Tuesday, December 10, 2013


 Deliverance has created a long legacy of world class metal music.  Many will choose to remember only their second release Weapons of Our Warfare as the bands musical highpoint. While Weapons is worthy of being remembered and honored to call it their sole watermark would be to do their entire catalog an injustice.

The depth and variety of material Jimmy P Brown and company have amassed over the years is quite amazing. That doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone who was a fan had to enjoy or love every release but at least it had to be recognized that there was genius to their musical madness.  Not to be boxed in or typecast as just a speed metal outfit, JPB often would make the distinction that Deliverance were SPEED METAL not a THRASH BAND. 

The variety of heavy styles from albums such as River Disturbance or Stay of Execution and Assimilation is quite extraordinary.  Not many artists have built up such a following while branching out into other styles of metal.  When their fourth album Stay of Execution was released I was profoundly puzzled at the time, “What the blazes is this???”  I considered myself a die hard fan but from that point I was lost.  2009 I had the opportunity to revisit (why so long? That is another story for another time!)  I revisited a lot of the missed catalog and found gem after gem, my favorite being River Disturbance.  Point being life changes and what moves us and reaches deep into our soul musically does as well.

So with that being said let’s focus on their recent albeit final release entitled Hear What I Say!  If indeed this is the final Deliverance album than it’s an exceptional way to say goodbye to the loyal fan base.  Is it heavy? Yes just as heavy as any of the previously mentioned albums without reservation.

Annals of Subterfuge pays complete homage the big D’s true speed metal period and an homage it is!! The drumming is some of the finest along a brilliant melody and riff package that just crushes ones senses into pulp. Speed metal at its finest!!  Angst delivers a strong Testament’esque feel with a fabulous groove until a brilliant side step break hits and I can see the windmills and headbangers going berserk!!

Hope Lies Beyond is an epic song that soars above the clouds with a memorable melody.  The lead guitar work of Mike Phillips is wonderful.  This track is a mood piece that relishes in its dynamics and Jimmy pours out his heart. However I found that the following song being the albums musical apex, Detox is a butt kicking track that thrives on its own violence.  The riff is sheer 90’s brilliance and as it devolves into a Marilyn Manson or Rammstein like romp that digs into your brain and will have you hitting replay for YEARS to come! 

Nude starts with some excellent rhythmic percussion from Jayson Sherlock and drives this sledgehammer full speed ahead.  No it’s not a speed metal song, but the force of this composition with its multi layered arrangements (straight out of River or Camelot) is pure 70’s worship.  Passing delves into a full tilt metal song that would’ve been comfortable on their previous release As Above So Below or even Stay of Execution.
A Perfect Sky is a pure acoustic track that maintains the feel and passion of every album released before (except perhaps Assimilation).  A pseudo old school Queensryche feel emanates as a point of reference but this track is pure Deliverance.  Thank you JPB II.

Where Eagles Dare is a cover of the 1983 track from Iron Maiden’s Piece of Mind and a great cover it is. The musicianship is superb and is a perfect tribute to perhaps the most influential heavy metal band of all time.  The lyrics are based on the thriller staring Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton.  One of my favorite Maiden tracks ever and this version is exceptional.  Brutal guitars and head smashing drums that should make Maiden proud.

I really found that the production elements are very strong, the guitar tones are brutal and the drums sound fabulous. The vocals are processed but the effect works perfectly. Jimmy’s vocal is still strong and is not hampered by this processing. 

As a quick aside if anyone complains that this album isn’t “heavy enough for them” please just take your pouty lip and go home!! Certainly everyone is entitled to their opinion but not to point of ad nauseum. Not every old school D track was a barn burner, even many of their heavier songs were mid tempo (Slay The Wicked or 23 come immediately to mind).  This album reeks of world class songwriting.  Not simply a rehash of what came before but a culmination of a career without parody. 

Hear What I Say! Is one of the best albums released this year.  Fans of heavy metal will want to grab this one.  Leather jackets aren’t optional and neither is the heartfelt appreciation that this writer has for Deliverance and their willingness to allow us on their journey through life. Roxx Records has a monster on its hands! This album is nearly a 10……  9.5 axes……

9.5 axes  (9 axes posted... i don't know how to put a 1/2 guitar!)
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Monday, December 9, 2013


27 years after their debut album Bloodgood is back and continues to show why they’re one of the greatest Christian Metal/Hard Rock bands of all time.  Dangerously Close is the title of their Kickstarter Fan Funded opus.  The time between their releases (All Stand Together their previous was released in 1991) aside Dangerously Close is the perfect picking up point from where they left off all those years ago.

At times during their heyday it seemed that Bloodgood was trying to find its musical voice, were they heavy? Or perhaps they’re more melodic?  Each album seemed to stretch them in a different direction but as a fan it left one in the dark a bit because you just weren’t sure which Bloodgood would arrive.

