Music Review: DELIVERANCE – Camelot-In-Smithereens

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DELIVERANCE - Camelot-In-Smithereens
DELIVERANCE
Camelot-In-Smithereens
Intense
1996

After leaving Intense for the first time back in 1993, and then having their contract with Brainstorm go poof after the debacle involving that label’s stability, Jimmy Brown signed back on to Intense (which was going through its own financial death throws itself) to release the last Deliverance album, Camelot-In-Smithereens. Well, maybe not the very last, as Brown regrouped and released Assimilation in 2001, but Camelot-In-Smithereens was definitely the last Deliverance album of a dying era. Originally conceived as a concept album, the original title was to be The Book Ends, and told the story of Lindsey, a lady who became a Christian, got involved with a church that had some shady dealings in the background, gets pregnant by one of the leaders, and then is ousted because of this (only the leader isn’t…go figure), she dies in childbirth, and the boyfriend she left after becoming a Christian raises the baby himself out of love for both the child and his former love…it was all very potent stuff. And then the label cut out all the between-song narrative, not to mention some key songs, and now the album doesn’t make much sense outside of an article Jimmy Brown published a few years ago (and is still floating around on the net) explaining everything that went on with making the record. Anyhoo…

The music is more classic metal than past Deliverance releases. Jimmy sings with his Eric Clayton-Meets-David Bowie vocals to good effect…the man has pipes. Speaking of Bowie, the song “Beauty And The Beast” is covered here. Just thought you’d like to know. Lyrically, the music is very sad, very introspective, going on existential but still from a Christian perspective, albeit a Christian who’s questioning everything. It took me a while to get into this, and I still don’t listen to Camelot very much as far as Deliverance albums go, but still a good darkly made metal album. Think of this as the final chapter on Deliverance before the Epilogue was written…

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Music Review: DELIVERANCE – Assimilation

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DELIVERANCE - Assimilation
DELIVERANCE
Assimilation
Indie Dream
2001

I find myself amused at some of the Christian metal boards, where the usual mindless chatter on this classic band or that always end up with this question- “Will the next album sound like [enter classic past album title here]”, or “Will [enter band name here] go back to their [enter genre] style?” And we always get so cheesed off when said band doesn’t release something to our specifications, right? As the case is with Deliverance, it’s always, “Will they go back to their speed metal / thrash roots?” and “Will their next album sound like Weapons Of Our Warfare?”

To any Deliverance fan reading this: Weapons Of Our Warfare’s been done already. I for one prefer the later stuff Jimmy Brown did, the darker, introspective and existential Deliverance of Learn and Stay Of Execution. Sure, the speed’s fine for a trip down amnesia lane, but speed kills. So does getting trapped in an artistic rut.

With Assimilation, the music is a natural progression of a band that called it quits after 1996’s Camelot-In-Smithereens, and then came back one more time in 2001. Namely, it’s still dark metal that the band was exploring before imploding, but the music’s gotten darker with a heavy dose of EBM thrown in. Lyrically, it’s just as dark, like it was a companion piece to Camelot-In-Smithereens. Though not too many people liked this when it came out, I enjoy it immensely. Then again, I’m weird that way. I also like the cover artwork, especially how the new “Deliverance Cross” that usually dots the “i” in the band’s moniker is bursting out of the old one, like a rebirth of sorts. Same here. Think of Assimilation as Deliverance’s swan song, a changeover to what Jimmy’s now doing with Fearful Symmetry…

Music Review: DELIVERANCE – As Above ~ So Below

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DELIVERANCE - As Above ~ So Below
DELIVERANCE
As Above – So Below
Retroactive
2007

A scant few minutes ago, my CD player shut off, after playing the last track on As Above…So Below, the long-anticipated new release from Jimmy Brown’s long-thought-dormant band Deliverance. For months since he let slip that the band was recording a new album, message boards were all a-twitter as to what the music was going to be like. As expected, there were those of us from the old school who were still holding on to that small shred of hope that we would be graced with a return to the speed metal days of yor. Still others were hoping that the new disc would feature the delicious dark metal style that made Stay Of Execution and Learn such classics. And I’m pretty sure there were one or two who hoped for the industrial-metal-goth infusion of Assimilation.

