|Saracen Vox In Excelso||Escape Music|
Saracen has been doing their thing for some 25 years now. At this point the only original members are vocalist Steve Bettney and guitarist Rob Bendelow, but ask just about anyone and they would say the signature guitar and vocal sound are the most important ingredients to any band.|
This British melodic, symphonic hard rock band has a style of their own and a certain unique way of doing things and I must confess to not being pulled in on previous occasions.
For someone not sold on a particular band, what harder a prospect could there be than be faced with reviewing a 73 minute concept album about the history of the Knights Templar?!
To my surprise, this was easier than I anticipated. That is because Vox In Excelso is a very fine record indeed and one, despite it's subject matter, is far more accessible than you might think. The sound quality is also excellent. The album is tightly performed and well recorded, with a powerful sound and clear mix.
The lead vocals of Bettney are both authorative and graceful and help drive the melodies home.
What I don't like is the female narrative every song or two, important in one sense to help convey the complex and lengthy story line, but annoying at times also.
The music here is dominated by guitar and those strong vocals, but there is also a boat load of swirling keyboards and a lot of additional texturing, such as haunting backing vocals, dark and moody acoustic effects and an instrumental or two.
The album has been very well put together and as concept albums should, flows easily from start to finish.
Symphonic rock fans get their bit (Where Was Their God, Priory Of Zion), hard rock fans get plenty to chew on (Meet Me At Midnight, The Order) and fans of epics get the 9 minute Mary to dissect.
The first 1000 albums will be available in special edition booklet format, rather than the conventional jewel case presentation, which will make for a nice complete package to deliver the story in.
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