Friday, September 28, 2007

Precious Death - Southpaw (1993)

Precious Death was one of those interesting bands that were at once before, and after, their time. By that, I mean that they were embracing that funk-metal hybrid that had come & gone a couple years earlier with bands like Atom Seed, Mindfunk, Living Colour, and I Mother Earth. Most bands erroneously categorized as funk metal were in fact more alternative rock than metal, and though their music contained elements of heavy metal, it was not the dominant element. The aforementioned bands were probably the most "metal" of those associated with the genre. The Christian music market only had one band widely recognized as funk metal, and indeed were associated more w/ the alt rock scene, though their music was heavy enough to be considered metal at that time. That was Dig Hay Zoose. Of course, this band came out about the time Red Hot Chili Peppers and other groups were moving away from the style, & by DHZ's 2nd album Magentamantalovetree came out, the "scene" had all but dried up. The only noteworthy band in that scene from a Christian music standpoint was Hot Pink Turtle, though it's been debated whether they're "metal" enough to be considered part of the same scene & not the alternative rock offshoot of that scene.

Enter Precious Death. After the band's demo (Our Stinkin' Demo) came out in 1991 (the same year as DHZ's 1st album), they regrouped & released their 1st album, Southpaw, in 1993. Now, that was the year DHZ's 2nd album was released. However, this album took a less "metal" approach & was firmly rooted in alt rock as well as the funk leanings of the 1st album. As other bands were abandoning the scene, Precious Death stepped in. The other interesting thing about Precious Death is that their style also incorporates thrash metal (in a somewhat subdued setting), as well as a fairly modern variety of American power metal. Other than the more modern elements, everything the band was doing was on the downturn. Why did they have such an impact, then? I believe that it's because they were stylistically unique in the scene, as well as having elements in their sound that ended up influencing the "nu-metal" scene a few years later. In that sense, they were before their time.

Getting to the music itself, this is an interesting hybrid of mid-paced thrash ala Exodus' "Force of Habit" though a tad less heavy, the modern American power metal stylings of latter-day Anthrax (think "Sound of White Noise" but slightly less heavy), and the funk-metal sounds of bands of the scene, though decidedly more metal than most examples. The title track opens the album with a quiet, clean-guitar intro that blows into a slow, chunky riff. Nothing reeks of funk right away. An interesting picked riff during the verse then recalls the chunky riff again during the chorus. Vocalist Chris Scott has some nice overdubbed vocal harmonies here, including the sung "southpaw" during the chorus. The guitar "solo" here is minimalistic, but works well, serving the song rather than showboating. The bridge speeds things up a bit and has a bit more drum groove w/ some nice cowbell incorporation. Nothing at this point elucidates "funk". Where's the funk?

The answer to that would be "Shine", the 2nd track. The song intros with a drum flourish, and decidedly funk bass, as well as a clean-guitar scratch that recalls funk & disco. The harmonized vocal from Chris is nice, and after a verse of funky bass & guitar scratching comes the heavier chorus with more pronounced drumming. Minor guitar soloing occurs to let you know this is still a metal band, but the funk is brought down in this song. Parts of the scratchy guitar remind of DHZ's work. The clean-guitar bridge 2/3 of the way through is unique & fits the song well. Then a nice melodic solo kicks in. Multiple runs of the chorus close the song in fine form. Track 3 "Hello" doesn't immediately engender thoughts of funk with its clean guitar intro & decidedly rock bassline, or it's heavier underlying riff. Neither does the chunky pre-chorus or the heavy chorus. Not every song has to drip with "tha funk" to be an influence. The bass guitar still shows hints of funk, even if their not pronounced. The solo work in this song is interesting as well. "No-Can-Do" opens with a drum line reminiscent of Spinal Tap's "Big Bottom" (probably not intentional), and a double-tracked guitar line that is slightly eerie. A large riff comes in to complement Chris' vocals & thundering drums in the slow/heavy verse parts. The songs speeds up about 1/4 through, even incorporating a near blast-beat. Never forgetting melody, the riff becomes choppier with Chris' vocals providing the melodic element. Group yells of "No-can-do" accent as well. The solo here serves the song again, providing enough guitar solo for metal heads, but keeping the accessibility high. The slower riff after the solo has that Metallica "black album" feel to it, then a bluesier solo kicks in. After the bluesy part, a more standard fast thrashy solo picks up. "Strange To Me" has more of a defined funk aspect, with funky bass & drums that accent the rhythmic side of funk. Also, the guitar incorporates more of a scratchy sound, albeit this time with more distortion. This song has a great solo! "Talk About the Weather" is one of my favorites with it's fun vibe, finger snaps intro, and bluesy feel. Chris' improvised vocals in the intro also add a nice touch. The main riff has tons of groove, and the song as a whole is dripping with it. Also, more cowbell! There's a nice breakdown in the song about 2/3 in that just adds a bit of atmosphere before the blistering solo. "King of Siam" starts with an awesome super-fast roto-tom intro that I wish there were more of, followed by a nice chunky riff. The verses seem a little too minor chord at times, though I think that was the point (dissonance). The layered vocals here can get a bit overwhelming, at times slipping into post-Voivodian anti-melody. However, they work well in the song. "Force Fed" is a bit thrashier, sounding something like Beg To Differ-era Prong at times (sorry, pun intended). "One Day To Live" is a mostly acoustic ballad. A decent cap on the album, though a tad throw-away compared w/ the rest of the material.

