Taker was one of the best unsigned Christian METAL bands of the 80’s. With the arranging and melody of say an Iron Maiden or Queensryche but with the ball busting rhythm section of Armored Saint or Judas Priest. Roxx Records has presented us with an anthology of material entitled It Is Finished.
When Taker first appeared on the musical radar in 1987 tastes were starting to swing toward a more commercial, poppy form of metal that was more radio friendly. While listening to this collection one must wonder what record execs were wondering back then, because Taker flows with melody and hooks galore. Instead we were given stuff like Tempest or Scarlet Red.
This fourteen track release features 10 tracks with four songs offered in different versions. Their original four song demo which just blew everyone away at the time of its release is up first and if the vocals of Kevin Potter don’t knock your socks off your dead. So much power and control it’s criminal that his vocal contributions aren’t better known and credited. Robert Bussey’s melodic guitar work is tremendous and his rhythm tone is pure metal.
The first four songs Open Your Heart, He is The Light, Yesterday Today and Forever, 11o’clock News scream of sheer metal power. Now I’m not writing about some screamo down tuned excuse of schlock, but quality crafted compositions that are memorable. That vocal at the end of He is The Light still gives me goose bumps; it would give Mike Lee or Bruce Dickenson a run for their money. Bussey’s guitar work on Open Your Heart shines like the proverbial oncoming train in a dark tunnel. Bassist Danny Wilkinson and drummer Charlie Osterhoudt lock together like welded pieces of steel. This demo was originally called the Matthew 11:12 demo.
Living by Faith appears twice, one being a live practice version that has wonderful sound quality. This practice session was in preparation for their support appearance on the first White Cross east coast tour. There is so much energy and drive here that it overshadows the studio version which appears later. This is the kind of gem I love to find, one that would be forever buried unless the artist was confident in the performance and to that end there should be no doubt. Potter’s vocal is simply unbelievable.
Look into His Eyes originally appeared on the White Throne Invasion tape. Good luck finding one! This version is pure old school American HEAVY METAL. Just amazing with the clarity that some remastering can do to help the quality. The guitar is heavy, loud and driving. Another find of incredible value that demands head bangers from all over just raise an open hand and bang thy head.
Two re-recorded versions of He is the Light and Open Your Heart appear here. These tracks along with Look into His Eyes were recorded for Image Records in late 1987. For a possible album release but alas nothing came of it. However they are here for our enjoyment today.
The next tracks Living by Faith, Yesterday Today and Forever are newly remastered versions of the tracks from the East Coast Metal compilation. Having played them back to back that would be my hunch and these tracks sound splendid. Ballsier and with more energy than I remember. Remastering does do wonders does it not?
Lastly their final EP entitled Blood appears here. At this point vocalist Kevin Potter had left and been replaced by Rob Kreiner. His vocal style was complementary to Potter’s just doesn’t resonate as well with me. The songs themselves almost feel more progressive in a Fates Warning, Crimson Glory fashion while still retaining their pure metal roots.
Sound quality throughout is really good, yet don’t expect it to sound like something recorded last week. The newly mastered versions are more than acceptable which is very surprising. Two thumbs up from me.
There was a limited bonus edition of 100 copies which included a bonus live disc. That issue has already sold out, so you’d better grab one of the standard issues, which I believe are also going to be printed in limited supply.
Fans of old school metal must get this release otherwise they’re gonna miss out on one of the surprise releases of 2014.