Well, at least two of the three groups can rejoice. For As Above…So Below, in my not-so-humble opinion, strikes a near-perfect balance between Deliverance’s thrash and dark metal eras. Starting off with the instrumental piece “Legum Servi Sumus Ut Liberi Esse Possimus”, the listener is treated to a blend of heavy, chunky and aggressive guitars and rhythms, some of the tightest drumming and bass playing I’ve heard in a long time, and of course Jimmy Brown’s dark, melodic vocals that go from emotionally lush to incredibly harsh and all points in between. This has got to be the heaviest, most aggressive Deliverance album I’ve ever heard. The production is clean and tight, yet not so polished as to take away from the edge.

Lyrically…well, let me preface that I’ve read some concerns over the decision to name the album As Above…So Below, as apparently the phrase has connections to witchcraft and magick. This is compounded with the use of “so mote it be” in the title song, which is used in spell incantations and the like. Personally, I don’t see what the problem is, really. Not that I’m soft on the occult, or have compromised my beliefs. I just feel that whatever power Satan has stems from how much we give him. Meaning, if I were to think that certain words or phrases, just because someone who practices occult stuff uses them, conjures up the devil just by saying them, then I’m giving too much credit to that fallen traitor. Satan was defeated by Jesus, and he has no more power over us than what we give him.

That out of the way, like his previous Deliverance albums after 1991, the songs on As Above…So Below have a personal ecclesiastical feel to them. Jimmy can really turn a phrase nicely, and the songs here are a testament to that talent of his. I especially like the opening lines on “Return To Form”:

A tour de force, the old school returns to form
Sounds to me like an overdose of chloroform
I’ve read beliefs and values that bend the scene
A fine line between ideals and obscene
The people say they want the past come born again
Regurgitate the truth from lies, see how it bends
Plagiarize the greatest story ever told
Play the bluff on the cards to see who first folds

Wrapping things up, I feel that the wait for As Above…So Below was well worth it. I don’t think I’m exaggerating a bit when I say that this is perhaps the heaviest, most aggressive, and certainly the best post-modern Deliverance CD to have graced my hands.

Music Review: DELIVERANCE – A Decade Of Deliverance

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deliverance - a decade of deliverance
DELIVERANCE
A Decade Of Deliverance
Intense
1995

Deliverance can be noted as two separate bands, really: the early Speed Metal Deliverance, and the Gloomy Art Metal Deliverance. The progression from one to the other was subtle, but noticeable.

‘A Decade Of Deliverance’, the “greatest hits” package from 1995, documents this evolution of this pioneering band. The CD features tunes from the “speed metal” era (“Victory”, “No Time”, “The Call”, “Flesh & Blood”, “This Present Darkness”, “After Forever”, “Prophet Of Idiocy”), the “gloomy art metal” phase (“Words To The. . .”, “Ramming Speed”, the live-in-studio version of “Stay Of Execution”, “Learn”, “Desperate Cries”, “Sanctuary”), a previously unreleased tune foreshadowing the transition of the former to the later (“Rescue”, recorded during the ‘Weapons Of Our Warfare’ sessions in 1990), along with pictures and commentary on the songs by Deliverance’s main man, guitarist and vocalist Jimmy P. Brown III.

As a “best of” collection, ‘A Decade Of Deliverance’ is decent. Those of you who have heard of this band and wish to view a cross section of their work will benefit from getting this disc. Many fans (myself included) will say that this falls somewhat short. I would have, personally, liked to see maybe some live cuts, a couple of tunes from the ultra-rare ‘Greetings Of Death’ demo from way back in the day, maybe some alternate versions of songs (the polka version of “What A Joke”. . .hah!). Oh, well. Still a decent primer for those seeking to know something about this worthy metal band.

Music Review: DELIVERANCE – River Disturbance (Reissue)

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deliverance - river disturbance reissue
DELIVERANCE
River Disturbance (Reissue)
Retroactive Records
2007

Just to go ahead and give you a general idea of exactly how old your Uncle NecRo is: I remember when River Disturbance first was released, back in 1994. I was making my second attempt at college (failing miserably, alas), and wasn’t weeks away from being legal drinking age. I was perusing the rather pathetic “hard” section at the Christian bookstore inside the Sioux City mall, and noticed this new Deliverance release sitting there, fresh for the plucking. So I bought it on the spot. Because it was a Deliverance album. Had to support my boys, y’know. Sure, things were different — they were on a different label (Brainstorm, as opposed to Intense), the logo was different, and even the band’s look was different. The music wasn’t that big of a departure from the previous release; River Disturbance leaned a little more to the experimental side, but there were a few good cuts on there I could get into. And as far as I knew, the general consensus is that I’m the only one who actually liked the collaboration with 12th Tribe on there. But I digress…

Reading up on the history of this recording, it seemed that there were some problems getting this project out; all sorts of delays and stuff, until finally the label execs decided to release the album before Jimmy Brown could be satisfied with the end result. Consequently, River Disturbance had a couple of tracks missing, and what looked like a rushed cover artwork. Basically, Jimmy’s work of art remained unfinished for over 10 years. Until now.

