Friday, September 30, 2011
Retroactive Records has continued to re-issue classic Christian Metal albums with their Original Series. Having started with the first three Bride albums last year they continue with the first three albums by metal titans Saint.
Time’s End is the second album for Oregon’s Saint. With a solid heavy metal sound reminiscent of Judas Priest’s British Steel era, this album was a classic when it was released back in 1986 and with this re-issue, its status as a classic is ingrained permanently.
This re-issue has been remastered by the wizard himself, J Powell at Steinhaus. Not only has the volume been increased, but the frequencies themselves through out the spectrum no longer bleed together preventing the listener from hearing the music as it was recorded.
Of particular note is how the guitar parts are much cleaner, i.e. I can actually hear the multi tracked rhythm parts in such songs In The Night or Space Cruiser for instance. The bridge section change in Space Cruiser feels fuller and stronger. It’s almost as if I can reach inside the music as opposed to it being one solid mass. (How many times did John Mahan track his parts! 3x’s?)
The songs are even more grinding than before. Steel Killer is just a sheer facemelter. Primed and Ready rocks even harder than before while the title track has more menace to it, all of the tracks have benefited from this updated studio mastering. BBE?
To me this is like when I first heard the album on vinyl and then obtained the original Pure Metal CD. The guitars are what struck me first with a crisper, biting sound. This time Richard Lynch’s bass resonates stronger, Josh Kramer’s vocal cuts through with ease. I purposefully put the original disc and this latest issue on back to back to help determine some of the differences.
Retroactive has reissued this in a tri-fold digipak. Added liner notes by bassist Richard Lynch help to make this a solid release.
Time’s End is an album that has stood the test of time and should be in your collection. Original studio engineer David Lohr (Elton John, Quarterflash) captured some great tones here and now you can enjoy his work in full. Saint fans rejoice this is a definitive reissue, grab yours NOW!
Monday, September 19, 2011
I’d heard the name of Eowyn (outside of the obvious Lord of the Rings reference) a year or two back, but had no idea what this would sound like. The name garnered my attention but not more, at least not until a friend of mine asked if I’d review this if he got me a copy. (Thank you James.)
Well I received Beautiful Ashes in my mail box about two weeks ago and I’ve given it more than a cursory spin. Her bio indicates she’s played with Thousand Foot Crutch, Disciple, and Seventh Day Slumber and with a release like Beautiful Ashes one can see why. However there isn’t a ‘modern rock’ feel to this release. More old school hard rock in style, even though this album is anything but Old School.
Strong melodies with solid arrangements that are just catchy. Enough crunch in the guitar department to snare the most ardent rock hound and literally leave you wanting to hit replay when the album is over. Songs such as Fail Safe open with a strong keyboard arrangement that is backed a powerful six string attack. Much like album opener You Had To, commercial elements populate a driving musical force.
With a strong title track that is punchy and potent such as the one here, you have no choice but to pay attention. The hook will not only stay with you, but it will make you hum it for a long time to come. With components of hard rock, metal guitars, strings, and industrial electronics the music effortlessly moves from pounding rockers to sweeping ballads.
With strong production elements, (as I understand it this was a Kickstarter project) courtesy of Travis Wyrick (Pillar, POD, Disciple), he has blended together a strong array of sounds and given them top flight handling. A sonic assault that is even tempered but highly energetic and full of emotion and LIFE. This is music made by artists and musicians who GET IT.
Eowyn’s passionate vocal is driven by the message she presents, not one of retread slogans. The message roots itself in reality with its misery and pain, but still the reminder and offer of hope is still there. And it’s a message of hope she has experienced herself.
I didn’t know what to expect when I opened this disc, but I’m glad I did. It’s a solid collection of modern sounding hard rock, which flows with a richness that exceeds the genre. It might not be heavy enough for some but for many this will be a welcome breath of fresh air.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
One of the greatest injustices in Christian Metal has finally been corrected. Crossforce, that classic 80’s metal band from the San Francisco bay area finally has an official CD release, not only is it official it’s as dynamic as anything from in that era. The fact that a band could be passed over because of appearance while their musical output was superior to so many others is beyond me.
Whether it’s the melodic metal of Tomorrow Will Come and Out of the Darkness to the driving metal of The Call and Our Father, this CD entitled Rock Until the Final Day just flat out CRANKS! You see what you have here is a compilation of two demo’s that the put together back in the mid 80’s. One of those demos was a six song affair that was commercially available and contained some great melodic metal ala Def Leppard, Queen or Thin Lizzy.
