The big buzz about this disc is that it was a recording project of Caesar Kalinowsky who produced lots of the items reviewed in this periodical including Vengeance Rising's Human Sacrifice. It also feature's Trouble guitaris Bruce Franklin. Unfortunately neither of those factors were enough to make this album endear itself to me. Frankly, there are some engaging lyrics and some crunchy guitar's, but I just don't get into it. Sorry. Anyway, at the end there is a long space and then someone comes on with a very overdone dramatic voice to read Psalm 51 from the Bible. This is obviously done as a polemic against the non-Christian Industrial band called Ministry (you know, they had an album called Psalm 51). --TE
GROMS "Ascension" (9 Tracks. 40:16. Arctic Serenades).
From Norway, home of many black metal bands, comes this supreme offering of heavy DeathThrash Metal. This heavy masterpiece is so killer I had to sit on pillows for a month--if you know what I mean. Ascension contains mid-speed death/thrash but counters the hard and heavy side with some classy slow grinding doom reminiscent of Candlemass. The vocals are brutal and gutteral. As a whole I'd say GROMS plays in the same vein as bands like Obituary, Samael, and so on. GROMS could easily have challenged any secular band--especially the ones from Norway. By the way, if you're wondering what GROMS stands for, it is an acronymn for God Rules Over My Soul. This disc is super rare and should be sought immediately at all costs--TE
Here is another classic Christian Metal album that needs to be re-issued on CD. It features Guy Ritter on vocals. You may remember him from early Tourniquet. And on guitar is none other than Dee Harrington who is best known for his awesome tracks on Saint's Too Late For Living. The music is an incredible blend of Classic Metal and Thrash back in it heydey. Vocally and musically they could be compared to Mercyful Fate. Someone please re-issue this one. --TE.
Horde "Helig Usvart" (12 Tracks. 40:32. Nuclear Blast)
There are many things about this disc that are meant to be offensive. That is, if you are a satanic black metal band. For instance, the person behind this disc calls himself Anonymous. This is most certainly meant as a jab at Euronymous. Euronymous was the bass player for Emperor who was killed by Varg Vikerns (a.k.a. at Count Grishnakh of Burzum). The producer is called "Unblack Mark" as opposed to Black Mark Records. Another offensive element is song titles like "Invert the Inverted Cross" and "Weak, Dying, Anti-Christ". A third element is the Norwegian title which I understand s a reference to a Norse mythological person. Most ironically, though, is that the music on this disc is far superior to most of the black metal releases it parodies. In fact, it blows most of them out of the water. Please understand, gentle reader, that this disc is meant to be a "slap in the face" to the rebellious punks who comprise the black metal mafia, or Inner Circle. Many Christians didn't even know what Black Metal was until this release came out. There is no way to prepare you for the music of Horde unless you are already familiar with black metal's high end, thin production, and high speed single note melodies. But suffice it to say that this disc is dripping with atmosphere. The most extreme Christian CD ever. -TE
I bought this demo off of Scott Albert at the 1993 IS Festival in Atlanta. This is a pre-Circle Of Dust straight ahead Thrash Metal tape. It is much like earlier Anthrax which isn't surprising since both bands are from New York. On this tape is the original version of "Senseless Abandon" which appears on the original Circle Of Dust album. I doubt this one will ever be re-issued but I think very highly of it. --TE.
Immortal Souls “Divine Winter”
If there is a Norwegian sound then there is definitely a Finnish sound as well. Though Finnish bands vary in style there is a somewhat definable set of characteristics that seem to fit a lot of them. For one thing, they seem to focus more on classic metal guitar styles and song structures than their Norwegian brothers. They tend to be more melodic as well. I think this is an appropriate way to describe the sound of Immortal Souls. These four songs, “Snow Soul”, “Divine Wintertime”, “Morning Mist”, and “Christ Mass” have the characteristics described above. Fans of earlier Amorphis and Sentenced alike will find themselves liking these tunes, though they have growling vocals like those of Carcass (England). I also think that Immortal Souls would be a great opening act for Deuteronomium as they share a similar musical style. Production is crisp and one can assume that much time was put into the recording and production.
Mordecai “Through the Woods, Towards the Dawn”
In contrast to Immortal Souls, Mordecai have a true Black Metal sound. When I first heard these tracks I had to remind myself that I was listening to a Christian band and not Emperor or Old Man’s Child. It seems obvious to me from the song titles and the cover art that Mordecai intend to be associated with the aforementioned bands. The cover looks much like the same style of painting as Emperor’s “In The Nightside Eclipse”. The sound is much like Old Man’s Child from the “Pagan Prosperity” album and somewhat like Emperor, though less chaotic and more controlled. These four tracks (“Infinity of Creation”, “Exhortation”, “Dawn Eternal” and “The Last Winter”) will leave you speechless. Oh, yes; the nearest Christian metal comparison would be Antestor. Once again, note the crisp production.
