Music Review: DERACINATION – Times Of Atrocity (2 CD Re-release)

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deracination times of atrocity 2 disc releaseDERACINATION
Times Of Atrocity(2 CD Re-release)
Dark Descent Records
2018

So, back in January of this year, I made mention in the review of the first Australian Metal Compilation that the seven-song demo that the one Deracination song was taken from needed to be given the re-release treatment, possibly along with their 1992 full-length, Times Of Atrocity. As a recap, I came across Times Of Atrocity back in 1995 at a used CD shop in Omaha, Nebraska. How that rare independently released album made it all the way to one of the last places you’d expect to find underground death metal from Australia, I’ve no idea. And while I never regretted snatching that rarity up, the one complaint I had was with the rather thin and low-volume mastering. For years, since several labels have been remastering and re-releasing properly demos and out of print releases, I’ve always hoped and prayed that both the full-length and the seven-song demo would be given that treatment.

Fortunately, soon after I posted the compilation review, a guy named Brad commented that, lo and behold, there has been a remaster and re-release of those two albums, and were available at Boone’s Overstock. Imagine my elation. Unfortunately, for some reason, there was a glitch that prevented me using my credit card to pick it up from that site. But, soon thereafter, copies of that 2-CD re-release became available at Christian Metal Distro, where I had nothing but great experiences ordering stuff from*. So, I did something I haven’t done in a very long time: I purchased a physical CD.

So, here we are. Finally. After eagerly popping this in the disc drive on my lappy, and giving both the discs a good spin or five, I can say I’m rather satisfied with how this turned out. The two-disc set comes with both the full-length Times Of Atrocity and the seven-song self-titled demo that came out in 1993 that was previously only available on cassette, along with demo versions of a couple of songs from the full-length. The mastering on Times Of Atrocity is markedly better than it was on the original release; it’s not what you would call pristine, but I don’t have to max out my volume level to feel the punch of the music. The quality on the self-titled demo is better sounding, again possibly because of the demo, but I never heard the demo itself beyond the one song on the aforementioned compilation. Point is, I now have the long out-of-print demo, and now my collection is complete.

But wait, that’s not all. Disc two contains the entirety of the Mosh For The Master demo release, back when the band went by the name Holy Rite and played thrash metal. Would you believe I actually have an MP3 rip of that cassette only demo? Yeah…this sounds far better. Which reminds me, I’m going to have to get around to reviewing that release soon, here.

Anyway, this 2-CD re-release seems like a major answer to prayer, had I not thought that this kind of thing would be a frivolous thing to pray for. Regardless, though, I am more than happy with the purchase, and for $13 for a double-disc release, I’m not complaining one bit. Well, this was limited to a small quantity, so if you’re planning on getting this, jump on it as soon as you possibly can. Recommended.

[* – again, I hasten to mention that I am in no way, shape or form on Christian Metal Distro’s payroll, nor am I endorsing them in any official capacity; just stating a fact, they’re a great place to get your metal fix without headaches…so far…]

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Music Review: DECAYED EXISTENCE – Eulogy

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decayed existence - eulogyDECAYED EXISTENCE
Eulogy
Rottweiler Records
2018

Quite recently, Rottweiler Records released the Eulogy EP by a band called Decayed Existence. As with the other bands and artists on the label’s roster, Rottweiler had been teasing this release for some time, and on the day of said release, I went ahead and purchased the download from Amazon, pretty much sight-unseen…in this case, sight-unheard. It was less than four bucks, so I figured why not? First, though, because I’m pedantic about finding out the details of the band that I’m going to listen to and review, let’s see what I can find out about Decayed Existence…

After a cursory search, the basics on the band is that they’re from California, had been a unit since 1990 (with a bit of a stint between 2000-2002 going by the name Desecrater), and have released several demos and EPs and a couple of full-lengths before landing with Rottweiler and releasing Eulogy. Having been in the Death Metal game for this long, surely they’ve honed their sound to something unique.

