RETRO TUESDAYS: Lordian Guard – Lordian Guard (1995)

The seven trumpets, seven natural disaster themed horrors described in the strange fables of the Book of Revelation (CE 81–96), that end the Christian bible are perhaps the most thrilling descriptions of destruction available to the Roman Empire up to that point. Blood oceans, poisoned rivers, and torturous scorpion-tailed centaurs with lion’s teeth all made for fine horror and revenge for the supposed banishment of ‘John’ to the Greek isle of Patmos by then emperor Domitian. Wherever the traditions of the oft mangled and re-scripted New Testament are lies aren’t important. The apocalypse as envisioned is an incredible piece of visual storytelling and perhaps the most influential piece of writing that would ensure the self-extinction of mankind would be accelerated dramatically during the holocene era. What appeared as the end of Warlord after struggling for years to find a consistent vocalist found talented multi-instrumentalist William Tsamis moving to Florida, finding Christianity, and founding Lordian Winds around 1986. This project came as accompaniment to the development of My Name is Man, a Christian apocalypse themed film by Tsamis that would never come to fruition due to lack of outside interest.

The songwriting talents inherent to the development of Warlord as epic heavy metal legend still persisted within Lordian Winds. The mixture of folkish acoustic guitars, shredding epic heavy metal leads, and arabesque cinematic arrangements were initially developed as ideas for a second Warlord album and as soundtrack concepts for My Name Is Man (the album). The pitch for either Lordian Guard album is a delicate subject to approach because for many reactive metal listeners the only possible selling points come from the presence and mastermind of Tsamis, a true legend of the United States development of power metal and epic heavy metal style in the early 80’s. What barriers to entry are so prominent that I need a disclaimer? Tsamis performs all instruments on the recording and chose to use a drum machine for ‘Lordian Guard’. The lyrics are incredibly pious approaches to the Christian vision of the apocalypse that is oddly interspersed with the themes of My Name is Man, which was an elaborate take on John Milton’s epic Paradise Lost. So, epic Christian symphonic heavy metal with a bad drum machine and female vocals? Why am I even writing about this? It is better than you might think and anything by Tsamis is worthy of an epic heavy metal fan’s time.

If you search out the Lordian Winds demos, which are also available on the anthology release for the band circa 2013, the most striking performance of those tapes came in the form of Tsamis‘ wife Vidonne Sayre-Riemenschneider (RIP) who provided vocals for the project. As a vocalist she did not wail but rather had a sort of narrative, folk rock approach with a timbre somewhere between classic Stevie Nicks and and the cadence of Mark Shelton ballad. As much as Tsamis‘ guitar work makes the experience palatable, Sayre-Riemenschneider’s sweeping vocal harmonies lent a professional and uniquely folkish flair to the album. At least to the point that you’ll be able to forgive the awful drum machine. Of course this type of thing wasn’t conceptually without compare in the mid-90’s but largely within hidden power metal scenes. In terms of mood and cadence Longings Past came close to this sound but were far more driven by 80’s heavy metal riffing rather than the folkish prog rock structures of Lordian Guard.

As disturbing as I find Christian themes in general (“In Peace He Comes Again” is literally a Christmas song…) there is some value in Lordian Guard for both Warlord fandom as well as folks who wish to explore the life of epic heavy metal within the 90’s as many of the late 70’s/early 80’s pioneers faded away quietly. Don’t come in expecting a true follow-up to ‘And the Cannons of Destruction Have Begun…’ but rather a ‘best of’ from a decade of working on an opus that was never realized. Though this project would eventually peter out leaving an unreleased third album in the dirt, Warlord would return (and then subsequently dissolve, then return again a decade later) and pick up on some of the ideas developed within Lordian Guard. Though there are many caveats to be made for the album’s themes and sound quality issues it is still a worthy enough piece of epic heavy metal history for the dedicated fan.

Artist Lordian Guard
Type Album
Released December 1995
LISTEN on YouTube! Follow Lordian Guard on Facebook
Genre Epic Heavy Metal

Celestial spheres of solar fire. 3.0/5.0

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