Music Review: DELIVERANCE – The Subversive Kind

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deliverance - the subversive kindDELIVERANCE
The Subversive Kind
Roxx Records / 3 Frogz Records

So, it looks like I’m going to have to do a retraction on my review of Hear What I Say!, in which I mentioned that Jimmy P. Brown II declared it the final Deliverance album. This wasn’t hearsay (no pun intended); I listened to him say it on the As The Story Grows podcast back in 2015. I was fine with Hear What I Say! being the final chapter in the Deliverance saga — Jimmy had other musical projects, not to mention a family to focus on. But, it looks like the fans have once again convinced him to come out of retirement and record a new Deliverance album. Not that I’m complaining, mind you…it’s just that they ruined a perfectly good review.

I kid, I kid. Now, on to the album review…

For months leading up to the release of The Subversive Kind, the hype was that this was a return to the speed metal days. This was going to be the heaviest “D” album evar!!1! Yeah, okay. I wasn’t going to buy into anything until I had the album and was listening to it to make that kind of proclamation. Then those who got their pre-releases because they contributed to the funding were responding very enthusiastically, and my anticipation grew a bit. Then the lyric video for “The Black Hand” was released, and suddenly I’m wishing that the official release date wasn’t over a month away for me to download the pre-release I purchased from Amazon. Finally, the day has arrived, and I’ve been listening to it several times now. Was that wait worth the hype?


First thing to point out — besides the album cover being rather awesome-looking, there — is that the overall length of the album is only 31 minutes long. Which may sound like we’ve been short-changed, but us old-school MetalHeads (TM) know that this is actually a bit longer than the standard Slayer album in the 1980s. We knew how to cram an hour’s worth of METAL into half-an-hour back then, let me tell you.

It’s the same here with The Subversive Kind: From the opening track “Bring ‘Em Down”, we’re welcomed with a tight and heavy riff that breaks into a fast-paced bridge and an infectious solo. And that is what we get with the entirety of the album — heavy, tight riffs and hooks, thrash rhythms making for some of the tastiest Deliverance cuts that recall the heavier bits from Here What I Say!.

The question still remains, though: Is The Subversive Kind a return to the classic thrash and speed metal days of the first three releases? Well, no. Not really. The thing to remember about Deliverance releases is that each album has their own distinct personality; the same goes with The Subversive Kind. It sticks to the speed and thrash, but infuses the songs with a modern take that Jimmy is really good with. Each song has its own distinct awesomeness to them, and given the top-notch production, makes this a good, solid release front-to-back.

Of course, I bought my copy as a download from Amazon. There are also the requisite CD and limited edition vinyl releases for you physical media types. Regardless of your preference, The Subversive Kind is another fantastic METAL release from Deliverance. I recommend you check it out if for some reason you haven’t as of yet.


This Is My Shocked And Appalled Face…

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NecRoSarX Chronicles Header
Hey, everyone! Stryper is set to release a new album this April! Here’s the album title and artwork!

stryper - god damn evil

It’s the follow-up to 2015’s excellent Fallen, and is the first to feature their new bass player, former Firehouse member Perry Richardson (that hair, man).

Yeah…nobody cares about that part. What seems to have everyone talking is that title they went with. Lots and lots of people within the various Christian rock and metal pages on Facebook are up in arms, loosing their minds over this album title. They’ve gone too far! seems to be the rallying cry.

Seriously, you are all acting like Stryper’s never courted controversy before.

Now, let’s just say, for sake of argument, all of these people flipping out over the album title (that’s some rather awesome artwork, I want to point out) have just came into being Stryper fans in the last decade or so, and aren’t familiar with their work from the first decade of Stryper’s existence. You know, pulling the ol’ “It was from before I was born” excuse. So, let’s review, shall we? History lesson time, kiddos…

Let’s start with their very first release, The Yellow And Black Attack

yellow and black attack 86

No no no, not that one. That’s the 1986 re-released version Enigma put out after realizing Stryper could make them money. No, I’m talking about the original 1984 release…

yellow and black attack

You see that? A mysterious, glowing blue hand guiding a bunch of ballistic missiles toward a shiny blue, yellow and black Earth. Presumably, that’s the hand of God, pointing thataway, with the warheads bearing the band members’ initials. As controversy goes, this isn’t really that big, but I’m sure it raised its share of eyebrows once it hit the record shops.