Retroactive Records, a label that – among other things – seems bent on preserving the classics in Christian rock and metal, recently gave this lost classic a second lease on life, re-releasing the entire disc with better mastering, new CD booklet artwork inside and out, a demo track of the “lost” River Disturbance song “I Thought”, their cover of Steve Taylor’s “On The Fritz” that originally appeared on the tribute album I Predict A Clone, and in industrial remix of “Belltown”. Finally, there’s a 12-minute dissertation by Jimmy P. Brown himself on the saga of recording this highly underrated album.

Though not personally my favorite “dark metal” era Deliverance album (that would be Learn), River Disturbance was definitely ahead of its time, and deserved better treatment than what it initially got. Retroactive Records has gone above and beyond to rectify this. If you enjoy your “Big D” from Stay Of Execution and beyond, and missed out on River Disturbance back in the day, do yourself a favor and pick up this rerelease.

Music Review: DELIVERANCE – Live @ Cornerstone 2001

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DELIVERANCE - Live @ Cornerstone 2001
DELIVERANCE
Live @ Cornerstone 2001
M8 Records
2001

This was the band I would have given my left kidney to see live. I would have made it, had my car not broken down, hereby nixing my trip to Cornerstone 2001. Well, at least M8 / Magdalene records had the decency to release their set as part of the 80s Metal Retro Night series. Not the same as actually seeing the show, but close.

As a live CD, it comes off, as a live CD should- like you’re listening to the show. Basically, ‘Live At Cornerstone 2001’ is a greatest hits of sorts played live, as to be expected since this was a reunion show for Jimmy Brown and the boys. Actually a reformation show. After a brief introduction by (I’m assuming) Doug Van Pelt, the band launches into “Stay Of Execution”. After Jimmy introduces the current incarnation of his ensemble (welcome back, Manny Morales! Woo-hoo!), classics “No Time”, “Learn”, and “What A Joke” are offered up to the crowd. “Belltown” is the only song from the best-forgotten ‘River Disturbance’ days, then it’s on to “23”, “Weapons Of Our Warfare”, and the obligatory thank-you’s (including a chiding for those who don’t yet have a subscription to HM Magazine…I guess I’m evil then, huh?). “Victory”, “Words T! O The…” and personal favorite “Sanctuary” round out a fine live CD.

And now my petty, whiny complaints section. No “Slay The Wicked”, “Awake”, “Jehovah Jireh” or “Attack”? What about the other covers besides “Sanctuary” (“After Forever” and “Surrender” come to mind)? I guess I should be happy they didn’t play anything else from ‘River Disturbance’. All in all, a pretty decent live CD by a classic band that broke up again after this release. Drat.

Music Review: DELIVERANCE – River Disturbance

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deliverance - river disturbance
DELIVERANCE
River Disturbance
Brainstorm
1994

Most fans of Deliverance said one thing about ‘River Disturbance’ when it was released in ’94: “Why’d Jimmy cut his hair?” Another question was “What’s up with the zoot suits?” I asked both questions, along with, “Why’re they on Brainstorm records?” It was a valid question. Up until then, the legendary Deliverance made their home at Intense Records.

If anything, my feelings about ‘River Disturbance’ have been and are still quite mixed. Part of me (okay most of me) still long for the old speed metal Deliverance to re-emerge from the ashes. This CD still continues the “art metal” direction they went into during their last years of existence, with a heavier lean toward the “art” part than the “metal” part. To tell the truth, usually the only songs I listen to here are the opener “Belltown” and the duet with 12th Tribe on “A Little Sleep”. Other songs, like “After I Fell”, “River Disturbance”, “Map” and “You Still Smile” kind of grew on me as time went by. But I still find myself skipping around more often than actually listening to it. Not their best work, but not their worst.

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