I wonder if Chicago's Sacred Dawn doesn't feel just a little out of place in the American metal scene. There is nothing 'new school' about them or their sophomore release A Madness Within, excepting the cover (perfect for the times) and a few songs (more about this in a moment).
This is classic (North) American heavy metal invoking Eighties origins and the same glory, maybe a touch of the UK's New Wave of British Heavy Metal and some progressive metal nuances. So, you can hear a broad range of influences: from Queensryche and Fate's Warning to Savatage and Iron Maiden. There's immense talent here, and some very satisfying heavy metal.
But you might be thrown into a conundrum at the start. The opening piece, The Untold Story, is a brooding, nearly sluggish, piece that hardly invites you into the rest of the album. What You Did to Me follows and mostly invokes old school heavy rock. But things get old school cool with the A Madness Within, the prog character of Summer of Treason, and It Shall Be. These songs and later The Decision and the epic Dawn of the Day display the significant talent of Sacred Dawn: they know their craft and chosen genre, and execute with entertaining delight.
Possibly the only flaw here is when Sacred Dawn succumbs to those 'new school' trends by adding death/hardcore vocals to their songs. On Demonlover and Delirium they're both annoying and unnecessary; they add nothing to the flavor of the song. Yet, they're a bit better, but not by much, on Wrongfully Accused as they are only for accent. Frankly, Sacred Dawn should give them up as it does not dignify theire music.
In the end, Sacred Dawn's A Madness Within is premier American heavy metal. Call it 'old school' if you wish, but between the exceptional musical talent and excellent songs, A Madness Within beats up most modern offerings. Very recommended!
In the end, Sacred Dawn's A Madness Within is premier American heavy metal. Call it 'old school' if you wish, but between the exceptional musical talent and excellent songs, A Madness Within beats up most modern offerings.