RADROCKERS REVIEW PAGE

The following reviews are some I’ve written which have been modified in Radrockers’ print catalog. You will notice that these are written differently from my usual reviews. That is because I am writing these as blurbs to help Radrockers sell the customer on the product.

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BARNABAS

Feel the Fire (8 tracks). 1984 +

Little Foxes (8 tracks). 1986. +

Artifacts and Relics Vol. II.

U.S. 2D

The second and third of the three Barnabas albums featuring Brian Belew’s shredding guitars. His playing is highly reminiscent of guitar greats like Randy Rhodes and early Eddie Van Halen. Mention should also be made of the awesome drumming and lyric writing by Kris Klingensmith, the dramatic vocals of Nancy Jo Mann, and the bass wizardry of Gary Mann. The mature songwriting and musicianship of the band by this time combined with their youthful vigor proved Barnabas to be one of the greatest Christian Metal bands of all time. After seventeen years Feel the Fire stills holds up as a metallic masterpiece. It features an inspiring three-song epic ("Prelude", "The Dream", and "Breathless Wonderment") as well as some blazing rockers ("Feel the Fire" and "Follow You Up"). To this day I cannot think of anything that comes near it. Definitely one of the top ten greatest Christian Metal albums of all time. Little Foxes came as a total surprise and was further hindered by internal problems within the group. What a shame too, because Little Foxes continued Barnabas’ tradition of over the top musicianship combined with clever lyrics. As with the previous albums Kris Klingensmith shines as a songwriter in the sentiment and tradition of the Old Testament prophets. Musically Little Foxes was more straight-forward and has an overall aggressiveness that is a notch above Approaching Light Speed and Feel the Fire as a whole. Whereas the former two combined the aggressiveness with progressive elements, Little Foxes just plain rocked. Especially good are "Gospel Maniac", "Auschwitz ‘87", and "China White". Of course, the progressive elements are there with "All Alone", a leftover tune from their earlier days. It’s a sad truth that this was Barnabas’ final release. But at least they went out in a blaze of glory. These M8 Gold Trim Collector’s Series discs are hand numbered and limited to 1500 copies and will go quickly.

BELIEVER

Extraction from Mortality (9 tracks. TT 41:45).

U.S. D

Believer, like Stryper, are one of the few Christian bands that disappeared about a decade ago but are still highly regarded in the secular media. Unlike many Christian Metal bands, Believer continuously garnered raving reviews in secular magazines and even toured once with well-known acts like Sacrifice and Bolt Thrower. Extraction from Mortality is the album that started it all. It is the most aggressive and Thrash oriented of Believer’s three albums. The production, the musicianship, the lyrics—everything—is just unbelievable. To this day, Believer remain one of Christian Metal’s highest points. If you missed out on this disc back in 1987 when it came out, you are in luck as it is now being reissued on M8’s Gold Trim Collector’s series. This limited edition pressing will only have 1500 copies and they are guaranteed to sell quickly. No self-respecting fan of Christian metal would pass on the opportunity to own it.

ETERNA

Papyrus (11 tracks. TT: 72:04).

BRAZIL

Eterna join Fabio Rocha’s Shining Star and Vollig Heilig as Brazil’s promising Christian classic/power metal scene. If it is any indication of their talent, Eterna have been signed to Italy’s Scarlet Records and is distributed all over Europe by SPV. On the one hand they play fast, but commercial classic/power metal like many German bands (e.g., Freedom Call or Gamma Ray). On the other hand they have a neoclassical flair like some Italian bands: Rhapsody and Edenbridge, for example. The excellent musicianship, tight song-structure, and powerful melodies will please even the most discriminating tastes in this genre. Also for fans of Boanerges, Nocturnal Rites, Wizard, and so on. 8 page booklet insert.

KEKEL

Embrace the Dead (8 tracks. 49:46)

INDONESIA

Kekel’s first release, Beyond the Glimpse of Dreams, came as a huge surprise—and a very pleasant one at that! Their mixture of harsh Black Metal mixed with occasional balladic parts and female vocals actually predates a lot of the same kind of stuff coming out of Norway today. But for the most part, Kekel’s music carries the harsh, blizzard style guitar riffing and dungeon vocals that bands like IMMORTAL and DARKTHRONE are famous for. Still, Kekel’s music bears traces of other influences such as the Gothenburg sound (IN FLAMES, ARCH ENEMY) and a smattering of doom. Fans of the first album will be glad to know that the band has remained faithful to their original sound and haven’t felt compelled to "progress", though the musicianship is stronger with the experience gained since the recording of the first album. Fans of bands like SLECHTVALK and ANTESTOR buy now or go to your graves full of regret!