"Southpaw" is generally considered by Precious Death fans to be their best album. Many fans balked at the 2nd album, "If You Must", even though it offered quality songwriting, better production, and a bit more variety in the mix. I am of the opinion that while Southpaw is more consistent, the 2nd album is just as good. Either way, this gem is a classic in the Christian metal scene, & probably the only album of its kind of true funk/thrash/metal that truly graced the Christian music scene.


Sunday, September 2, 2007

Wish For Eden (1994)

Wish For Eden is the inaugural release from Tooth and Nail Records, a CD that would prove both highly important, and slightly controversial. No one could have predicted the impact T&N would have on the Christian music world, not even Brandon Ebel himself. Of course, this CD was the humble first release of the label that could, a far cry from the current sounds being marketed today. No, this post-hardcore gem was ripe & ready, even if it was a couple years behind the curve.

The controversy I mentioned is that a few Christian bookstores & retailers refused to carry the album. They thought that "pet the fish" was a masturbation reference, when in reality, it was just a nonsensical phrase suitable for an album title in the midst of the "alternative generation". Needless to say, this album didn't get its due during its time. While many write this band off as a generic Helmet clone, they would do well to listen a bit more closely & absorb the sound of this classic before passing such judgment.

The album doesn't come roaring out of the starting gate; rather, a brief feedback intro barely prepares the listener for the driving riff that "Questions" uses to suck the listener in. Unlike many of the metal bands that faded into obscurity in the late 80's/early 90's, complexity of the riff was not the order of the day here. A groove-laden, driving riff was what these guys were cooking, and it was tasty. The song moves between ebb & flow, with droning versus, groovy choruses, and a dissonant, ethereal bridge that has just enough guitar feedback to keep it interesting. The song swells at the end with more fast-paced riffing & drum work until the abrupt ending. "Ocean" starts with another groove-laden riff; simple, but effective. The vocals have an echo & effect on them that gives them a haunting feel. Lyrically, the song is very basic; I'm not sure I've quite gleaned the meaning yet, even after all these years. "Don't Know" opens with a clean guitar riff, then screams into another groove-based riff backed by solid drumming. The bass lines in these songs pretty much all serve the songs & don't do anything too dramatic, but that's the way some music sounds best. "U Could" opens with some guitar squealing, and yet another groovy riff, along with some decent drum build-up. The vocals in these songs all move from melodic gruff singing to a more shouted vocal & back again. "Me" opens with guitar feedback & a lead-off bass line. Once the song kicks in, another groovy riff takes hold. "Fade" also opens with a low-end bass line & guitar feedback. The closing title track is the only aberration here; it ends the album on a much lighter note, with less droning guitar, sounding more like a grunge rock ballad (in that good Pearl Jam way) than the rest of the material.

The thing that makes this album work is not how different it is; on the contrary, it's how different it's not. This is not highly original; indeed, this sounds like a slightly less heavy, slightly more melodic version of Helmet. Let that not be a deterrent, however. Underneath the hood of this well-oiled machine is a set of solid, if samey songs, all having their place on the record, & all containing the deliciously obtuse lyrics that many post-grunge bands did back at that time. What makes this record work is that it is the first time since the early Blonde Vinyl records releases that someone was releasing music that was out of the mainstream. Some might argue that Helmet flirted w/ the mainstream due to the success of the single "Unsung" from their Meantime album. Indeed, the band had some success with that song, with a video on MTV & rock radio briefly lauding it. Bands like Helmet don't cater to the mainstream, and reviewers who praised Meantime hated the follow-up album, Betty, despite it being as good (if not better) an album as Meantime. Wish For Eden make a slightly less heavy record, which could appeal to the fan of heavier grunge or post-hardcore, but certainly not to the mainstream rock fan, or even the standard grunge fan, except perhaps those into the more abrasive works of Nirvana or other bands who walked on the harder side of the "alternative" rock movement.

