Mastered and partially restored by Patrick W. Engel at TEMPLE OF DISHARMONY, February - March 2016
Legendary US Metal band Warlord was formed in 1981 by Mark Zonder and William J. Tsamis. One year later, in 1982, the song “Lucifer’s Hammer” (based on a novel by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle) appeared on the prestigious compilation album »Metal Massacre II«. This resulted in a deal with Metal Blade Records, with Warlord recording their debut mini-album. »Deliver Us« was released in 1983 and is today considered as the blueprint for what was later to be called “Epic Metal”.
»Deliver Us« was followed by »And The Cannons Of Destruction Have Begun...« in 1984 and the comeback album »Rising Out Of The Ashes« in 2002.
»The Holy Empire« is the band’s most current studio album, it was issued not that long ago in 2013 (on CD). Now is the first time that the album will be released on vinyl with four sides of extra tracks.
“I think this is a very good record,” states founding member Mark Zonder when asked about »The Holy Empire«. “I think it shows a lot of growth from the band. It is Warlord but going in a bit more of a longer song style format. The current reissues are great and really give the fan a full view of the band. Giles Lavery did a great job gathering a lot of old material as well as a lot of printed material that have never been released. »The Holy Empire« is not a concept record but Warlord albums always have a common musical theme and direction. This can be seen from the beginning with »Deliver Us«. Not a concept but a very organized musical and lyrical direction.“
A lot of people have remarked that »The Holy Empire« relates more to Lordian Guard than classic Warlord, would that be a fair thing to say? “This is completely false,” states Mark Zonder, “as most fans do not realize that a lot of these songs were done back in the early days as demos for Warlord. So we had worked them up along time ago. But when the band disbanded and Bill was doing Lordian Guard, he recorded them as they were his songs. When we got back together as Warlord, we decided it was a good idea to record some of these as Warlord as they had never been recorded properly with the pure power that Warlord delivers. It also shows that Bill’s songs can be interpreted in various ways.”
Bill Tsamis and Mark Zonder are the core of Warlord, so in this sense »The Holy Empire« is a classic Warlord album indeed... “Warlord is Bill and I,” confirms Mark Zonder. “We have great musicians that we use live and are very grateful to these guys. On the recording Philip Bynoe was the only additional musician to play. With Bill and I being Warlord, it keeps the consistency of the Warlord sound in tact.”
Tsamis and Zonder chose to re-record three classic Warlord tracks: “Thy Kingdom Come“, ”City Walls Of Troy“ and ”Father“... why that?
Mark Zonder: “Most of these songs were done as Warlord songs first. We were playing ‘Thor’ and ‘City Walls’ way back in the very very early days along with many of the others. Just wanted to make sure the fans got a high quality recording. Also we thought these were great songs, as mentioned before.”
“It was a self-released album,” says Mark Zonder when asked about the reception of »The Holy Empire«, “so it did not get wide distribution and those did not really reach the masses. The songs from this album that we play live go over great and people seem to know them. But the record was not promoted properly. The music business lately is very difficult.”
The singer on the album is Rick Anderson. Where did Warlord find him and how did they like the job he did on the album? “We had found Rick toward the end of the Warlord days before the band disbanded,” explains the drummer. “I think he did a good job and more importantly worked very well with Bill as he took direction and this is very important with Bill as he has exact ideas of that he wants the vocals to be. Bill looks at the vocals as just another instrument and knows exactly was he wants. Bill writes all of the lyrics and melody lines.
So what happened to Joacim Cans, was he just a session member of Warlord after all...? “We all love Joacim,” reveals Mark Zonder. “He is the Warlord singer. He is just to busy with Hammerfall and did not have the time to commit. He did an amazing job on »Rising«. Without a doubt to me the perfect Warlord singer, both in the studio and live. Great guy and great performer-musician.”
Bill’s lyrics always related to Christianity in one way or another, how would Mark Zonder describe the lyrics on »The Holy Empire«? “You could say they relate to Christianity but on a larger scale they relate to the world and to everyone on a mass scale. I really like the way he touches on the religious themes but does not go overboard and try and ram them down your throat. Very smart and clever lyric writer.”
A lot of fans say that ”70,000 Sorrows“ is the song they like most on the album and Mark Zonder agrees: “I love that song and we play it live, but ‘Night Of The Fury’ to me is classic Warlord as well. Love the power and the groove. Bill is great at writing songs that do not sound like each other. Name two Warlord songs that even remotely sound alike? As compared to some bands that record entire albums that sound like one song just speeded up and slowed down. This is one of the many secrets to Warlord, the songs … all different and special. Creating different moods and feels.”