LAMENT

Tears of a Leper (10 tracks. TT 51:59)

AUSTRALIA D

Hailing from Mexico City, Abel and Iram Gomez translate the plight of Christians in the world’s most populous city into ten tracks of atmospheric Death Metal. Originally called Beheaded, Lament’s particular brand of metal is charged with depth and emotion, but underlying it all is hope in God’s promises. Jeff Sheetz produced this particular disc adding a clear production and some jazzy guitar parts for variety. The cover painting by Troy Dunmire is actually a reworking of the original cover which later became the art for Metanoia’s Time to Die. This will likely be your last chance to own this one of a kind recording.

METANOIA

Don’t Walk Dead (13 tracks. TT 61:05)

AUSTRALIA D

On their second full-length release Metanoia slightly redirected their Death metal sound with a more groove oriented style. The massive stop-start riffing on many of these songs sound like heavy sledgehammers pounding large rocks into tiny little pebbles. But not a band to be pigeon-holed, Metanoia also use violins on "Reflections" as well as real singing! They even have choir on "Kneeling Before Your Throne". But for the most part, Yowie’s vocals range from the "Death grunt" to a Black metalish "shriek". The highlight on this disc include "Can You Feel It?", "Reflections", and the bizarre "Bonus Track". It has to be heard to be believed.

MORTIFICATION

Triumph of Mercy (9 tracks. TT 42:36)

AUSTRALIA D

Steve Rowe could not have chosen a more appropriate title for this album as it’s existence is a triumph in itself. It came after a two year absence because of Steve’s multiple near death experiences due to his leukemia treatments (he even underwent brain surgery). Whereas most bands collapse under the weight of much lighter circumstances, this situation only seems to have strengthened Steve’s resolve to rock for the Lord. The result of all this pain and suffering—which often yields great art!—was one of Mortification’s most aggressive and satisfying albums ever. Steve’s story is told both literally and figuratively in songs like "Visited by an Angel" and "Raw is the Stonewood Temple" and is beautifully illustrated with paintings by Troy Dunmire and Jayson Sherlock. Like the book of Job, Triumph of Mercy reminds us that God’s people are not immune to suffering. And like Job, Steve has looked into the yawning abyss of despair and lived to tell about it. Thankfully he has been able to distill this into his music and communicate it to the world on this disc.

NARNIA

Desert Land (9 tracks. TT 60:00)

SWEDEN D

Several years ago Narnia’s highly polished brand of Swedish classic metal caught the ear of Nuclear Blast president, Markus Staiger. Narnia’s sound is a hearty combination of old influences like DIO and URIAH HEAP crossed with more recent bands like NOCTURNAL RITES and HAMMERFALL. Fans of Christian metal bands like BOANERGES, HALLOWED and others will swoon over NARNIA. Desert Land being their third album, Narnia sound more confident than ever. Acclaimed guitarist Carl Johan Grimmark, who will be contributing to Saviour Machine’s Legend III, shreds and finesses his way through the nine awesome tracks while Christian Liljegren’s DIOesque voice enthralls listeners. Each tune gets into your soul and you’ll be singing them in your head all day. Desert Land promises to be a huge seller. And with this album Narnia may just get to tour the U.S. Finally, the 16 page insert features lyrics, band photos, and some stunningly beautiful paintings of Aslan. No doubt C.S. Lewis would be proud to have THIS band carry the name of his beloved fantasy world.

NECROMANCE

Tribulation Force (10 tracks. TT 50:18)

GERMANY D

On their third and finest work to date Necromance offers their listeners a happy medium between the gothic sounds of Undish and the industrial influence of Sanctum. Even so, Necromance’s music stands on its own. Undoubtedly inspired by the recent bestseller of the same name by Tim La Haye and Jerry Jenkins, Tribulation Force sets forth a musical form of apocalyptic calling the righteous to faithfulness in times of persecution. Like the apocalyptic literature of Scripture, this album forces us to choose sides in the battle once and for all. As before, the music oscillates between aggressive, driving guitar tunes and beautiful keyboard soundscapes. Necromance also occasionally throw in some heavy electronics reminiscent of Deitiphobia ("Tribulation Force" and "The Beast"). Featured once again are the gritty male vocals counterbalanced with the beautiful female vocals. The final product has got to be a real source of pride for the band and for Pleitegeier Records. 8 page, full color insert. Lyrics in German and English.

FABIO ROCHA’S SHINING STAR

Fatal Mistake (11 tracks. TT: 38:48).

BRAZIL

Fabio Rocha of Brazil has formed a band and recorded an album that rivals some of the more commercial European and North American classic/power metal bands. On this album you will find eleven very well composed, well-executed tracks reminiscent of Malmsteen and Narnia. Rocha’s guitar playing is hot, but he lets the playing accent the songs. In other words, these songs are real songs, not just soundtracks for guitar solos. Vocalist Nando Fernandes’ passionate performance perfectly compliments the music with a voice similar to Rob Rock or even Dio himself. Fans of secular acts like Tad Morose, Adagio, Andromeda, and the aforementioned Malmsteen, will immediately appreciate the quality of this music. Others who appreciate the musicianship of Christian bands like Narnia, Angelica, Eterna will also be impressed. 8 page booklet insert.

