The Fury
07. Father
08. The Holy Empire
William J Tsamis – Guitars
Mark Zonder – Drums
Philip Bynoe – Bass
Richard M. Anderson – Vocals