But, that’s merely peanuts compared to the big controversy surrounding this album…

to hell with the devil 2

That’s actually the censored version of the album, as the original artwork caused conservative Christians everywhere to loose their collective heads and demand the cover be changed to a black finish with just the band logo and title. Do you know what that original artwork was? Brace yourself, for the offensive original cover art was this…

to hell with the devil

Yep. Four ripped and swole angels, presumably modeled after the band members, tossing the Devil into the abyss of Hell. Yeah, I don’t get what the problem was, either. And frankly, even as I wasn’t a Christian when this came out, I was a bit more dubious about an alleged Christian band using that kind of album title to begin with.

But, then again, nothing could prepare anyone for what was to come a few years later…

against the law

Hoo, boy, was this the one that kicked the proverbial hornet nest. Where to begin? Well, there’s the title, Against The Law, which made everyone assume they were in rebellion now; then there was the modified band logo, which did away with the Bible reference, that seemed to reinforce the assumption that the band was now GOING SECULAR and TURNING AWAY FROM THE FAITH! As if that wasn’t enough, the band photos showed them wearing more black and — *gasp* — growing facial hair and toning down the big hair! They were just one step away from joining the Church of Satan by now.

In the end, these were all merely knee-jerk reactions to superficial surface-level judgments. Personally, my only question to Stryper about their new release is this:

Will it come with a vinyl edition?


Music Review: FIRST STRIKE – Rock Of Offense

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first strike rock of offenseFIRST STRIKE
Rock Of Offense
Exit Records

I recall the fist time I heard of the band First Strike: It was by way of the Heaven’s Metal Collection compilation, back in 1995. It featured their song “Loneliness Kills”, a song of which I wasn’t exactly enamored with when I first heard it. I pretty much forgot about the band soon after that. About fifteen years later, then come across their only release, Rock Of Offense on a used cassette, and figured spending a buck on this wouldn’t be that much of a big deal. Quite frankly, I paid a lot more for a lot worse.

Hailing from Sacramento, California and forming in 1979, First Strike was one of the earlier hard rock bands in the Christian rock scene that leaned more toward the Daniel Band rather than the Petra side of things. Meaning, they had a more raw guitar-based rock sound than a polished CCM Radio quality to them. Their first and only full-length release, Rock Of Offense, was released on Exit Records, the same label that featured The 77s. As a matter of fact, the album itself was produced by Mike Roe, the main guy behind The 77s.

And that, my wonderful freaks, is all the information I was able to glean from scouring all of my regular sources (and a few not-so-regular sources). That, and the observation that, considering the mainstays on Exit Records were The 77s, Charlie Peacock and Vector, having a band like First Strike on the label was a bit of a departure, style-wise. Not that it’s never happened before, mind you.

Anyway, as far as the music goes, it’s kind of a heavier take on the AOR rock that was prevalent at the time, like Triumph, Scorpions and Quiet Riot, with a bit more melodic style going on. There are tons of guitar hooks and rather good solos going on, and while the vocals aren’t exactly setting me on fire, they certainly do the job. The songs are mostly standard mid-paced hard rockers, with some exceptions; the best song on here, I have to say, is “Prisoner”, as it has a heavier, faster riff that is more of a NWOBHM cut that I enjoyed immensely.

Had you told me Rock Of Offense was released in the later part of the 1980s, or even 1990, I wouldn’t have batted an eye, as it’s sadly the standard practice to wait for three or four years after the fact for a CCM band to start utilizing the style. But, Rock Of Offense was released in 1984, right at the time when this type of hard rock was starting to rise on AOR stations. Plus, the lyrics on the album weren’t afraid to go the darker route, taking on topics that weren’t exactly touched upon in your standard CCM Radio affair. So, for that, First Strike gets major points.

Overall, I have to say that, once again, I went in not expecting much, but finding myself rather pleased with the outcome. From what I understand, Rock Of Offense was never given the proper CD re-release, only getting released initially on the vinyl record and cassette formats. The production is a bit on the raw side but still good, and the cover art is not in keeping with the music contained (really, it looks more like a rejected Duran Duran cover); if you find a copy of this, pick it up, as it’s well worth your time to check out.