No, this album was destined for the cutout bin before its time. This is not because it's not a good record; no, this was simply a matter of the band being caught in a stylistic movement that was pronounced dead on arrival. Unfortunately, it means that the band never stood a chance except with audiences in the Christian market looking for a positive alternative to the post-punk sounds of Helmet, Snapcase, or Fugazi. Where those bands may have lacked the positivity of a band like Wish For Eden, an important niche was fulfilled. Whether the album stands the test of time has yet to be determined; however, it's cultural relevance cannot be disputed.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

World Against World - Until the Day Breaks and the Shadows Flee Away (1998)

If it wasn't already quite obvious, I'm going for variety in this blog. I don't want to post all of a single style or a certain group of styles: that would be boring. No, variety is the spice of life, & I like my food spicy. As such, sometimes I like to dabble in music styles & genres I'm not intimately familiar with so I can expand my musical vocabulary.

That brings us to this band. World Against World is a band that seemed to spring out of nowhere. In reality, they formed from the ashes of Christian punk band Spudgun. Spudgun were a solid, if unremarkable punk band. The guys in the band probably realized this & knew that if they were going to be effective, they had to get their own vibe. So, when the band broke up & reformed into World Against World, they decided to explore a sub-genre of punk not explored in the Christian music scene thus far: "crust punk". I must admit, the only crust punk band I'd even heard of before was Amebix, and they are thought of as one of the originators of the style. World Against World (heretofore to be referred to as WAW) are different than Amebix, in that they are probably more true punk than Amebix, since they had elements of thrash/speed metal in their sound. WAW have that gritty, noisy sound that "crust punk" is known for, though at times it can border on the metallic.

Interestingly enough, I purchased this at a Christian book store not known for carrying heavy bands. In the past, the heaviest thing they had carried on a regular basis was Skillet, and that was against the will of the store owner, but at the insistence of a couple employees who knew the youth would buy it if she stocked it. I remember they had Crimson Thorn's "Unearthed" on cassette for a short time as well, though I regrettably didn't pick that up. Thus, I was taken aback when I saw the display in the store which included a CD & small poster (probably the only promotional materials BulletProof Music printed up for a band as unique in the scene as WAW). I listened to the CD with no expectations (except that it might be heavy music, judging from the sleeve), and came away with a lot of thoughts. My initial reaction based on the first track was, this is what Horde would sound like if it was a punk band. For the uninitiated, Horde is a "holy unblack" metal band (the Christian antithesis of a "black" metal band). Horde is old-school black metal, fast, loud, noisy, dissonant, and raw. This could be the punk synonym of that ethos. This is loud, fast, noisy, dissonant, and raw. The vocals are nigh unintelligible in places, the bass rumbles loudly, the guitar cuts a swath through things, and the sharp snare drum pierces when it's hit particularly hard.

The other major similarity to Horde here is the song titles: Jayson Sherlocke (the man behind Horde) had an affinity with long song titles, & these guys must share in that passion. The first track, "Disrupted Darkness and Scattered Spirits" opens with a deceptively melodic, yet foreboding guitar line, until the music picks up & the vocalist jumps in screaming "Terror, terror, terror!" Indeed, the U-Card has the word "terror" written all over it on the inside, so when you remove the CD, that's what you see. "Our Nation of Thoughtlessness Celebrates Immorality While Seeking Independence From But Nevertheless Finding A Plague of Sorrow" (2nd track) also opens with a slow, churning riff that morphs into a mid-paced riff with rolling bassline (with almost an Steve Harris/Iron Maiden-like gallop to it), and the screaming vocal line. Mid-way through is a somewhat metallic bridge section with a scale riff. "The Hope of the Wicked Has Become Despair" is a fast song that opens with a near blast beat, then settles into an interesting drum groove alongside a constant guitar line. "A Somber Tale of Repentance" opens with background noise that sounds like voices, and an interesting, ominous guitar line that also cuts out here & there. If you listen with headphones, you can tell the guitars here are double-tracked for effect, and it works nicely. The guitar is extra distorted here, as are the vocals. There are very few lyrics on this track, and the vocalist uses an echo effect to draw out the sound. "The Destruction of the World In All of Her Glorious Splendor" opens to the sound of a child's toy (like the wind-up teddy bears that would play a tune), then blasts into a heavy guitar riff and fast drumming. More screaming vocals here, and lost of distortion. This song also has some double-bass drumming, something that many punk bands don't use because it's a convention often associated with metal. "Insomnia For the Dead" opens with a fade-in on the drums, and then blows into a slow high-pitched riff & vocals, then settles into a groove along a nice drumline. "We Dance With the Moment on the 2nd Story Of Finality, Unaware of the Flames Slowly Spreading Up the Stairs" opens with a very dissonant, distorted guitar line, distorted bass, and simple drum line. Then, the tempo picks up just a tad & goes into a slow hardcore type of burn. This is probably the longest track on the album, and goes through more "movements" than any other. It also doesn't have vocals until the song is nearly 3/4 of the way through. The vocals in this track are extremely distorted & processed, and are barely understandable. "Deserted Concern For the Irrefutable" opens with a simple drum pattern, and into another slow, ominous riff, then into a cool drum groove and faster riff. This is the 2nd longest song on the album. The closing song, "One Final Attempt at Righting Our Wrongs" evokes images of goth music, as a barely audible organ can be heard amid a smattering of sound effects, only to come to a head in ambient noise at the end of the track.

