Music Review: RESURRECTION BAND – Rainbow’s End

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resurrection band - rainbow's endRESURRECTION BAND
Rainbow’s End
Star Song
1979

Resurrection Band’s second release continued on in the heavy rock n’ roll style that they went with on their first studio release, which may have ended up being both a blessing and a curse simultaneously. For whatever reason, the label that took a chance on them on their first album, decided to drop the band after this release. I can’t really find any official reason why they were dropped; maybe it was a change of personnel at Star Song Records that decided they didn’t want such a radical sounding rock band on the label (wild-eyed speculation, as they would release the third Petra album on that label the same year…though it could be argued that Petra was less a “rock” band at that time, but I digress), maybe they got too many complaints from the normals because of the genuine bluesy hard rock style that evoked comparisons to Led Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane, and Canned Heat. Maybe Star Song wasn’t as satisfied with the quality of the album as the band was. I don’t know. Again, this is wild-eyed speculation on my part. Point is, after releasing Rainbow’s End, the band suddenly found themselves looking for another label.

As for the album itself, Rainbow’s End turned out to be a good, solid follow-up to their debut release. If there was a question of quality, maybe it has something to do with the kind-of thin production on this, but keep in mind Rainbow’s End was recorded on a small Christian label using late seventies technology. But, trust me when I say that the band makes up for that minor shortcoming in some very gritty, very passionate hard rock n’ roll.

Ten tracks are contained overall, with eight of them being some very tasty guitar-driven classic hard rock (“Midnight Son”, “Strongman”, “Afrikaans”, “Skyline”, “Rainbow’s End”, “Sacrifice Of Love”, “The Wolfsong” and “Everytime It Rains”) and two ballads (“Paint A Picture” and “Concert For A Queen”), the music is, without a doubt, a genuine rock album played by musicians that know what they’re doing, injecting an authenticity into a sea of superficial falseness. This is also the beginning of the band injecting politically-motivated lyrics, challenging the Christian listeners to examine our motivations as believers and putting the “love your neighbor” thing into practice. It’s probably what contributed to their sudden loss of a record label.

So, overall, as a follow-up to arguably one of the classic releases in Christian rock, Rainbow’s End really did take it to the next level with both the music and the message, daring to go beyond the standard Happy Christian Fun lyrics and delving into some rather heavy and dark themes. This was re-released on the band’s own Grrr Records in 2007, but I would recommend finding this on vinyl, as I would wager it would sound fantastic in its original format. Gads, I sound all hipster-y now.

Music Review: AMERICAN MADE – Against The Flow

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Music Review_ AMERICAN MADE - Against The FlowAMERICAN MADE
Against The Flow
KMG Records
1999

The thing is, I know for certain I’ve already listened to and reviewed this particular album years ago. One could say, over a decade ago. Back when I was maintaining a LiveJournal (before the site decided to make us all sit through a pointless ad before allowing us to make our posts, which is one of the reasons why you’re not reading this on LiveJournal now), I remember picking up a cheap copy of Against The Flow from the late and lamented RadRockers store I would frequent back in the day, along with its follow-up Red (the review of which I managed to retain, for some reason), listening to them both a couple of times, then popped out a review for each and called it a day on American Made. But now, here we are, having the archives of my reviews over the decade been moved over to this biggity-blog for now, I seem to have misplaced the original review for Against The Flow. And since my odd bit of OCD won’t allow that oversight to continue on, I found myself having to once again listen to that album and write a new review, as the original has been lost forever. And let me tell you, that was something I was not looking forward to.

This time around, though, in the interest of providing a bit of back story to the item I’m about to, for lack of a better word, review, American Made has its roots in that tried and true way that many a band have come to be: the key members all met at a Christian summer camp. Two brothers who were into hardcore punk and a hip-hop enthusiast, for whatever reason, decided to start jamming together and blending the two styles, essentially throwing genres together at a wall and seeing what sticks. They found they gelled together enough to begin performing together (along with a bass player) under the name Against The Flow, but then changed their name to American Made, and recorded their first album which they titled Against The Flow (see what they did, there?), which was released as the first original recording on the KMG Records label.

You may have detected a less-than-enthusiastic vibe with my review so far. That’s because I’m still rather sore at spending $2 for a copy of Against The Flow, money that could have gone to a couple of tacos from Taco Bell. And in case you’re wondering, no. I am not letting the fact that I had to re-listen to the album color my review of it. I am nothing if not professional in my amateur pursuits as an online pseudo-journalist, after all.