Music Review: BEHOLD THE KINGDOM – The Eyes Of The Wicked Will Fail

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behold the kingdom - the eyes of the wicked will failBEHOLD THE KINGDOM
The Eyes Of The Wicked Will Fail
Rottweiler Records

I’ll start things off by stating that my first impression of Behold the Kingdom’s only full-length release — The Eyes of The Wicked Will Fail — was not too favorable. Or fair, if you want to get right down to it. When I first attempted to listen to this album, I was…in a mood, let’s just say. Thus, when I popped The Eyes Of The Wicked Will Fail into the NEKRON-7’s stereo system, and the opening intro track “We Are Zion (Prayer Of The Messiah)” began, I immediately shut it off, as I was not in the mood for another pretentious cheesy metalcore album. I didn’t get beyond the first track. But, now I have, and now I have to say, whoopee.

After getting past the intro track (still not a fan of that, by the way), the first proper track — “Restoration” — manages to lay one flat with some straight-forward face blasting deathcore. Turns out, the majority of the tracks on The Eyes Of The Wicked Will Fail feature the brutal blastbeats, heavy rhythms and some good riffs with your standard breakdowns, with some Djent influences here and there, and a couple of cuts verging into death metal territory. The standout cuts for me were “El Shaddai”, “Cut You Down” and “Prideful Demise”. “Fall Of The Philistines” is another short, 50-second instrumental with spoken word and an ambient movie soundtrack type music, while “The Valley Of Elah” has a good technical-sounding riff to end the album with.

Overall, I wasn’t expecting much with The Eyes Of The Wicked Will Fail, but I did find it more enjoyable than my low expectations were letting on. It was straight-up deathcore with some texture, rather than your standard paint-by-numbers metalcore I was expecting. Pity Behold The Kingdom has called it a day after releasing this one. Regardless, The Eyes Of The Wicked Will Fail is worth checking out.

Music Review: VARIOUS ARTISTS – Southern Extremities

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southern extremitiesVARIOUS ARTISTS
Southern Extremities: Brasilian Metal Compilation
Rowe Productions

Steve Rowe’s Rowe Productions label, over the years, has done much to help expose metal bands and artists from around the entire globe, through the release of the compilations that featured country and continental themes with the bands and artists chosen for them. It’s a pity that these compilations stopped after just a handful of them, as it would have been nifty to have every country and continent eventually represented on the label releases. As it stands, the last of these compilation series that Rowe Productions has released seems to be this particular one, Southern Extremities.

Focusing on the country of Brazil (which is part of the South American continent, in case you’re not up on your geography), this comp features four cuts each from three bands: Vollig Heilig (“Running Time”, “Looking For The Light”, “Don’t Stop The Music”, and “Revenge”, from their Looking For The Light release), Stauros (“Seaquake”, “The First Mile”, “Vital Blood” and “Dance Of The Seeds” from their Seaquake release), and Light Hammer (“Holy Wings”, “The Bright You’ll Know”, “Wake Up” and “Why Were You Born?”, from the Holy Wings demo). The band Vollig Heilig, I am pedantically obligated to point out, changed their name to Belica, and re-released Looking For The Light under that name a year after the original release. There, that’s something you know, now. And you can’t un-know it. Maniacal laughter.

On the plus side, Southern Extremities has the entirety of Light Hammer’s ultra-rare Holy Wings demo, albeit the tracks being out-of-sequence on here. Plus, the metal featured on here is pretty good, sticking with the general power metal style on each of the three entries on the band list. Which kind of brings me to my primary gripe about this compilation: Why just stick to power metal? With the previous compilations, there was a smorgasbord–a metaphorical cornucopia, if you will–of various metal styles, not just one. I know for a fact that Brazil (not to mention the entirety of South America in general) is one of the most fertile breeding grounds of all kinds of metal genres going — death metal, black metal, punk, hardcore, industrial…why just power metal? I feel a great opportunity to school us American metalheads on Brazilian metal beyond just Sepultura was sorely missed.

Personally, the reason I hold on to this compilation is because of the Light Hammer demo’s inclusion. As a cross-section of the Brazilian metal scene, you would do better by seeking out the Kingdom Of Metal Land compilations for a better variety.

Music Review: VARIOUS ARTISTS – Hard And Heavy From Down Under

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hard and heavy from down underVARIOUS ARTISTS
Hard And Heavy From Down Under
Rugged Records / Rowe Productions

So, since I finished up the reviews of the remaining Australian Metal Compilation releases, I felt it was appropriate to do a review of the American release that featured cuts from Australian metal bands, Hard And Heavy From Down Under. I’ve only seen this CD once, at a small family owned Christian bookstore tucked away inside one of the malls in Omaha, Nebraska back in the mid-1990s, within their paltry “Rock” section of the music wall. Hardly any information as to the history behind this release can be found, although there are entries on the standard music archive sites that I use for research.

