“One Final Sin” has been the first demo of New Jersey’s CHALICE, self-produced and recorded in 1985, distributed the following year as a single-sided cassette. Over the years, it happened to be considered one of the most sought-after recordings of US metal, a holy grail for the collectors. There were only three tracks included in it, “Seven Seas of Rhye”, “Reincarnation” and “Egypt”; together with “Touch The Sky”, a song that was written in the earlier days when the band was named SACRIFICE, and “Burn You At The Stake”, the title track of their second and final demo as CHALICE, are all of the band’s studio recordings. That’s it – five songs! So, are they THAT good to stand the test of time and finally emerge from the depths of Lethe and be officially released after so many years fallen into obscurity?
The answer is a big, loud, resounding YES!
You may have seen too many times the promos of various, small labels boasting about unearthing yet another hidden gem of the vast heavy metal treasure that has been lost with the passing of time. There are entire catalogues full of such releases and we should be really grateful to everyone working for such cause. Otherwise, we would have only listened to the moneymakers that the big companies choose to invest in, often based on reasons way far from the objective quality or the real essence of the music.
However, I must admit being very skeptical when it comes to such releases. Reissues of poorly produced albums lost into oblivion or first official editions of decades-old demos and obscure private rarities of times long passed can be very tricky. No, I’m no modernist. On the contrary, I relish the past, because that’s exactly where the mystery and the magic, the true values and the genuine ideas of heavy metal were born and can always be found; there, steel will always reign supreme, keeping its reputation untarnished, unaffected by any trendy and mainstream influence. To support the fresh and originally innovating ideas is one thing, to accept any cheap mannerism or dubious attempt in the name of some pseudo-creative compulsion is something else entirely.
To put it bluntly, I would sacrifice tons of nowadays super-polished releases for only a handful of old-time raw, honest albums. Why? Because back then, in the 80’s and 90’s, I can find much more AUTHENTIC, FREE-SPIRITED and BOLD artistic expression than in the last twenty years. There are albums of the past, especially some without large acknowledgement, that are manifestos of METAL BELIEF, timeless emblems of our beloved music genre. How and why did this happen? Because the bands dared to bring out works that actually made artistic statements of the truest form; born merely out of passion, meant only for the ones who share it. No compromising, no faking, no holding back – they just chased their dreams! NO MATTER WHAT! That’s not easily encountered anymore. Not at all. On the contrary, there’s a whole vintage/old-school revival that sometimes ends up frustrating. Why bother to buy something like that when I can buy CHALICE and their original recordings, for instance? Let’s face it! Metal had a heyday back in those days, bands making history firsthand, exploring new boundaries all along, while at present, although the genre remains quite popular, many companies and groups prefer to reap the fruits of the past success, resting assured on their oars.
So, yes, I hold the deepest respect for the underground metal community. Without labels committed to support uncompromising bands, dedicated to bring to light albums long lost in the mists of time, absolutely impossible to be found otherwise, our collections would be much poorer; quality over quantity, that’s what I’m talking about.
Nonetheless, I must repeat myself: when a reissue of the obscure is released, I demand it to be carefully treated and properly remastered. If old steel should be once more wielded, then please, sharpen it ‘till it can slash to the bone!
Thankfully, Lost Realm had the tracks of “One Final Sin” extracted from the original tapes and remastered for vinyl, so that they can be heard as deserved. It has also been a CD edition of CHALICE’s recordings in the past via Stormspell but this is the first time that they are released on vinyl. This new reissue comprises a total of seven songs; all five studio recordings and two more live ones, “The Chapel” and “Temptation”, taken from a New Years Eve party of 1986.
The members of CHALICE that recorded the band’s first demo were Fred Teschke (bass), Brian “Thane” Chaffee (drums), Gregg Zubowicz (guitars and piano) and Mike Dworkin (vocals). In the pre-CHALICE recording of “Touch The Sky” it was Tony Rohal on bass and Jim Jefferies on drums while Ron Blechman played the keyboards. Finally, in the second demo and the live recordings, Bob Pantella took the place behind the drums and Darren Larsen sang.
To start from the beginning, “Seven Seas of Rhye”, “Reincarnation” and “Egypt” are absolutely amazing songs, a flawless, jaw-dropping display of old-school unparalleled heavy metal sound, offering fifteen minutes of PURE US METAL PERFECTION! The piano intro of “Seven Seas of Rhye” is almost scary, a haunting opening before a thunderous storm of riffs burst out! The structure of the songs, all breaks and choruses, slow and fast parts, the guitar work and the gutty rhythm section are insanely good – on top of that, Dworkin’s voice makes the REAL difference! Well, you simply cannot ignore neither underestimate THIS KIND OF METAL – and its age doesn’t matter at all, because it is ETERNAL!
Any doubts of why a pre-CHALICE song was added in the tracklist will be UTTERLY disappear listening to it. I really have no words for the EPIC power-ballad called “Touch The Sky” – is DEVINE good enough?
Last but not least, there’s “Burn You At The Stake”, a song to showcase Larsen’s style of singing and a rather different musical aspect of the band. I did like it but there’s no comparison with the previous ones.
I’ll leave the almost bootleg material of live recordings without many comments – they seem like fillers but they are not; they are not the ones that will be stuck in your head either.
You may now be wondering why such a lengthy text for basically a few old songs? For no other reason than making justice to CHALICE; because they definitely deserve it! Their masterful songwriting, full of stunning riffs and remarkable exchange of tones and melodies, together with the breathtaking vocal performance of Mike Dworkin are examples of the finest metalwork you’ll ever hear.
So, pay attention, US metal afficionados and all fans of WARLORD, TYRANT, OMEN, MEDIEVAL STEEL, ATTACKER, GRIFFIN, STORMTROOPER and SAVATAGE of the early era! This is a very limited edition and as I’m writing these words the red vinyls of “One Final Sin” have already been sold-out. So, be quick or the chalice will be emptied and leave your soul thirsty for all eternity!
Check the discussion about the album in our forum pages.