Make no mistake this is the album that fans have been clamoring for.  This offering is a nearly perfect mix of melody which plenty of crunching guitar that drives the narrative along.  Dangerously Close will have old timers (like myself) breaking out in adulation but also should appeal to younger fans.  In comparison to their other albums its heavy as say Out of The Darkness but with better production and the quality of the songwriting is far superior.

Speaking of songwriting there are some nice elements that have added depth to their sound. Child on Earth with its Middle Eastern vibe and melody line caught me completely by surprise. This tune is sure to be a fan favorite and should be considered an immediate classic within the Bloodgood cannon. Heavy and moody with a great bass breakdown and shredding guitar by Oz Fox, it transported me away much like Zeppelins Kashmir.

The video track Lamb of God starts things off in grand fashion with a romp. Run the Race ploughs through melodic radio ground without losing its edge. I Will continues that middle eastern feel as it segues into an ethereal metal journey that is so uplifting you can’t help but smile and worship the One who made all things.  Bread Alone picks up the pace a bit with its hooky melody line and is one of those musical left turns with a rather staccato like rhythm structure.

Pray drives along at a mid-tempo pace that is just heavy but also allows the band to branch off into various melodic episodes. I Can Hold On threw me for a loop the first time or so through because it starts off sounding rather pedestrian almost CCM like but it builds and builds until a furious crescendo of power is reached.  One’s sense of patience is rewarded with a strong payoff.  Run The Race features a riff that is a pure ode to the era in which Bloodgood the band was born, a pure 80’s gem.

Father Father is a real radio track with its semi-ballad feel and dynamics.  This left turn has a strong bluesy feel that allows Les to shine (not that he hasn’t already done that!).  Les’s vocal throughout this album is a testament to a professional who has honed his instrument and treated it with great care. His control is world class as is his range.  While on the topic of performances it must be said that Paul Jackson is one of the most underrated guitar players out there. His feel and sense of melody is stellar, not too mention to songwriting prowess.

What should I say about Paul's compadre Oz Fox that hasn’t already been said over the years?  His guitar playing is top drawer, but perhaps one of the things he has brought to this album (his first as a member of Bloodgood) is his backup vocals. During several tracks his vocal is a great compliment to Les. Kevin Whistler’s drumming provides a solid bed rock that all the other elements were able to build on. Whistler’s technique and style complement the songs perfectly.

Michael Bloodgood has always had a great bass tone and this album is no different. Deep rich with the right fixation of treble so as to cut through the musical mirth, he pushes the rhythm section without being overbearing.

Man in the Middle and In the Trenches excel with excellent melodies and strong dynamics. Crush Me is an all acoustic track that is full of passion and heartfelt angst, it’s a prayer and one I can relate to.

Lyrically this is some of the most heartfelt and deeply biblical material that I’ve heard in along time. Yes it’s blatant but without being simplistic, which is the bane of a lot of Christian Metal.  I appreciated this refreshing and thoughtful approach which can only benefit one's own spiritual growth.

Dangerously Close is a great disc that deserves to be heard and experienced.  It’s a herald of hope the that offers the path to peace. Perhaps a live show from the WCSL Studios in California with full internet streaming will be in the offing so those of us who would love to see them live again (Bloodgood never disappoints live, one of the best!) will have that opportunity.

So grab your copy of one of the best albums released in 2013!!

9 axes
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Monday, November 25, 2013


Bride has always been one of those artists that people either love ‘em or hate ‘em.  In the beginning it was due to the music and at times abrasive vocals of lead singer Dale Thompson, now its theology.  Well I’m not focused theology here but on music. 

Retroactive Records has reissued the Bride The Lost Reels set and for many of us that is cause for rejoicing!  I missed the original issues back some 10 - 15 years ago now but have heard a lot of great things about them. Personally I’m all for digging up treasures that never appeared on officially released albums.  Sometimes the producers “produce out” the energy that made the songs great in a live setting.

With Bride that would be have a travesty because musically Bride has always been about the ENERGY that defined their sound.  If you’ve ever seen them live you’ll know exactly what I speak of, passionate, driving and mesmerizing. My first experience was in 1988 when they made their first trek to the West Coast and played the second HIS Festival.  We eagerly awaited their arrival of Dale and company and didn’t leave disappointed. They blew us away.

The Lost Reels Volume 1 is a 20 song affair that was originally part of the M8 double disc set with a disc of Matrix tracks (Bride’s original name was Matrix).  These twenty tracks are an amalgam of songs that didn’t quite fit for one reason or another on other Bride albums. There are some gems here (Pyramid comes immediately to mind) all remastered for greater clarity and frequency response.