Hard And Heavy From Down Under was essentially a collaboration between Rowe Productions, which released the original Australian Metal Compilations, and Rugged Records, which started up as a label in the early to mid-1990s as a place for old 80s metal bands to retire to, originally. Then it turned into yet another alternative type label, but that’s for a different rant. Anyway, from what I could gather, this was released here in America as an easier way for us Yank metalheads to check out the bands on the Rowe Production label from Australia, without paying exhuberant shipping prices.

The compilation starts with a cut from Mortification, “Peace In The Galaxy”, which first appeared on the EnVision EvAngeline release. Interesting way to kick things off. Next is two cuts from the band Cry Mercy, “Time To Go” and “D. A. M.”, both from their self-titled release. Then, it’s some death metal goodness from Metanoia — “Acute Obliteration” and “Dimensions Of Life” — both from the In Darkness Or In Light release. Then it’s the three-part Plague suite by Screams Of Chaos (“Fighting For Breath”, “The New World” and “Destroy The Plague”), which was lifted from the second Australian Metal Compilation release, Raise The Dead. But, that’s not all this compilation lifted from that release, as there are two cuts from Embodiment that were found only on the Raise The Dead compilation (“Loophole”, “Incorporate Body”). And we’re not done pilfering from the Australian Metal Compilation series, as these are followed by a couple of cuts from the hardcore band Callous that appeared on the third Australian Metal Compilation (“Hate” and “The Mind That Rots”), and then two cuts from Ethereal Scourge that appeared on the second Australian Metal Compilation (“Death Of Hades” and “Tombthroat”).

Back in the day, when I first encountered this CD, I held off purchasing it because, save for the two Cry Mercy cuts, I already had all the songs on here. And even though I didn’t have the two Cry Mercy songs, I did have one, “Shut Up And Listen”, from the first Australian Metal Compilation. I was good. Even now, I just picked it up as a curiosity. To me, this wasn’t that big of a deal, as I mentioned, I already had everything this sampler featured. But, if you’re not really up on the global Metal community, here’s a good crosscut of what used to be on the Rowe Productions label back in the day. Worth a look, if you can find one at a good discounted price somewhere.

Music Review: VARIOUS ARTISTS – Falling On Deaf Ears

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falling on deaf earsVARIOUS ARTISTS
Australian Metal Compilation IV: Falling On Deaf Ears
Rowe Productions

The final entry in the Australian Metal Compilation series from Rowe Productions, and here it’s more of a solid release than the previous one, in my not-so-humble opinion. This, too, was picked up at the same place I got the other three in the series, albeit not along with the others at the same time, mainly due to financial reasons. Anyway, here’s the rundown.

Falling On Deaf Ears kicks things off with the band that would go on with some notoriety themselves, Virgin Black, featuring three songs from their self-titled demo (“Veil Of Tears”, “Mother Of Cripples” and “Anthem”). Again, this being my first exposure to the band back in the day, I didn’t know what to make of them at the time. Fortunately, they’ve grown to be one of my favorites of the Gothic doom metal genres. Then, it’s two more cuts from the properly spelled Embodiment, “If God Exists” and “Meantime Saviours”. It looks like these were recorded specifically for this compilation, as I cannot find evidence that they appeared on an official release or demo beyond this. Fun Fact: Embodiment then changed their name to Embodiment 12:14 and went in a more hardcore direction than the death metal they played before. Anyway, next are three cuts from the band Teramaze, here in their more thrash metal leaning days, from the Doxology release (“Generation X”, “Ever Enhancing” and “Emancipator”). Then three cuts from death metal band Disparity — “The Truth”, “Manipulator”, and “Refine The Fire”. Again, this seems to be their only appearance anywhere, as there’s no other releases from the band listed that I can find. And finally, the collection ends with thrashy death metal band Rageflower, featuring three cuts from their Awaiting demo release (“Prepaid”, “Do Not Destroy” and “Set Apart”).

As a whole, Falling On Deaf Ears falls along with the second in this compilation series as far as frequent listens go. It’s pretty solid with the metal on here, but really the big selling point is the first appearance of Virgin Black outside of Australia.

Sadly, this was to be the last in the rather solid series of Australian metal compilations from Rowe Productions. It may have been due to Steve Rowe getting diagnosed with cancer around this time. While there have been other contenental-centric compilation releases also on the label, they too have dried up. Either way, if you can find this, pick it up and enjoy some rare exports.

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