I forgot about this song in the 90’s and the 2000’s. It’s like it didn’t exist. Then I purchased the deluxe edition of “Unto The Locust” by Machine Head, and it was a bonus track. And I immediately ripped the CD and copied the song/album to my iPhone and added it to my playlists. The song was back in my life after a long hiatus.
And that is how our relationship with music works. We fall in and out of love with the songs.
Due to blowing away all of the mp3 tracks I had on my iPhone when I switched to streaming, I lost my mp3 rip of the Machine Head version. And it is not on Machine Head’s Spotify account, which irks me, but a Rock Covers album list.
And “The Sentinel” is my favourite track on the “Defenders Of The Faith” album. I could listen to it over and over again.
It’s music made for the sound system and not the earbuds/headphones, however in this day and age, the headphones will do.
A power chord crashes in.
As it buzzes out for a bar, a single note melodic riff is played.
Then another power chord is played, and another single note melodic riff. It repeats, until it gets into the speed metal riff of the verses.
And Halford sets the scene along deserted avenues with figures primed and ready for a quick surprise.
Then we are into the Chorus.
Sworn to avenge
Condemn to hell
Tempt not the blade
All fear the sentinel
It’s an arena rock chorus but it’s lyrical message is so far removed from the pop charts and the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “Cum On Feel The Noize” type of messages. “The Sentinel” is like an avenger for the down trodden and forgotten, or just a no bullshit bounty hunter.
The guitar solo has tapping, pentatonic lines, arpeggio pull off licks, natural minor scalar runs and a whole damn of legato.
And there is silence at the end of the solo, as they move into a melancholic and subdued verse, slowly building it up as the vicar stands expressionless, unmoved by his victory.
And how good are the riffs underneath the Chorus vocal melody.
Sworn to avenge.