The Lost Reels Volume 2 is a 14 song offering with demo tracks from the Star Song/Pure Metal years, Scarecrow Messiah, Snakes in the Playground and Kinetic Faith.  This disc is chock full of hits in their original form.  At times I wondered how these original tunes were crafted into the familiar melodies we all know and love.  Everybody Knows My Name is included here in its embryonic form closer to the Kinetic Faith version not the superior End of An Age version.  Hired Gun is great in any version and this rough demo shows why this is a classic piece of metal history. 

From the lyrics to the performance, Dez Dickerson had a lot to mold and help craft together, after all that is part of a producer’s job.  Scarecrow rocks here as well and for a bonus Retroactive was able to add Bride’s cover of Steve Taylor’s We Don’t Need Know Colour Code from the REX Steve Taylor compilation.

The Lost Reels Volume 3 contains demo tracks recorded for The Jesus Experience album.  Yet of the 11 songs recorded nine of them have didn’t appear on that album!! For the uninitiated it just shows how much work goes into songwriting and crafting a collection of songs for a release.  Many of the songs here definitely have a ‘modern’ edge to them but are well crafted and memorable.  The twelfth track Alive was originally included on the Heaven’s Metal Hard Music Compilation of which only 1000 copies were printed.

All three releases have been remastered by J Powell at Steinhaus and have again done a masterful job.  There is great clarity amongst all three releases and while the term ‘demo’ is used to describe many of the songs on these albums the quality is vastly superior to what one would expect from ‘demo’ tracks. No they aren’t completed but they were not recorded on a tape recorder in a garage. Many were recorded in studio with DAT (digital audio tape) directly or using a 32 channel mixing board.

Fans of Bride should be jumping for joy as these add a completed chapter to one of the long term purveyors of metal with a Christian point of view. A box set would’ve been nice but financially prohibitive.  Fans of Stryper, Bloodgood would enjoy these albums as well.  Grab your copy of these updated gems before they disappear again.

Fans of Bride this is a must buy so a 9 axe review…..

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013


While on the subject of black metal or unblack or sorrow metal or just extreme metal sometime back I received the latest from Hortor.  Entitled Dios De Dioses (God of gods) this 2013 release is full on musical extremism.  Hailing from Mexico, Hortor has been around since 2003

Decked out in corpse paint and creating enough guitar driven whimsy to ignite a firestorm this release is sure to please.  I found this more reminiscent of death metal than black metal. With a focus on melodies and the songs themselves if you’re looking for atmosphere you might want to look elsewhere. For this listener I focus on songs and melodies and production values.

The production is done well with good separation and solid upfront guitars that aren’t lost somewhere.  The drums are prominent and quality courtesy of Michael Cook. For those not in the know Cook drums for A Hill to Die Upon and contributed a blistering performance to this album.

Azmaveth offers up solid extreme vocals throughout while just rocketing on the guitar.  There aren’t any keyboards (piano yes) on this release but there are parts with classical guitars and the occasional woodwind. 

I found this to be an enjoyable release, albeit this form of metal isn’t my favorite.  Grave Declaration might reach my cd player first but none the less this album by Hortor was a bit of a surprise in good way.

Solid extreme music (in Spanish btw) which exalts the Lord Jesus Christ. Bombworks Records has delievered a sledgehammer of release.  Make no mistake this is the real deal and for fans of blackened death metal this album is a must.

7 axes
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Armath Sargon has been around quite a while releasing extreme metal (black or unblack whichever you would prefer) for quite sometime. If my information is correct since 2002 I believe, well this release from Sanctus Gladius entitled When Love is Dead is not a new album but a reissue.

Originally this was a limited issue of 300 copies via CDR when it was first released in 2011.  However those limitations are gone with this release.

This is not just a reissue, but has been completely remixed and remastered by the artist himself. I can’t attest to the differences between the releases but the sound quality of this particular release is pretty good by black metal standards.  It still seems to capture the sound and atmosphere of old Emperor and Dark Throne.

Those in the know have indicated to me that black metal is more about the ‘atmosphere’ than actual melodies to sing along (or scream which ever you prefer). In that case When Love is Dead has accomplished that as the atmosphere created here is one of a dark stormy knight amidst a blizzard in the Carpathian Mountains while traveling on a lonely trail by horseback.  While perhaps being chased by Riders in Black.

There are some solid tracks Casting the Spirits Away Pt. VI and Massive Termination of Souls come to mind. No these aren’t popcorn tracks but songs with daring melodies amidst the musical turmoil, which means you won’t be singing any choruses but perhaps humming a melody or two after these compositions reach their zenith.

As with all of Armath Sargon’s material the lyrics are bold in proclaiming the deity of Jesus Christ. One item of note which is not meant to be a footnote is upon request of the band the bands proceeds will go to the ministry work of Pastor Bob and the homeless ministry in Nashville.

Fans of Armath Sargon’s will want to grab this release and enjoy a new vision of a previously released work. Corpse paint is optional by the way…. 

7 axes
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