SACRAMENT

Testimony of Apocalypse (10 tracks). 1990+

Haunts of Violence (10 tracks. TT 48:52). 1992.

U.S. 2D

When Testimony of Apocalypse came out the Thrash scene was giving way to the Death Metal scene and bands like Testament, Slayer, and Forbidden were riding the crest of the popularity wave. If nothing else, Sacrament served as a Christian version of that Thrash/Death style. Songs like "Slave to Sin", "Hellfire Denied" and "Mortal Agony" still sound convincing today, especially with the return of Death Metal to cleaner production and a swing away from the Grind influence. If Testament today is enjoying a renewed interest in their music, then certainly Testimony of Apocalypse deserves to be rediscovered as well. With Haunts of Violence Sacrament had a new vocalist and were stripped down to one guitarist. But by this time the band had refined their sound to a more technical style of Death Metal. No doubt influenced by Believer and Tourniquet, Sacrament turned on the sophistication and to this day Haunts of Violence remains a musically complex album. Even so, here they sound more like a Swedish Death Metal band than an American one. Sadly, as with so many Christian bands, Sacrament could not hold together. Shortly after the release of this album the band broke up. Thankfully, these two classics will not be gone and forgotten as M8 is now reissuing them in a limited quantity of only 1000 copies. Most of their other re-issues have already sold out, so don’t hesitate on this one.

SONS OF THUNDER

Load, Aim, Fire (10 tracks. TT 49:09)

SWEDEN D

Sons of Thunder make a bold statement both lyrically and musically. They are a Swedish power metal band whose lyrics read like your Sunday morning praise choruses (e.g., "Worshipping Warriors", "Atomic Power Praise", "Exalt Him", and "Psalm 23"). Musically Sons of Thunder play a heavy groove-oriented form of Power that is fresh and exciting. Never dull, Load, Aim, Fire is full of cool riffs and surprises galore that make you want to you "mosh while you worship". Thanks to Christian Liljegren of Narnia for releasing this gem on his C.L. Music label. Other songs include the title tracks, "Jesus Viking", etc.

ULTIMATUM

Puppet of Destruction (10 tracks. TT 45:56)

U.S. D

While trendy bands come and go, Ultimatum have stuck to their guns. Their sound is influenced by the San Fransisco "Bay Sound" of the mid-1980’s (especially EXODUS) and German Power Metal acts like Accept. Many have noted, for instance, that Scott Waters sings a lot like Udo Dirkschneider (I would also include Bon Scott of AC/DC). Puppet of Destruction finds them coming into their own musically and improving upon their previous effort, Symphonic Extremities. Lyrically Ultimatum "keep it real" by emphasizing the message of the Gospel and pronouncing judgement upon sin. Musically the crisp production and extremely tight playing make this release a must have for fans of traditional metal. Includes impressive artwork, six page insert with lyrics and photos.

VARIOUS

Massive Frequency Overload (15 tracks. TT 71:12)

AUSTRALIA D

This compilation of Christian Metal bands from the U.S. chronicles a nearly forgotten era. Many of these bands never made it on a label while others have. Familiar names appear like Crimson Thorn, Slamcat, Ultimatum and so on. The music ranges from Classic Metal (Antithesis, Noiszgate), Death Metal (Corpse, Covenant), the particularly American Black Death Metal (Vindication, Amnos), and Punk Styles (Frank’s Enemy, S.O.G., Dead Pharsees). Of the bands mentioned, at least two, Antithesis and Faithbomb, are now making their way into the marketplace (Antithesis is on a secular label called Nightmare Records). Sadly, there were a few bands that deserved a label deal and never got their fair shake. Most notable is Covenant. This may be the only compact disc available with their excellent Death/Thrash sound. Also featured: Erase, Sovereign.

WARRIOR

The Code of Life (12 tracks. TT: ).

U.S.

Warrior exploded onto the American metal scene in 1985 with their seminal work, Fighting for the Earth, on MCA Records. Sixteen years and a couple albums later they are joined by renowned vocalist, Rob Rock (Angelica, Impelliteri, Rob Rock). Their sound is one half power metal (Accept, Loudness), and one half classic metal (Dio, Hammerfall). The Code of Life echoes themes both musically and lyrically of their earlier material, but here it takes on a more decidedly Christian flavor. This album has already sold well for Nuclear Blast around the world and now it is time for America’s Christian metal audience to experience this legendary band. Remember the old saying: "he who hesitates, loses".

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