Manu and company have got to be pleased with the results of this disc. If these two bands were not singing for Christ they’d be on Century Media or some similar label.
This E.P. from Jesus Freaks is noticeably similar to many of the early greats in Thrash, i.e. Metallica, Megadeth, and T.T. Quick. Other comparisons, for you youngsters, early Deliverance and Saint. If you like good solid thrash, you'll dig this one. -TE
Jesus Freaks "Jesus Freaks" (14 Tracks. 56:06. Narrowpath)
The 3 years between recording projects were fertile ones for Eric Peterson and co. One may be inclined to ask the question: Can a band go through changes in personnel and musical style and still maintain their intensity? Well, despite line-up changes Jesus Freaks sound stronger on this full-length album than on their debut E.P. Gone is the thrash style, in is a more post-industrial/new Metallica sound. Fans of Deliverance's Learn album take note, the music here has that same driving feel with some really catchy riffs. You'll be struggling to sit still while listening to this one. The only downside is the muddy production. Of the improvements the band has made, most notable is Peterson's smoother vocal delivery. He has a sort of singing/speaking voice (sprechgesang for you music experts) which sounds really good. It really compliments the music here. As the artwork suggests, this is sort of a working man's metal album, musically speaking. But lyrically it appears to be a thinking man's album. Here's another area where the guys have made strides. --TE
Jet Circus "Step On It" (10 Tracks. . Wonderland)
It would be easy to classify this as arena rock. It should be noted, however, that although Terry Haw and Ez Gomer were members of Leviticus previous to this release, there is much more to this than just party music. (I have always felt that Swedish bands are musically superior to most bands from other countries. This is certainly true here). The incredible guitar and bass work on this album will surely bring to mind such musicians as Steve Vai and Billy Sheehan. Let me tell you, this is one of the best Pop Metal releases ever made. Finally, you wouldn't have know they used a drum machine on this album if they hadn't said so. --TE.
King James "The Fall" (10 Tracks. 41:58. VIVA)
This album, without having heard the first one, demonstrates a very tight band. The guitar tone is as mean and heavy as Metallica's Load album. Though the music is not as ostentatious as some of the earlier Whitecross material you can still recognize the Rex Carroll sound. But let's not be one dimensional. The vocals here are very pleasing. Singer Jimi Bennett carries himself like a Don Dokken. Imagine Scott Wenzell losing the nasal sound and imitating Ken Tamplin. That's pretty accurate. The lyrics are somewhat cliche-ish but not nearly as much as a Petra album. The real highlight on this disc, though is the killer sound. Especially good is the song "Pale Beyond The Door" with its driving rhythm and classical guitar (nylon string) solo. 90's Metal that doesn't bore. --TE
Klank "Still Suffering" (10 Tracks. 43:03)
Klank is made up of Darren Diolosa of Circle of Dust/Argyle Park and backed up by Scott Albert. Whereas Scott does the writing and singing in COD, Darren does most of the writing and sings lead in Klank. That's about the main difference. Musically this could be a third Circle Of Dust album. It is way cool. Present are the tight, heavy guitars, solid rhythm section, aggressive vocals, clever lyrics . . Klank has it all. What else do I need to say. These guys constitute the best of Industrial Metal, Christian or otherwise. I must warn you that some sensitive people will have trouble with the lyrics. There are many difficult issues dealt with and they are written from more than one point of view. Let me recommend reading the kIss section at the beginning. I also recommend you consult the Book of Psalms where similar perjorative language is used. One other note: I have seen these guys in concert many times and will testify that they are incredibly gifted. As a band they are very tight. --TE
Kohllapse "Kohllapse" (9 Tracks. 43:51. Self)
The music on this disc is best described as Progressive Metal. Some may want to use the word Gothic but I'm not convinced. Maybe we should call it Ethereal Metal. Of the comparisons I've read so far I am most in agreement with the Tiamat comparison. This disc has a very similar sound and feel to Tiamat's Clouds album and somewhat to the Wild Honey album. Another comparison--though this one is not one of my favorites--is Anathema ala The Silent Enigma or Pentecost III. Finally, I'm sure there is some justification in the Pink Floyd comparison but I'm not into PF and wouldn't know for sure. In contrast to this, I am in total disagreement with the comparison to Trouble. I have all of their albums and have been listening to them for 11 years and I hear no similarities. Those of you who want a Christian Metal group to compare this to let me give you the closest comparisons I can think of. Here goes: Paramaecium, Schaliach (to a lesser degree), Virgin Black (a lot), and the song "Time" on Deliverance's Learn album. The subject matter on this album is very much in line of what you would expect on an epic/progressive metal album: pain, comfort, serenity. And there is one little surprise on track seven, "An End To Pain" which is an all out black metal song in the vein of Dark Throne or Emperor (another of the comparisons). Otherwise it's really hard for me to describe this one to you. Let's just say that I really like this disc. --TE