Guardian was originally founded in 1982 in Orange County, California under the name Fusion, by singer/songwriter/guitarist Paul Cawley and bassist David Bach. The original band lineup included drummer Steve Martinez and guitarist Gene Thurston. The group stood out in the burgeoning Los Angeles metal music scene due to their unconventional futuristic body-armor stage outfits, whose concept Cawley derived from the biblical passage in Ephesians 6 regarding “putting on the full armor of God”. Member changes in 1984 included drummer Rikk Hart and guitarist James Isham. In late 1984, Isham departed, and the trio of Cawley, Bach & Hart recorded an EP of six Cawley-penned tunes called Rock In Victory. During early 1985, the band experimented with some pop textures and were temporarily joined by keyboardist Brent Jeffers and vocalist Pat Dewey, who left shortly thereafter to form a band called The Deacons. After much searching, Cawley, Bach & Hart recruited guitarist David Caro. Caro arrived just in time for one of the first of many shifts in the band’s trajectory.
In 1985, the band managed to strike a record deal with Enigma Records, after Hart’s high school friend, Eric Blair, (who worked for the Christian metal band Stryper) pitched the Rock in Victory EP to Enigma Records President, Wesley Hein. When they found out there was a Spanish band also going by the name Fusion, they changed the band name to Gardian – intentionally misspelled to have 7 letters in line with the Stryper numerology of the day. In early 1986, Caro left the band and was replaced by guitarist Tony Palacios. With Palacios, there surfaced a bootleg EP, Voyager in 1987—which were really just pre-production demos recorded in the backroom of an Orange County music store.
In 1988, the band abandoned the space armor and added the “U” to their name—while continually touring throughout California and recording demos for their record label. In 1989, Enigma/Capitol finally released their first official album, First Watch, produced by Stryper’s Oz Fox. This release featured a more melodic metal sound and was followed by extensive touring through the United States and Japan. Rikk Hart departed the group in the fall of 1989 and was replaced by drummer Jason Souza for the Japanese tour. Souza was then recruited by John Alderete and John Corabi for the original lineup of The Scream and was replaced by former Shelijahn drummer, Karl Ney. In early 1990, founding member Cawley left the band.
After Cawley’s departure, Bach and Palacios asked to be freed of their Enigma contract, requesting a more Christian-focused label. After they were released, former Tempest lead singer Jamie Rowe joined the band. The new Guardian then inked a deal with producers Dino and John Elefante’s Pakaderm label—with distribution through Word Records in the Christian market and Epic records in the mainstream market—and entered the studio to record their sophomore release with the new lineup.