Reign Of Terror, The - Sacred Ground

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Limb Music
Catalog Number: LMP 0104-028 CD
Format: CD
Total Time: 63:18:00

Reign Of TerrorThe Reign of Terror are a quartet comprised of Joe Stump, Michael Vecera, Jay Rigney and Matt Scurfield. With guitarist Stump known already as a solo artist, vocalist Vecera from his work with Loudness and Malmsteen, and Rigney and Scurfield both members of Event, The Reign Of Terror is, in a way, a supergroup. And while that usually designates a one off, Sacred Ground is the third album from the band. With the exception of "Dante's Danza" this is mainly in-your-face metal. This exception is an acoustic guitar piece from Stump, which puts him more in a league with Al DiMeola ... but as good as Stump is here, it lacks the sense of smoothness and ease which I associate with DiMeola. His solo bit is much more impressive with "Paginini's Purgatory," another tasty slab of classical-metal.

When Reign Of Terror aren't in your face, we get what seems like standard metal. Standard in that all the usual tropes are here, the hallmarks of what puts good metal above average. You know from the outset of "Save Me," which opens the album, that what awaits is going to be a wild metal ride. For Rigney and Scurfield, I find this to be a much warmer release that their own recent Human Condition. Both play at breakneck speed, but leave the melodies to be carried by Vecera and Stump, which seems to be the default for many prog metal bands. Vecera is a terrific vocalist, which he demonstrates throughout; Stump is an impressive guitarist of the classically influenced school. Incidentally, both Stump and Vecera produced the album, and do a really great job. As they also composed all the music, it not really surprising that all the best bits are theirs. I'm sure Rigney and Scurfield had input, of course, as they aren't playing by numbers or merely connecting the dots, but its vocals and guitar that are up front. The press sheet states "it is difficult to pick out any single" song to focus on, and they're right...there's so much good stuff here.

"Still Holding On" goes from slow burn metal to full power mode seamlessly and shows the balance between brutal metal and hard-AOR metal. A track like "The Unknown" is in a classic metal mold, like...well, this could easily be a Scorpion's tune, for example (musically)...something on the order of "No One Like You." This album (or at least the US edition) contains a few bonus tracks plus a cover of Rainbow's "Kill The King." Oddly, while I wouldn't necessarily say Vecera sounds like Dio, there are echoes of Dio in his voice during this track.

One thing I noticed is that there are a couple of spots where the songs end abruptly (at the end of "Paginini's Purgatory" is one such spot). Though perhaps by design, it sounds more like a production error -- a mastering error, I guess. It kinda pops from one track to the other, as vinyl might if nudged just so (or if old and pitted). Whether this exists on the retail version, I don't know. This album was released in April, so if it was a glitch, it might have been corrected by now. You don't lose any music from it, and as quibbles go, this is very minor.

I'm not totally blown away by this to the point of hyperbole, but this is damn good metal. I like it quite a bit and each time I listen to it, I like it a little more. If you like metal, I think this will go down a storm. If you don't, this ain't a bad place to introduce yourself to some of the best the genre has to offer.

By the way, not to be confused with the Death Metal band of the same name (minus the Joe Stump part, of course) -ed.

Also released by SPV USA (41532)

Save Me (5:03) / Sacred Ground (5:20) / The Unknown (6:27) / Paginini's Purgatory (3:03)* / Set Us Free (4:02) / When Will We Know (7:26) / Last Time (5:39) / Undercover (4:56) / Hellbound (4:51) / Dante's Danza* (4:12) / Still Holding On (7:26) / Kill The King (4:25)

Joe Stump - guitars
Michael Vecera - vocals
Jay Rigney - bass
Matt Scurfield - drums

Joe Stump's Reign Of Terror - Light In The Sky (1995)
Joe Stump's Reign Of Terror - The Second Coming (1997)
Sacred Ground (2001)
Conquer And Divide (2003)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: October 13th 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 674
Language: english


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