On the tray card of Sacred 13 debut CD Jagged Regrets there's a Photoshopped image of a Jack Daniels bottle to read 'Sacred 13 Quality Pennsylvania Metal.' Being a native PA resident myself, it's good to introduce fellow heavy metal denizens. A quick Google of reviews shows that this crew is getting some respectable reviews. Certainly, Jagged Regrets is a solid effort from this upstart crew from Erie, yet questions arise.
The overall 'feel' of Jagged Regrets is modern heavy metal and, at times, hard rock with a nuanced, or possibly confused, references to hardcore harshness. Within a single song, like Secrets or Wash Away the Pain, Sacred 13 seems indeterminate to their sound. It's heavy then coarse, melodic then dark, in a mere four minutes. Some of this comes from Josh Karickhoff's ambiguous vocal style: he see-saws between grunge teenage angst and simple anger. Mostly, even on the sublime Tomorrow, he sounds like he's either quite pissed or somebody put his nuts in a vice. Fortunately his gruff whiskey-spitting vocals are melodic growling. It fits. After all, Karickhoff could simply be a very angry man.
On the sonic side, Sacred 13 appears to pick up on Pantera's turn to harshness on Vulgar Display of Power, but injects some essential rock hooks as on I Don't Care. Despite it's nearly current hardcore harshness, Jagged Regrets has an infectious entertaining quality to it. One thing that enlivens the mix is the ripping guitar work throughout, something sometimes uncommon among their peers. It's nearly old school neo-classical shredding, and possibly the best element of Sacred 13's repertoire. But, generally, Jagged Regrets is overwhelmed by the harsh heaviness that permeates this work.
But Jagged Regrets is also hampered by the production and mix which sounds like it was recorded in a serial killer's basement. Then there's Sacred 13 simply being strange, and wholly ridiculous, with their cover of The Beatles' I Am the Walrus. (Although the guitar solo kicks serious ass.) Then there's those intermittent keyboard sequences that begin several songs. What's up with that. But as I Don't Care suggests, I do what I want, I do it my way, and I get what I need, Karickhoff and cohort Gus Ward are doing a Sinatra on Jagged Regrets.
In the end, I'm not quite sure what to conclude about my fellow Pennsylvanian's Sacred 13 and their Jagged Regrets. I'm equally entertained and ambivalent, intrigued but hoping for better. With their feet planted firmly in traditional heavy metal and current modern hardcore metal trends, Sacred 13's Jagged Regrets should find a receptive audience. Recommended.