At just 35 minutes, this is a short album, but not one easily digested. If you're not into noise hardcore, or noise punk, this can be a hard pill to swallow. If you're adventurous, however, this album can be very rewarding. Lyrically, the band delves into some pretty heavy stuff; all backed up by scripture references. In fact, the only place in the packaging where a scripture reference doesn't appear is on the CD itself, as well as on the U-Card where the song listing is at. Otherwise, there is scripture referenced almost everywhere else. These guys are serious to the bone, and it shows in the performances. This is not silly, fun punk music like the Ramones, MxPx or Slick Shoes. Rather, this is a serious band with serious lyrics & music. I would even recommend that this not be played for young kids, because some of the lyrical themes touch on Biblical passages that younger kids wouldn't understand or would find confusing.

Interestingly enough, I read in an online forum a couple years later that WAW had broken up & reformed into an unblack metal project, so my initial reaction of "Horde punk" was not entirely inaccurate. It seems the WAW guys & myself were on the same wavelength on that one. In any event, this is unique in the Christian music scene, and a welcome stylistic diversion from all the tough-guy hardcore bands & pop-punk groups that seem to "horde" the spotlight (sorry, pun intended).


Monday, August 20, 2007

Detritus - If But For One (1992)

This was my first exposure to Detritus. I purchased this album as a new release in the fall of `92, and was forever entrenched as a full-on thrash metal fan. Tourniquet's Pathogenic Ocular Dissonance was proof that Christian metal was as good (or in that case better) as what the secular & mainstream had to offer; this album further cemented that proof. Of course, it wouldn't be until several years later that I realized just how right I really was.

The album opens somewhat deceptively with a rhythmic acoustic guitar, followed by a bit of solo work that invokes a slightly subdued metal blues. All of a sudden, the heavy riff & powerful drum rhythm kicks in & you know this is a thrash album. "Masquerade" opens the album nicely with a great riff & powerful vocals by Mark Broomhead. "So Far Away" also opens deceptively; with a spacey clean guitar line that is ethereal & interesting. The dual-layered vocals works nicely with Mark sining in a tenor voice and a lower register in harmony. Half-way through the song the thrashy riff kicks in & takes the song into overdrive. "Let Peace Begin With Me" has a killer riff and urgent vocals. "Feel" is a bit of an acoustic interlude that swells to pique at the end. "Blindly Rejected" is a mid-paced song about the mentally & physically handicapped & how we as a society generally ignores or rejects them when all they want is love. The albums title piece is a monster thrash song with interspersed fast & slow riffing, a pinch of death metal growls, and a beautiful piano-laced outro that rivals Faith No More's "Epic" in that category. "Sailor's Farewell" is a tune that lyrically evokes Running Wild with their pirate themes, though in a more spiritual context. "Father To Son" is a great commentary of a father on his deathbed apologizing to his son for not being a better father, but asking that he take comfort in his Heavenly Father instead of looking to his own father. "As It Rains" is a metal praise song, if ever there was. It talks about the beauty of God and His creation in the earth, and how we as humanity have been careless & destroyed much of the beauty of the earth. "Subtle Shades" closes the album in an unorthodox fashion; the song is not thrash, and indeed, not even metal. It's sort of like an indie pop piece within the context of a Pink Floyd space-out. Truly an interesting piece, and lyrically abstract as well.

Detritus unfortunately broke up after this. I remember writing to them & receiving a letter back from the band months later that the group had split & was no longer selling merchandise. I was disappointed because I wanted a Detritus T-shirt. In any event, Mark Broomhead was in a new band called Fire Fly, though that is now defunct & they have reformed in to an outfit called Exoria. I'm hoping it's a metal project. In any event, this album is a lasting testament to how good Christian metal can be, & is JUST as good a listen today as it was 15 years ago when I bought it.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Detritus - Perpetual Defiance (1990)

If there was ever an underrated thrash band in all of the UK in the secular scene, it was Xentrix. Apparently too many people thought they had more in common with the bay area thrasher's of the day (& Metallica) than their European counterparts (such as Destruction or Kreator) & that their music wasn't as interesting as it could or should have been. I never subscribed to such thought, however; rather, I was more a fan of Xentrix than either of the aforementioned bands, probably because I preferred their lyrical approach more.

