Sunday, September 22, 2013


Gideon’s Army was a San Francisco Bay Area based rock/hard rock band dating back to the 70’s.  Warriors of Love was originally released in 1985. Retroactive Records has been able to remaster and re-release this lost and forgotten gem of Christian Music. Perhaps with one of the most iconic covers in the history of the genre.

Perhaps it’s my loss that I never had a chance to see Gideon’s Army in concert during the 80’s.  I don’t remember them ever playing clubs but primarily performed as a prison ministry and I’m sure there were church concerts as well but alas I guess I wouldn’t be able to connect.

That all being said Warriors of Love is solid album of 80’s infused Bay Area rock/hard rock. Trending ground similar to later Jefferson Starship, Journey and more commercialized Night Ranger. Hooks are abundant as are the keyboards and synthesized sounds that permeate this release, yet they take a back seat to the guitar driven solos throughout.

With easily accessible  and immediately memorable songs such as Moment by Moment, Runaway and Backsliding Brother it’s a wonder why this group wasn’t signed to one of the major Christian labels back in the day. Another of the great mysteries in my mind that continues to baffle as to why almost none of the SF Bay Area bands were ever signed (save for Veil of Ashes).

The title track itself is a precursor of the power ballad but strikes with more energy then most of their later contemporaries.  This is a strong song that demands a repeat play right after listening, and I’m not a ballad guy at all. A few quirky pop moments appear in the form of No Fun and Video complete with drummer Jerry Anderson playing Simmons drums.

Recorded in Hayward’s Master track Studio (if memory serves correctly. The same place Soldier would record their classic Babylon tape) there is reverb a plenty but that was the sound at the time. Once again the genius of J Powell at Steinhaus has breathed fresh life into a recording that has accepted the infusion of clarity well and is better for it.

Thanks to Dave Johnson who tipped Retroactive Records about Gideon’s Army desire to see this material reissued. I for one am glad that its here and now we can enjoy it for posterity. Fans of 80’s rock n roll will want to add this solid slab of rock to their musical library.

8 axes
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Vengeance Rising’s Human Sacrifice is the greatest Christian Thrash Metal album ever recorded. I realize it’s been said before and more than once by me.  However not only was it the first of its kind but the reality is, it was (and still is) an epic release!

            Roxx Records has undertaken a special release in time for this landmarks 25th anniversary.  A full on picture disc limited to only 300 pressed!! Whenever I hear the magic words “only so many pressed” I get nervous because I know that many of you, like me, are collectors who really want the coolest stuff and believe me this is one of the COOLEST!! There are some other goodies that come with this including picks, stickers.

 J Powell at Steinhaus remastered this slab of metal history specifically for vinyl and man does it sound good. The warmth is there with full lower end without sacrificing clarity.  J Powell has an unbelievable ability to make so many of these older releases sound as vital and powerful as ever.  The guitars of Larry Farkas and Doug Thieme on I Love Hating Evil sound just as loud as ever, perhaps even more intense.  Roger Martins bombastic bass delivers the goods on Fill This Place With Blood and Burn with a rich and pulsating dynamic power. Glenn Mancaruso’s drums sound as full and dynamic as ever with a little more punch in the kick drum.

            Revisiting this album in depth after so long is just a reminder to me of what Christian metal was like back in 1987 (a year before this albums release). There was nothing! And I mean nothing in Christian music that competed with the Slayers, Metallica’s or Megadeth’s of the world (let alone the Dark Angel’s or Kreator’s). When people thought of Christian Metal they thought of Stryper and Calling on You or Honestly. Not exactly bang yer head start a pit type stuff.

            Living in the San Francisco bay area during that time I longed for an album I could share with my non Christian friends that was heavy and brutal.  I’d seen VR twice in Southern California and I knew these guys were the real deal. Not only were they one of the tightest bands I’d ever seen, but they MOVED and totally thrashed on stage. It was incredible as I never saw Slayer do that or Metallica or Megadeth (or Testament or Forbidden Evil or Death Angel.)

            When this album came out on Intense in the late summer of 1988 (I bought mine from vocalist Roger Martinez, right out of the box at the beginning of second HIS Festival) it just blew everyone away. I mean everyone; this wasn’t a rehash of old Metallica riffs or a piece of sonic dog doo. This was WORLD CLASS THRASH METAL that was more over the top then most of their secular counter parts.

The ominous intro to White Throne, a pile driving tour de force that is Beheaded, the chunky bob and weave of Mulligan’s Stew, the sonic cacophony that is the instrumental Ascension (which they brought on stage a full group of acrobatic skateboarders at C-Stone in 1990 or was it 89?).

 Human Sacrifice started a movement that was brewing under the surface in Christian music. It stretched the boundaries about a million miles about what defined “Christian” music, let alone metal. These guys did not make a dime for their efforts but instead left a legacy that continues to this day. Every extreme metal act out there with a Christian worldview owes their gratitude to the trail blazers in this genre and like Resurrection Band; Vengeance Rising has that mantle placed on them.

Grab a piece of Christian Metal history and pick up this fabulous picture disc. You won’t regret it.

10 axes (the album itself is a classic)
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Sunday, September 15, 2013


Deuteronomium is back with a bulldozer of an album. This latest release is entitled The Amen and it hits like a semi truck. Their early material to me was such a treat, describing it as ‘death and roll.’  Heavy duty rock n roll infused death metal riffs, with the gargling glass vocals of Miika Partala.  At times almost feeling groovy yet never swaying completely away from death metal.

Their last album Deathbed Poetry was full on death metal, except clean vocals were used to the disappointment of some (but not this reviewer). That release also saw very little of the rock n roll vibe of earlier releases. The Amen takes a big swig of that earlier death n roll vibe and just crushes it out.

Dead Man Dancing opens this disc and it simply rules. The guitars blast away and the vibe just grabs you, moving into In the Midst of Lions is another strong mix of death metal with a pseudo groove rock n roll. The riffs are strong and deliver the strength of a cement truck (are you getting the idea this is a heavy platter of metal goodness??)

Jehovah Sabaoth is one of the faster paced tracks and demands your attention. You can just see the windmills and hair flying, but lyrically this bit of metal whimsy is a praise track.  A haunting metal melody of the lower keys is present that adds a particularly ominous feeling to the entire proceeding.

Of note is also that many of the tracks fall into that classic Deuteronomium time frame of 2 – 3 ½ minutes. Yeah there are some tracks that are longer (Hymn of a Lost) stretches out to over eight minutes! But for the most part Deuteronomium hits it hard and fast with out losing the listener in a wash of musical carnage.

With a tight production that favors the guitars in a solid package, each instrument has place in the mix with a powerful rhythm section that carries the freight. The aforementioned Hymn for example is perfect example of that strong arm drumming by Janne Jussi Kontoniemi, his kick drum plows the road ahead.  The overall sound of this release is exceptional.

Lyrically this album defines the nature of a Christian Death Metal act, or as they would say “Death Metal with LIFE!”  Jesus is praised and God is honored with the content of each song, check out Psalm 117 for a quick example. Understand this is a world class release that will have metal heads world wide raising their fists and banging their heads with joy.

Finland’s Deuteronomium have done it again with a high quality release of world class metal music. Hard to imagine that they’ve been at this for twenty years but I could find no better way to celebrate that anniversary than with an album such as this. Grab a copy of The Amen and see you down front! T-shirts please!!

8 axes
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