The music on Against The Flow can be described as 2/3rds Pop Punk, and 1/3rd Miscellaneous. Keeping in mind that the popularity of Pop Punk (or “Mall Punk”, whatever you wanna call it) was beginning to wane a bit by the time Against The Flow was released, this is nevertheless full of the that style of music, with the tracks. However, when it comes to the “Miscellaneous” part of the songs, that’s where I found the band actually sounding rather decent. Not that I have anything against Pop Punk in general; it’s just that the band here has demonstrated a versatility that went beyond just the sum of their genre pigeonholing. Like on “Kick It”, they have a classic Suicidal Tendencies vibe which I rather enjoyed. “Against The Flow” has a 311/Sublime style, heavy melded with a hip-hop rhythm which is decent. The one titled “Rap Interlude” is just that, featuring an acoustic guitar and rhyming that I rather dug. “Nate” is a good heavy rap/rock song, and “How We Roll” was atmospheric with a nice Middle Eastern vibe with some more rap/rock styling. I should point out that “Enough Is Enough”, while falling into the Pop Punk style, has a darker feel than the other happy-go-peppy stuff that’s standard, so that one is a definite stand-out itself.

Overall, having given this another listen after all of these years, I do admit that there are more bright spots on here than initially back when I originally did the first review. It does have some good production, and as I mentioned their best bits were when they were going beyond the regular Pop Punk style. However, there’s more Pop Punk here than otherwise. And the Otherwise stuff isn’t really my style overall. But, I’m just a grizzled old \,,/METALHEAD\,,/ who happens to dabble a bit with other genres. I like what I like, I’m saying. And I’m still “meh” about Against The Flow, but not as vehemently as I was over 15 years ago when I first listened to it.

Music Review: ADMONISH – Den Yttersta Tiden

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Music Review ADMONISH - Den Yttersta TidenADMONISH
Den Yttersta Tiden
Independent
2015

I’ve written about Swedish Black Metal band Admonish before, as I took the bass-ackwards route to reviewing their discography by writing a review of their second EP release Insnarjd back in 2014-ish. It’s taken me a while to get to reviewing their first EP release, Den Yttersta Tiden; there’s no rhyme or reason to that, just now getting around to it. Also, I should point out that, since that time, I’ve discovered that Admonish has its own Wikipedia page, which is downright fascinating with the history of the band and such. Anyway, on to the review, shall we?

Despite having formed in 1994 and being active since then, it wasn’t until 2005 when they released this three-song EP–Den Yttersta Tiden–following a show at Sweden’s Club 666. I cannot tell you how tickled I am upon discovering that. The music on the EP is of the old school Black Metal variety–furious riffs, blastbeats, chilling shriek vocals, tempered at times with some mid-paced interludes, atmospheric and somber undertones. There are some acoustic instruments and some regular singing mixed in–on the last track, “Var Inte Radd”, the regular singing and the black metal vocals do a kind of duet–giving a bit more texture to the standard Black Metal assault.

Overall, Den Yttersta Tiden is a good sample of Black Metal with some somber and atmospheric undertones. The production is good, and while not groundbreaking, it’s a good, albeit brief, listen.

Music Review: ABATED MASS OF FLESH – Brutal Death

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abated mass of flesh - brutal deathABATED MASS OF FLESH
Brutal Death
Rottweiler Records
2013

In 2013, Tennessee-based deathcore outfit Abated Mass Of Flesh released their second EP on the Rottweiler Records label, entitled Brutal Death. Clocking in at 18 minutes, Brutal Death continues on in the “BR00TAL” deathcore style that their first release brought forth, your basic mid-paced chunky death metal riffs, backed-up septic tank style vocals, no solos, , some blastbeats and some movie clips thrown in here and there. In other words, your standard serviceable slab of basic deathcore, with not much deviation therein, which has the effect of things getting rather monotonous and stale mid-way through. And there are only seven tracks on here. The production is good, though, so that’s a plus mark there. Also, at no time do they venture into the whole “pig squeal” vocal territory. They come close on the track “Iniquitous Decimation”, but they don’t, so another plus in their favor.

Really, I can’t find much to talk about Brutal Death, other than it’s a decent bit of grinding deathcore brutality that kind of gets stale after a bit. It’s definitely not bad, as I’ve heard worse from the genre; but my attention began to wander, and for an EP length that isn’t even 20 minutes long, that’s not exactly working in favor of relistenability for me.

Music Review: The BLESSED – Remember

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blessed- rememberThe BLESSED
Remember
Independent
2016

So, there I was, scrolling through my friends feed on my Facebook page, when I came across a recent post by the Metal Resource blog, posting an interview they did with the Russian band The Blessed (formerly Cradle Of God). The associated pic intrigued me, as they seemed to be doing their best Metalocalypse Dethklok pose, I went ahead and read the article, which lead me to purchasing their album Remember from Bandcamp to listen to, and BY UNCLE JERRY’S BRISTLING BEARD, THIS IS A FANTASTIC AND AWESOME ALBUM I AM SO GLAD I STUMBLED UPON THIS OW MY NECK…

*ahem* Sorry. I let my enthusiasm get the best of me, here. I get rather excited when I discover a hidden gem like this, and want to share.

