CD Review: Sacred 13 “Jagged Regrets”

If there is nothing really outstanding about a band, they will eventually fade and disappear. But if there is something that catches your ear and keeps your attention, that band should survive for a long time. This is the perfect way to describe the Pennsylvania band Sacred 13.

Sacred 13 is a hard rock band that is fronted by Josh Karickhoff, one of the youngest musicians to have competed in Guitar Player’s Guitar Hero competition. The first time I had seen Karickhoff it was in concert with his cousin Gus Ward during the XMG Music Conference that took place in Cleveland during August of 2005 as part of their former band Blue Fire. This was just a few weeks after Karickhoff had placed in the top ten of the competitors of the Guitar Hero competition. The very young Karickhoff was just as impressive during the XMG Music Conference as he had to have been during Guitar Hero competition.

A few years later, I was reintroduced to the musician by the name of Josh Karickhoff. This time, Karickhoff and his cousin/Blue Fire cofounder, Gus Ward, made up two-thirds of a hard rock band called Sacred 13. When Blue Fire was an outfit with a blues/rock feel, Sacred 13 is a much harder band with a hard rock edge.

In 2010, Sacred 13 released their latest album entitled Jagged Regrets. On this release, the album was created with Karickhoff on vocals, guitars and drums while Gus Ward added the bass line and backing vocals. Karickhoff and Ward created Jagged Regrets together, writing the songs and producing the tracks for the album themselves.

Jagged Regrets from Sacred 13 begins with the track “Secrets”. The song is just hard enough to make for a great place to start for those not familiar with the style of the band.
With “Lifeless,” Karickhoff adds a few sound effects through his guitar to give the beginning of the track a very cool feel. This makes “Lifeless” one of the best tracks on the release. The song also contains one of the best solos on the guitar by Karickhoff that shows why he got as far as he did in the Guitar Hero competition.

Whether done on purpose or not, the song “One Day at Time” can be viewed as being a song to showcase the player side of Karickhoff. The beginning 30 seconds of the tune build from a single guitar to many guitars to create a well-layered sound that gives the song a strong musical foundation. The multi-guitar approach to the song makes it feel as if the song was actually created by an entire band and not just two talented musicians.

There are two versions of the song “Out of Time” on the album. The first version is a full-band hard rock track that is one of the strongest tracks on Jagged Regrets. The second version of the tune is an acoustic version that is just as strong as the original version even though the electric feel of the track has been replaced with acoustic instruments.

One of the best tracks on Jagged Regrets is the remake of The Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus”. Karickhoff and Ward take the song and give it a harder feel than you are used to; but that being said, the song stays pretty close to the spirit of the original composition. The modern feel is a great way to update this classic track.

There is a theme running through the Jagged Regrets release from Sacred 13: Some time before the creation of this album, the house belonging to Gus and Josh’s grandparents was lost to a fire. The package for the CD contains scenes that were probably from that incident. The song “Inferno” was also written about that day. The song even contains some sounds that seem to capture the feeling of that time.

While Karickhoff is a talented musician, the same must be said about his bandmate and co-writer Gus Ward. Without Ward, the music of Sacred 13 would not be as strong as it is. This release really shows that Ward and Karickhoff have developed a style that works well for them and helps them create music that people can enjoy.

While Jagged Regrets by Sacred 13 is a self-produced release, Karickhoff and Ward have created an album that has a very professional sound. The two cousins have the experience as musicians and as songwriters that really is apparent on this newest release by the band. As a hard rock release goes, this is one of the finest albums of the genre to be produced in a long time, especially when you consider that it was created by only two musicians.

To find out more about the band’s publicity firm, check out Rainmaker Media Group.