That said, they also had an enjoyable music style. Which brings us to this album - Detritus' "Perpetual Defiance" has much in common with their UK countrymen Xentrix, and much different as well. Allow me to explain. While Xentrix's debut album "Shattered Existence" showcased a better production value than this platter, Detritus showed marked improvement over that album in terms of songwriting and diversity. Where "Shattered Existence" was quite a consistent album, having much the same sound all the way through, Detritus showed us quite a range on "Perpetual Defiance", from the more mellow opening moments of "Child", to the eerie intro to "Morbid Curiosity", the brutal thrash assault of "No Mercy", the lyrical indictment of satanic lyricism in "Playing With Fire", or the straight-forward British thrash of "Taste the Blood". Xentrix had not been so bold. Although this album lacks a tad, sonically, it makes up for it in droves via memorable songs, as well as through the diversity. In addition, the brilliant Rodney Matthews cover art gives the album additional weight in a market where most secular metalheads wouldn't give a Christian metal album a 2nd look, the mark of a good album sleeve (something most metal bands strive for) was definitely in the band's favor.

For these reasons, I'd say "Perpetual Defiance" is at least on par with, if not superior to "Shattered Existence", and for that, it deserves a place in any thrash metal fan's collection. I dare say it belongs in the top 15 Christian thrash albums of all time. Granted, this was not my first exposure to Detritus (that came several months earlier when I purchased this album's follow-up "If But For One" & was inexplicably drawn in). At first blush, this album (with it's somewhat thin production by comparison, and toned down progressive tendencies) was a minor disappointment. While time has not been kind to the album where the production is concerned, the songs still stand the test. Overall, a stunning debut from a quartet whose next album would prove to be a landmark, not only in Christian metal, but in thrash metal as well.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Decision D - The Last Prostitute (1995)

Well, if ultra-technical thrash isn't quite your thing, Decision D's third & final album might change your mind. This album tones down the overt, "change the riff every 30 seconds" mentality of its predecessor "Moratoria", and to some extent, their debut "Razon De La Muerte".
Instead, they let the technicality be in the riffs themselves, the variety present here, and the way it's all constructed. Production here is better than before, & the riffs are less abundant, allowing the songs to "breathe" a bit more. This was wise for a number of reasons, and it gives the album a nice groove to it that early thrash metal just didn't have. Despite that, this is still very much a thrash album.

Album opener "Last Prostitute" starts off slowly with a nice groove, and gets things going with a chunky riff that lets you know the band is serious. Edwin uses less of the screaming here, as well as virtually eliminating the death growls of before, and incorporates kind of a whispery vocal that adds an interesting element. "Graffiti" is an interesting song about how Jesus did not condemn the prostitute, but instead told the people that if any one of them was without sin, they could cast the first stone. It has a nice groove, and is kind of broken down into 2 parts that work together, though are very distinctive. "Residence of Dishonour" has a great groove, and interesting vocal phrasing & timing. "Independent Remorse" has some interesting spoken word vocals, some interesting "moaning" vocals, as well as some of the fastest riffing on the album. "Smoke" is an interesting sort of tribal beat type of song with mostly whispered vocals and mostly just rhythmic instrumentation. "Accusations" has a nice twisting riff, and a good syncopated drum beat to match. "Forsaken" is a bit more traditional thrash in sound, but maintaining the album's groove. "You Ain't Nothing" has another nice progressive thrashy riff, and a good rolling drum groove behind it, as well as some monster bass. Edwin uses a funky mid-range vocal that's reminiscent of Cirith Ungol, as well as as some more traditional metal singing, which I believe is unique to this album. "Racist Behavior" closes the album with throaty vocals, lots of groove, and a heavy groove/thrash sound.

All in all, a nice cap-off to Decision D's career, and a great album. It's too bad this gem, like their other material, has been largely unheard outside of Europe, because this is awesome stuff.


Friday, August 17, 2007


I want to write reviews based on albums I lack in my collection. Obviously, in order to accomplish this, I have to acquire them. I don't ask that you sell me a hard to find CD for next to nothing, but I'm not paying $40 or more for a CD copy of something I might already have on cassette or vinyl, or for an album whose original worth may have decreased due to a re-release or larger than anticipated original run (such as Rage of Angels or Saint's "Times End" CD).

