Sunday, February 17, 2013


Born Twice Records, if you’re not already familiar, is a division of Retroactive Records with one purpose; to reissue Classic Jesus Music releases primarily prior to 1982. With that time frame caveat you might wonder if there was a lot of hard driving Christian Metal/Hard Rock released back then and you’d be surprised to know that there are several releases.

Enter Stronghold with their 1982 album, Fortress Rock. Originally released on a small Canadian label called Tunesmith (who also released some of the early Barnabas albums) this is an album that I used to hear about for YEARS! I mean that. When I first started listening to Christian rock which was 1983/84 this album was already out of print and impossible to find. However the name would come up from time to time and my question would always be, "What do they sound like?"

Well here I hold this reissue in my hand and it’s quite good. Even though Stronghold (originally from New York) issued this album in 1982 it feels more like an early to mid 1970’s hard rock album. Musically at times I found myself thinking of Blue Oyster Cult (another product of New York!), not ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’ but Seven Screaming Diz Busters, Astronomy or Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll. The arrangements and song structures had the same feel and power to these ears.

Some reviews claim a comparison with early Judas Priest (only their first album Rocka Rolla comes close) or Black Sabbath (?). The production values are actually quite well done for an early 80’s release, better than some of the more well known Christian albums issued at that time. Lyrically there is no mistake as to what they stand for, this is Jesus music remember?

J Powell at Steinhaus again does some master wizardry behind the mastering controls and helps to bring this release to life. Some nice reflections by drummer Jay Molina and a few cool photos are includes in the 6 panel digipak. 

The songs themselves are what you’d expect from a band of this time period, not written directly for commercial radio play. Fortress Rock is gritty and driving with a tinge of a prog feel at times, but mostly heavy and moody. This is heavier than Daniel Band or Jerusalem, if you’re a fan of 70’s hard rock this album is a must.

7 Axes
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Anonymous said...

This is a cool release.I actually have the original cassette tape of this,but haven't thought about these guys for years

Anonymous said...

I had this on vinyl... there was a really cool intro to a song that was "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" that would have made Martin Luther proud...