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Saeko - Holy Are We Alone Award winner

Holy Are We Alone
by Kevin Lewis at 20 September 2021, 7:41 AM

SAEKO is a band made up of musicians from around the world, coming together to make a record that has truly international influence and reach. The lyricist and primary vocalist is Japanese, and the musicians are mostly German and Italian, creating an exotic blend of tones and sounds. Eight of the ten songs have a location listed in the title. Holy Are We Alone was released on August 20, 2021, via Pride & Glory Records.

The record opens and closes with short songs that use spoken word over sung vocals. Both are gentle, mellow songs that set a mood. “Circle Of Life” starts with gentle piano and a heartbeat, creating hope and anticipation. The ethereal undertones and simple guitar use help set the mood. “Holy Are We Alone” closes the record out. Here, the heartbeat fades out and the guitar almost seems to serenade us to the afterlife. This really makes it feel like the album has been truly finished.

Track two is “Japan: In My Dream.” The opening is traditional music from Japan, though that quickly gives way to a powerful guitar riff. The guitars drop out and the bass/percussion fill the space. There are Japanese lyrics used in the song and the vocals give a lot of texture to the song. Saeko has a tremendous range and really good control of her instrument. She can drop into lower ranges or soar in full belting mode. She adds grit and vibrato as she pleases to fit the song.

The next track is “Syria: Music, My Love,” and it has an Arabic flair in the intro that again leads to a crushing guitar riff and a really nice, complex rhythm. There are serious elements of power and symphonic metal here, all while retaining the Arabic tones. There are some amazing compositions on this record. The little Arabic guitar fills add a ton of character to this song, making it that much better.

UK: Never Say Never” starts with some almost nautical tones using what sounds like a tin whistle. The song is lighter in tone and slower in tempo than the previous two, but still a powerhouse. Then we head for mainland Europe. “Germany: Rebellion Mission” gives us a glimpse at more of the power metal this band can accomplish. The vocals go operatic, taking us back in history to provide even more German influence. This is impressive on so many levels.

India: Farewell to You I (From Father to Son)” has, you guessed it, an Indian theme to the intro. The guitars are absolutely fantastic on this song. As much as I liked how they sounded on Syria, this is better. That riff just makes me want to move, headbang. This is my favorite riff of the record. “Brazil: Splinters of The Sun” doesn’t have the South American feel I thought it would in the intro, but I still hear the influence in the overall song.

Hawaii (USA): Farewell to You II (From Mother to Daughter)” opens with sounds from a beach and a gentle piano playing before a guitar moves in and some ethereal vocalization hit you. The song is light and airy at the start and never gets heavy. It’s like going to Hawaii gives you a break from some of the chaos. “Russia: Heroes” opens with a quick military marching drum intro, then goes berserk. The keys and guitars are rapid fire and frenetic. The rhythm is killer. This is one of the heavier songs.

There is a lot to unpack on this record. The intros to many of the songs are short but set a tone and identify the region of the world the song covers. The writing of these musical parts needs to be mentioned and honored. This is truly an international album. The tones and textures of the songs are so varied and complex that it is hard to properly convey the depth and magnitude it takes to create something this complete.

This album has a start and a finish. Between that, there is a journey. That alone makes this a major power metal album. The music is power, it’s thrash, it’s hard rock and so much more. In the press release, there is a statement that SAEKO stopped playing in the early 2000s because she was ahead of her time. I think the band still is ahead of their time, but that should make us want to catch up and hear what the future holds for us, not ignore it and hope they are still around when we are finally ready.

Songwriting:  10
Musicianship:  10
Memorability:  9
Production:  9

5 Star Rating

1. Circle of Life
2. Japan: In My Dream
3. Syria: Music, My Love
4. UK: Never Say Never
5. Germany: Rebellion Mission
6. India: Farewell to You I (From Father to Son)
7. Brazil: Splinters of The Sun
8. Hawaii (USA): Farewell to You II (From Mother To Daughter)
9. Russia: Heroes
10. Holy Are We Alone
Saeko Kitamae – Vocals/Keyboards
Alessandro Sala – Bass
Michael Ehré – Drums
Guido Benedetti – Guitar/Keyboards
Record Label: Pride & Joy Music


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Edited 16 October 2021

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