In any event, here is a short list of albums I need on CD (or vinyl, where applicable):

  • Time's End by Saint (original or re-issue)
  • Too Late For Living by Saint (re-issue, I have the original Pure Metal issue) - added 3-6-09
  • Saint boxset - Obtained!
  • Show No Mercy by Bride (original and re-issue, CD and vinyl) - added 3-6-09
  • Silence is Madness by Bride (original and re-issue, CD and vinyl) - added 3-6-09
  • Bloodgood by Bloodgood
  • Detonation by Bloodgood Obtained! though I woudn't mind a copy of the recent re-issue on CD :)
  • Rock in a Hard Place by Bloodgood (CD please, I have on vinyl)
  • Out of the Darkness by Bloodgood (CD and vinyl please, I have on cassette)
  • Rebellion by Sacred Warrior
  • Master's Command by Sacred Warrior (CD please, I have on cassette)
  • Wicked Generation by Sacred Warrior
  • Obsessions by Sacred Warrior
  • Behind Enemy Lines by Recon (both original & M8 re-issue, as well as Japanese Pony Canyon release) - *NOTE* I am not willing to pay the INSANE prices I see on eBay and Amazon for this album, so if you're looking to score a major sale, fuggedaboudit.
  • Sylentiger by Trytan (original - I have the re-issue)
  • Celestial Messenger by Trytan (original & re-issue)
  • Your Dying Day by Haven (original & re-issue)
  • Age of Darkness by Haven - Obtained! I still need the original version, though
  • Whitecross by Whitecross - Obtained! original vinyl, still looking for the CD!
  • Hammer and Nail by Whitecross
  • Into the Kingdom by Whitecross - Obtained!
  • High Gear by Whitecross - Obtained!
  • Pillars of Humanity by The Crucified
  • The Crucified by The Crucified (original Narropath CD only, I have the T&N re-issue) - added 3-6-09
  • Take Up Your Cross/Nailed by The Crucified (T&N CD re-issue) - added 3-6-09
  • Take Up Your Cross by The Crucified (original cassette-only release) - added 3-6-09
  • Nailed by The Crucified (original cassette-only release) - added 3-6-09
  • The Empty by Godfear
  • Pound For Pound by Godfear
  • Know God? by Godfear (cassette only release) - added 3-6-09
  • Neon Cross by Neon Cross (original and M8 re-issue)
  • Torn by Neon Cross - Obtained!
  • Glimmer of Hope by Ordained Fate
  • Ordained Fate (demo) by Ordained Fate
  • Dimensions by Believer (original R.E.X. & Roadrunner, I have digipak re-issue)
  • The Torment by Seventh Angel (original & M8, I have the Metal Mind version)
  • Lament For the Weary by Seventh Angel (original & M8, I have the Metal Mind version)
  • Once Dead by Vengeance Rising
  • Moratoria by Decision D
  • Spiritual Matrix by Sculpture - Obtained!
  • Mortal Enemy (any of their demos) by Mortal Enemy
  • Angelica by Angelica
  • Walkin' in Faith by Angelica (I used my younger brother's copy to write the review!)
  • Ransom by Ransom
  • Soul Asylum by Ransom - Obtained!
  • Armored Choir by Arsenal
  • Hear the Light/Find Your Heart a Home by Barnabas (CD re-issue or original vinyls)
  • Feel the Fire/Little Foxes by Barnabas - Obtained! the original vinyl, still looking for double-disc CD re-issue
  • Calling Down Fire by Rosanna's Raiders (Original, not the re-issue)
  • Clothed In Fire by Rosanna's Raiders (Original, not the reissue)
  • Don't Dance With Danger by Scarlet Red (CD and vinyl)
  • Rock of Offense by First Strike - Obtained!
  • Master of the Metal by Messiah Prophet
  • I Shall Conquer by Leviticus - Obtained! M8 re-issue, I still need the original vinyl
  • The Strongest Power by Leviticus - Obtained! M8 re-issue, I still need the original vinyl
  • Setting Fire To The Earth by Leviticus
  • Knights of Heaven by Leviticus
  • Fighter by Fighter
  • Bang the Drum by Fighter
  • Battle Cries by The Brave
  • Trust by The Brave
  • LOFCAUDIO by Mastedon - Obtained!
  • It's a Jungle Out There by Mastedon - Obtained!
  • Halo by Halo
  • Crystavox by Crystavox
  • The Bottom Line by Crystavox (aka Crystavox II)
  • Mad at the World by Mad at the World - added 8-16-08 (CD please, I have on vinyl)
This isn't a complete list, & more requests will follow. I will be making new request posts as I determine more albums to add. In the meantime, please comment on this post to notify me if you'd like to help fulfill a request, or e-mail metalfro777 [at] hotmail dot com.