First off, about the band, it seems they’re pretty animate and straight forward in that interview I referenced that they don’t claim to be a Christian band, per se, and from the sounds of it, it may actually be one member that would proclaim the faith. Either way, it’s obvious given the song titles and the lyrics themselves that, this is perhaps the most Christian non-Christian metal band that I’ve come across. If this is a troll by the band, then I salute you all. And now that we’re past that bit, on to the music, shall we?

From the opening salvo of “Children Of God”, through to the ending track “Arise From The Dead”, our earholes are treated to some superb melodic death metal, peppered liberally with black metal and with a pinch of folk metal and doom at times. For nearly fifty minutes, a blend of blastbeats, heavy riffs and dark atmospheric METAL assaults us, and leaves you with a massive grin on your face after everything is said and done.

So far, Remember is their only release, and is available as a digital release on Bandcamp. I would urge you to check them out and treat your ears to their music. Fantastic stuff, this.

Music Review: DEATH THERAPY – The Storm Before The Calm

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death therapy storm before calmDEATH THERAPY
The Storm Before The Calm
Solid State Records
2017

Death Therapy is the solo-ish project of former Becoming The Archetype bassist/vocalist Jason Wisdom. He started writing and recording under Death Therapy in 2015, and released an EP demo that can be found on Bandcamp, and then released this full-length album, The Storm Before The Calm, on Solid State Records earlier this year.

There, now that I have the preliminary stuff out of the way…

Holy expletive of your choice, this album is great. I had first heard of it being a thing due to Jason Wisdom’s interview about the project on the As The Story Grows podcast, where some previews of some of the songs were played. What I had heard blew me away, and I immediately wanted to know when the album was going to be released. It wasn’t until the end of February, but I had done a pre-order (something I rarely do), and when the day it was released came around, I immediately loaded it up into my media player, and had it blaring through the speakers. And believe me when I say, the wait was well worth it.

The best I can describe the music on The Storm Before The Calm is very aggressive industrial hybrid metal. Industrial because of the electronic hooks and sampling; hybrid because the only actual instruments used are a heavily effects distorted bass and a drum set for a thick and insane rhythm base. Mix in vocals that range from intense growl shouts to dark melodic singing, and the result is an incredibly infectious brand of dark and heavy goodness that is different and completely awesome. The diversity of the styles that come together on this, especially with the EBM side of things.

Look, about the only gripe I have with this release is that it ends far too soon, and I find myself wanting more than just what’s on there. Here’s hoping there’s more in the future. For now, do yourselves a favor and grab yourselves a copy of The Storm Before The Calm and enjoy immensely.

Music Review: DEMON HUNTER – Outlive

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demon hunter outliveDEMON HUNTER
Outlive
Solid State Records
2017

After fifteen years since their self-titled debut album, it’s no denying that Demon Hunter has evolved and forged ahead with its signature sound, rather than continue on with the same-old and remain stagnant. To put it bluntly, they are a far cry from the Slipknot style of metal, complete with Good Cop/Bad Cop vocals. I joke that they have transformed into more of a HIM-style metal band, but that’s really what has happened, fifteen years later.

Outlive, the band’s newest release as of this writing, showcases the band as getting better with age. While the previous release was rather hit-or-miss for me, I found Outlive to be a more solid listening experience. While the majority of the cuts could be tagged as “radio friendly” and melodic, the songs are heavier and darker than your standard modern pop metal song. Ryan Clark does favor the melodic singing more over the angry growly shouts, and he sounds much more comfortable with that, giving the songs a texture and depth that manage to haunt you while the heaviness sticks in your head.

Make no mistake, though: Outlive is multi-layered and very textured \,,/METAL\,,/, comfortable with treading familiar ground while not being afraid to experiment with touches of death metal, groove metal, dark gothic and straight-ahead rock and a bit of industrial for some texturing. Even then, they still manage to throw in a classic deathcore aggression like “Jesus Wept” and “Cold Blood” to sandblast your face off.

Overall, while I wasn’t sure what I was going to be getting into before listening to Outlive (the pre-release video for the single “Died In My Sleep” didn’t exactly set my world afire), I still purchased the download on Amazon the day of its release. After playing it back-to-front a couple of times, I have to say that it is a very solid release, more so than the previous.

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