Tuesday, May 24, 2011
David Benson has been around the Christian Metal scene since the mid 90’s. Yet this re-issue is my introduction to him and his music. He’s been one of these names that I’ve heard about and pondered what his music would sound like. Many of you who are more familiar with him are probably shocked that I’d not heard him before.
Well with Intense Millennium's reissue of Benson’s first album I’ve finally got the opportunity to check him out for myself. Purpose of the Cross was originally released in 1996, this edition has been remastered and expanded for a modern audience. Three extra tracks were added that Benson recorded with former Tempest guitar player Mick Rowe, more about those later.
Purpose of the Cross is the almost perfect amalgam of early 70’s era Sabbath with a strong sense of melody and just the right touch of early solo Ozzy. Benson is clearly influenced by Ozzy as his vocal performance is clearly brings that spotlight to it.
Yet without the songs themselves no amount of posturing will save any artist and Benson has the songs to back up his performance. From album opener Purpose of the Cross to Shout through Works album closer Faith, and this album is some true doomy metal. The more I listen to this album the more I like it and it actually excites me to hear someone playing Heavy Metal in a traditional manner. It also makes me wonder why there aren’t more bands from a Christian point of view doing it.
This disc rocks my friends, if you dig stuff like Barren Cross, Whitecross, Trytan then you’ll have no problem here. If you’re a purist who feels that wearing one’s influence on your sleeve this way is a problem then don’t buy it, but if you’re like me and just want some tunes to rock out to, grab this album NOW!
On the production end of things Purpose of the Cross has that underground feel and I’ve no doubt that the remastering has helped to improve the sound. The frequencies seem to be balanced appropriately; it’s not overly thin or boomy. Lyrically David lays his Christian message right out there.
Now back to three bonus tracks, Benson and Rowe collaborated on what would’ve been a new Tempest album. Yet that album would’ve sounded nothing like the Tempest of the late 80’s. These tracks are doomy sludge that follow the style of Benson’s other material. On this release they are right at home and perhaps are even heavier then the rest of the album. Just listen to Crushing the Dark Cathedral and your head is gonna sway hard.
Fans of Ozzy era Sabbath should find something to cheer about here. Doomy, powerful metal with melody and a message, Purpose of the Cross is the real deal. A big thumbs up and here’s looking forward to more from where this came from.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
This album is full tilt driving rock n roll with a southern flair. Streetfighter is the title of this previously unreleased third album by Vision. Originally recorded in 1986 it hasn’t seen the light of day until now.
Born Twice Records who previously released their first two discs last year have come up with a tri fecta. This album has a bit more grit than its predecessors. This disc opens with a strong rocker in Stop the Killing and the rock doesn’t stop through I’m Gonna Live, Mighty One, Rock This Town, and the gritty title track. The 13 songs here crank and will have you wanting to take a long drive with the stereo up to full blast.
Yet there are some definite 80’s type moments, however those elements are more arranging take for example the AOR styling’s on I Know You or Break the Silence.
Rocco Marshall shows again why he knows how to pen strong songs and play a mean guitar. Billy Powell of Lynyrd Skynyrd lent his talents and his abilities which shine through out this album. The lines he adds to Rock this Town make it drive and scream.
The production element is a tad thin at times, but overall it’s very enjoyable. It's lyrically bold and uplifting without a lot of tired cliches.
Fans of Marshal Tucker, 38 Special and the like shouldn’t wait to grab this album. Streetfighter is infectious, and really leaves me wondering why it never saw the light of day earlier. This is a band that this reviewer wishes he could’ve seen live, I bet they’d tear it up. Don’t wait, get this album.
Friday, May 6, 2011
Fans of 90’s hard rock and metal should rejoice with this stellar reissue from Retroactive Records. Rex Carroll and The Bleed is solid 90’s grungy hard rock at its best. Not unlike Pearl Jam or Alice in Chains, Take Back a Life is an obscure album which has finally seen a new life.
This album was originally released as The Bleed with the title of Ouch!. Rex Carroll (Whitecross/King James) and Tim Bushong (Lovewar) collaborated and assembled an album that sounds nothing like either of their previous efforts. You won’t hear Rex ripping up the fretboard like a madman on this album.
There are quite a few catchy songs with solid melodies Love Over All; Me My Orb and Mine; Lies. The production is clean and tight which enhances the songs, nothing gets lost in a muddy mix, but it breathes and finds its place.
Make it clear that this album more in common with Pearl Jam than Whitecross. To emphasize that when the album was originally released Rex Carroll’s name wasn’t even attached to the album, lest someone think it was a new Whitecross product.
Devotes of the second King James album will find more to rejoice about here. Take Back a Life is a good album for those who enjoy the more positive elements of grunge.