Decision D - Razon De La Muerte (1992)

Here is an interesting, little-known Dutch technical thrash band called Decision D. They are probably best remembered in the Christian metal scene for 3 things:
  1. The unique vocals of Edwin Ogenio.
  2. Their overtly technical style.
  3. The thin production of this album.
Yes, while it's true that many thrash bands first albums had poor production, and this being no exception, one can easily look past that to see the beauty within. The guitar is heavy, the riffs are plenty, the solo work is good (while not being outstanding), and the band sounds tight. Edwin has a variety of vocal sounds, ranging from a low, death metal growl to a high-pitched scream, and a few levels & sounds in between. Edwin's vocals are somewhat an acquired taste, but once you acquire them, you'll find this album has a lot to offer. Opening track "Diabolic Shadow" starts off full force with a driving riff, and Edwin screaming into a rapid-fire lyrical approach, sounding not unlike a hardcore punk band trying to spit out a lot of lyrics. However, Edwin's inflections make things more interesting. "World's Deception" slows things down a bit, and gives Edwin a chance to stretch out even more, vocally, and has some nice riffing. "Holy Supper", my other fav on the album, has an awesome chorus riff, in addition to an interesting vocal by Edwin.

All in all, a difficult album to come by (though not nearly as difficult as its follow-up, Moratoria), but worth the search. This is a forgotten Christian thrash gem that should have been appreciated by more people, had they received distribution through someone like Diamante back in the day. Sadly, few outside of Europe heard this unless they ordered through someone like Rad Rockers.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Blenderhead - Prime Candidate For Burnout (1994)

This is, in my opinion, the quintessential Christian hardcore punk release. Not "Sin Disease" by Scaterd Few (a great album in its own right), not either album by Fluffy, not anything by Crashdog, and not anything by Lust Control. No, this is the most angry, vitriolic punk album I've heard in the Christian scene, though I can say it is truly righteous anger displayed here, rather than just naked rage.

This album was one of 2 punk albums I bought the summer between my junior & senior years in high school. I had just started listening to punk (other than Greenday or the Offspring on the radio), and I purchased this, and MxPx's debut Pokinatcha. While I liked the raw, pop-punk sound of Pokinatcha (& still prefer it to most of MxPx's later output), this album absolutely blew me away. From the fun, literal cover art to the insane music inside, this album smokes. Every song tackles some spiritual, religious, or socio-political topic in an upfront, honest manner. "Power Trip" talks about how politicians lust for power, "Bottle Breaker" talks about humility & how we should be thankful God wishes to use us for His work, "Alcohol House" is a powerful song about an abusive, alcoholic husband/wife relationship (told from the viewpoint of the husband - chilling!), "Purgatory" is about non-conformity, "Spare Change" is about homelessness, and "National Drug" is about how, regardless of your religious, spiritual, social, or political affiliation, anyone within that affiliation that is in the public eye has an agenda, whether you believe it or not. After all, we're all human, and we all have motives, whether they're part of God's will or not.

All in all, this is a monster album that EVERY Christian punk fan should own. It's loud, raucous, fast, heavy, has good guitar work (especially for punk music), and will just rock your face off. "Prime Candidate For Burnout" should be on every punk fan's short list as a top album. Blenderhead (unfortunately) took things down a notch with their 2nd album, "Muchacho Vivo", and reportedly moved in an "At the Drive-In" direction w/ their 3rd & final album, "Figureheads on the Forefront of Pop Culture". However, if you looking for pure punk fury, look no further.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Bride - Snakes in the Playground (1992)

This is it...the mother lode. Even if you weren't familiar with any Christian hard rock or metal in the early 90's, it's hard to ignore releases like this. Bride made waves in the industry with this hard-hitting record. After moving away from a decidedly 80's American metal sound with the previous record "Kinetic Faith", Bride cranks up the volume on this one to play what could be considered a mix of metal & hard rock sounds. I would equate this record to Guns `n Roses' "Appetite For Destruction" or Skid Row's "Slave to the Grind" both in style & quality. Every track on here is killer, including the couple instrumental interludes and the short bluegrass diversion "Salt River Shuffle" with Greg Martin (legendary bluegrass player). From the anthemic opener "Rattlesnake", to the album's barn burner "Fallout", to the anti-abortion song "Picture Perfect", this album is a winner.

Lyrically, Dale Thompson is in fine form here as well. "Picture Perfect" opens with the line "Coat-hanger alley where the doctors work cheap" - an obvious allusion to the early days of abortions before they were legalized. "Love, Money" talks about gang violence in a very intelligent manner, and "Would You Die For Me" is an interesting look at greed and how it affects us versus sacrifice & the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made for mankind on the cross, without being heavy-handed or overly preachy. Guitarist Troy Thompson is also in fine form here, turning out some tasty riffage, and some nice solos. Troy has never been a power-house soloist; rather, his solos are mostly written to accent the songs. They do that & more here, where all the solos fit very well into the songs.

