Saturday, August 25, 2007
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
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
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
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):
[at] hotmail dot com.
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)
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:
- The unique vocals of Edwin Ogenio.
- Their overtly technical style.
- The thin production of this album.
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
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
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 (http://www.bridepub.com/brideord.htm). 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.