The songs which filled the original 1986 demo were Tomorrow Will Come, Our Father, Smoke Filled Room ( a true ballad with such emotion that is truly heartfelt), Out of the Darkness, Ready n Waiting and the title track for this collection Rock Until the Final Day. The original demo had only 500 copies produced and sold out very quickly.
The balance of the material is from a live in the studio session for Frontline Records that had never been available before. Recorded in late 1987 with seven more songs that sizzle from beginning to end, Stompin' in the Streets, The Call (a galloping piece of whimsy that sails with a phenomenal guitar solo), Heaven’s Door ( a strong piece of metal with a fabulous chorus that will grab hold of you and dig in deep), It’s Your Life, Wait and See (while a slightly unorthodox song structure, make no mistake how hard this song cooks!), The One Who Loves You, and finally Weeping World.
A special live version of Rock Until the Final Day appears at the end of this disc which just captured so much of the Crossforce energy. An essential part of the package if you ask me. The guitar playing of Phil Castillo is tremendous throughout with the obvious ode to Randy Rhodes and Jake E. Lee. Lead vocalist Tony Crider makes it very evident that they should’ve been signed as his songwriting is tremendous. Bass player Jeff Hudson and the previously mentioned Castillo made their own contributions in this area as well.
These are demo tracks so the usual studio polish hasn’t been applied, but I found no reason why that would hamper one’s enjoyment of this material. That’s how strong this stuff is if you ask me. It should be noted that the highly esteemed J Powell at Steinhaus provide a stellar mastering job which as allowed the original recordings to sound even better than before.
Roxx Records has put together quite the package for this release as well. The first 100 discs came with a bonus disc which contained live tracks from a Crossforce show that appear no where else. The bonus disc also contained material from Tony Crider and Phil Castillo’s next band entitled Mercy. There is also a fantastic 16 page color booklet full of photo’s, band and press recollections. Bill from Roxx has indicated to me that he felt this was the best booklet he’d ever put together. A total of 500 discs were pressed and that is all that there will be.
If you’re a fan of 80’s metal this is a disc you must own. Great music and great lyrics always make a classic package.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Make no mistake, Behold the Kingdom is in one word… Ferocious. Strong and powerful deathcore to the bone, subtlety is not in their vocabulary. I will admit that this isn’t the usual fare that I review, death metal yes, deathcore not so often. But when the owner of Rottweiler Records asked if I would, how could I turn him down?
He knew as do you, if I don’t like something I will tell you. That is something I make perfectly clear, no favorites here; if I don’t like it be prepared to hear about it. That being said I was a little unsure of how I would review this album.
The album is entitled The Eyes of the Wicked Will Fail, and with the music equivalent of a sonic sledgehammer Behold the Kingdom drive it home for 10 crushing tracks. Starting with the Prayer of Yeshua it dives into crunchy powerful riffage that thunders ahead at breakneck speed. El Shaddai, Prideful Demise are just two tracks of the musical carnage within.
Extreme metal with extreme vocals, comparisons to Black Dalia Murder, As I Lay Dying and Lamb of God have been made and seem to fit the bill quite nicely. One of the things is that was quite apparent to me is that the songs are punchy and quick, clocking in under 4 minutes for the most part. With plenty of tempo and riff changes throughout which kept my attention quite securely.
The production is tight and punchy with plenty of attack. It added a solid layer of clarity to the songs which brought me under the powerful hooks within. The drumming of Cliff DeWesse is full on brutal; he delivers the back bone of a vicious rhythm assault along with bass player Mark Baker. Derrik Young and Riley Snyder provide an overwhelming guitar barrage throughout. Those six string sabers rest right about that rhythmic back bone and simply pummel you into listening.
Yet the death metal vocals of Joseph Bellmer are strong enough to cut through the musical hurricane that is occurring around him. I liked this album as I found it energetic and punchy; it didn’t get bogged down in monotonous musical excess that often sows the seeds of this listener’s discontent.
Fans of this genre should make no mistake that this is a release they’ll want to obtain immediately. (Sown in Dishonor is simply tremendous). It just felt fresh to me and so with that I will give this album an 8 axe rating. If this album is truly a stepping point one can only wonder what the next release will contain. Until then enjoy this album of ferocious musical carnage.