Bottom line is, if you don't already have this CD in your Christian music collection & you enjoy hard rock in the least, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? This is probably one of my top 25 all-time favorite Christian rock/metal CDs, & one that I am forever grateful for. As far as I'm aware, the only way to get your hands on this CD (other than buying it used) is to purchase directly from the band ( I don't believe the album is in print any more through Star Song, but the band probably has a few copies yet to sell. In any event, PLEASE go to Bride's website & buy it. They have it priced at only $14, which is a good deal for a still-sealed copy of a 15-year old magnum opus that hasn't been in print for a while.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Angelica - Rock Stock & Barrel (1991)

Rock Stock & Barrel is Angelica's 3rd album, and one of the 1st tapes I ever purchased with my own money. I was initially disappointed with this release for some reason. I had listened to it at a friend's house & enjoyed it, but when I brought it home, I thought the guitar tone was weak as compared to other similar bands. I also thought the production was too slick (my biggest issue w/ Walkin' In Faith some years later). I only listened to it a couple times, then shelved it.

Fast forward 1 year later & I listened to it again. What was I thinking! This album, while a bit too slick for its own good, is awesome! As far as I'm concerned, this has better, more varied songwriting than Walkin' In Faith (something that brought that album down a notch), and has a more interesting vocalist in Drew Bacca. Not only does Drew have the pipes to support these tunes, but he has a lot more personality & inflection in his delivery than Jerome Mazza ever did, which gives these tracks more personality in turn.

Because this was an early purchase for me & I STILL have it on cassette (as well as CD), this holds a special place in my heart as an early favorite. I still go back to this one as frequently as the debut, even if it doesn't have the teeth the debut has. Still, this is a great album. My favorite tracks include "The Fire Inside", "Cover Me" with it's acoustic intro & bluesy swagger, "Home Sweet Heaven" with it's interesting riff, "Keep Pushin' On" with it's high-energy, and "Rhyme and Reason" with it's awesome groove. Of course, no Angelica album would be complete without Dennis Cameron getting a chance to shred a bit, & we get that in "Bumble Boob Groove", a guitar interpretation of the classical piece"Flight of the Bumblebee", as well as an instrumental version of "Oh, Canada", since Dennis & co. are from Canada.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Angelica - Walkin' In Faith (1990)

Angelica's 2nd album, "Walkin' In Faith" takes a minor turn from the debut, in that, the album has a more polished sound. That works both in the albums favor, and to its detriment. What I mean by that is this; the album sounds really good. The production is top notch, the programmed drums sound more real than most, and the guitar sound has a pristine shine to it. Also, Jerome Mazza's vocals, while not as immediately recognizable as the inimitable Rob Rock (not Andy Lyon, as printed on the sleeve), sound great on the record & fit perfectly with the instrumentation. My biggest qualm with the album is that it's too well produced. Everything has so much production that it sounds a tad sterile.

That shouldn't deter you, however, from downloading & enjoying this album. There is some great stuff to be had here. The opening title track is a great song, followed immediately by "Hold On", which has one of the most memorable riffs guitarist/mastermind Dennis Cameron has ever written. "Soul Search" has a nice hook, "Time and Time Again" brings a different meter into the picture to keep things interesting, and "Bring Into Being" just sounds great with its hooky chorus & big sound.

So, yes, compared to the absolutely rocking debut, this seems a tad subdued, & perhaps a bit overproduced. However, it's a great album in its own right, & a fine follow-up to one of Christian hard rock's best debut albums ever.



Thank you for visiting this weblog. I have set up this space on the web to pay tribute to some of the progenitors & early innovators of Christian rock & heavy metal by offering up my views & reviews of some of the music that has been instrumental (sorry, pun intended) in shaping the Christian rock & metal scene as we know it today. If it weren't for these early adopters of the style & sound, we would not have awesome bands today like Underoath, Demon Hunter, Miseration, Immortal Souls, Leeland, and more. Much of this material will come from my own CD collection, though some will come from other sources. I AM LOOKING FOR CONTRIBUTORS for this blog as well. My hope is to have reviews covering as many sub-genres of Christian rock & metal as possible well represented. I also plan on writing reviews of many new & recent releases as well to show how far the Christian music artistry has come & where it's headed.

Bands are encouraged to submit demos & material for review if they like my lengthy, honest review style. If a band/label wishes to submit materials for review, they can e-mail me: metalfro777 [at] hotmail dot com. I will send instructions as to how a demo or other material can be submitted.

So, there you have little corner of cyberspace devoted to Christian rock & metal. I plan to cover as many sub genres as I can. I will focus mostly on music that was released on known labels, though I am open to demos & custom releases as well. Matter of fact, I will be reviewing at least 2 demos from an artist here in the coming weeks, & will be seeking out other underground material from artists that never had their material released through traditional CCM distribution channels. Stay tuned for some great stuff...I hope you like what I have to offer!