So now, the EP. Eulogy opens up with the title track, which is basically an instrumental intro of sorts, featuring sounds of rain and a tolling bell, with a riff fading in for a bit and then fading out again at the one-minute-eight-seconds mark. So, right off the bat, Eulogy is technically a three-song-with-an-intro track EP, instead of four. That’s not a complaint, mind you, just an observation. We move into the second track, “Poetry Of The Dead”, and we’re given a nice heavy, mid-paced Death Metal hook, some technical riffs and the use of synths as a means to create atmosphere. Pretty impressive, there. “Human Debris” continues on with the really good hook and riffs, this one being a bit darker with the atmosphere and featuring a fantastic technical guitar solo. The EP ends with “Cursed”, which hits you hard, fast and continuously with a brutal monster riff, a great solo and some interesting vocal effects.

Overall, I would have to once again hand it to Rottweiler Records for once again giving us some good, quality Death Metal. Eulogy was far more enjoyable than what I was expecting, and the quality of the metal here did make me want more than the three proper songs on here. Here’s looking forward to more in the future…mayhaps a full-length…anyway, recommended picking up as soon as possible.

Music Review: DELIVERANCE – The Subversive Kind

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deliverance - the subversive kindDELIVERANCE
The Subversive Kind
Roxx Records / 3 Frogz Records
2018

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?

Sure.

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.

Music Review: POOR OLD LU. – Mindsize

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poor old lu - mindsizePOOR OLD LU.
Mindsize
Alarma Records
1993

It’s probably not coming as much of a surprise to you that I would have something like Poor Old Lu. in my collection. Yes, I’m a metalhead, but it’s no secret that I’m known to branch out once in a while. Depends on the mood, really. And thus, this review of Poor Old Lu.’s first album, Mindsize.

For the express purpose of padding out this review (and in case you weren’t alive in the 90s): Poor Old Lu. was one of the more prominent bands to come from the big alternative music paradigm shift of the 1990s, forming in 1990 and going onto become one of the more respected bands from that era, at least in the Christian music culture. Taking their name from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, they released a couple of demos before catching the ear of Terry Taylor, who helped get them signed on to the Frontline Music Group, which then released the band’s first official release, Mindsize.

I personally discovered the existence of Poor Old Lu. back in college, on one of the radio promo samplers FMG sent me for the radio show I was doing. The song included on there was “Cruciality”, which came from Mindsize. I was impressed with the dreamy, yet darkly neo-psychadelic style of the song, and went ahead and got ahold of the full-length album on the strength of that song alone. Keep in mind, this was just before I got turned off to alternative music by all the alterna-jerks that started coming out of the woodwork. They were like hipsters of today, only they at least knew the proper usage of the word “irony”…at least until that Alanis Morissette song came out.

Listening to Mindsize now, the music on here still stands up after a couple of decades. It’s a refreshing blend of janglepop, psychadelic and retro alternative that manages to be dark yet dreamy at the same time, creating a sound you could close your eyes and get lost in without everything bleeding together into a jumbled mess. For what it is, Mindsize remains a solid front-to-back listen when I need something to chill out with once in a while. Is it a classic? Sure, why not? Recommended.

Music Review: FIRST STRIKE – Rock Of Offense

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first strike rock of offenseFIRST STRIKE
Rock Of Offense
Exit Records
1984

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
2011

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: BASH-N-THE CODE – Big Mouth

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bash n the code big mouhBASH-N-THE CODE
Big Mouth
Myrrh
1988

And so, we come to the second release from the group Bash-N-The Code. Yeah, I was putting this one off deliberately, as they’re really more of the kind of 80s pop that I didn’t really care for, even back in the 1980s. But, somehow I came into possession of their first two releases — both on vinyl, if you can believe that. And thus, I am beheld to my vow to review everything. Everything. And the voices won’t go away until I’ve reviewed Big Mouth.

Stop looking at me like that. Anyway…

One thing I will give Big Mouth is, it really does sound like a produce of the era it was made. Released in 1988 on the Myrrh label, the album kicks off with the upbeat keyboard pop rock tune “The B-I-B-L-E”, something that immediately brings to mind the band The Jets: All upbeat, big keyboard and guitar hooks, and bright poppy male and female vocals. As we progress through the release, though, there are some variations to the music, at least — while “You Are The One” continues with the upbeat pop variety, there are some mid-paced, somber cuts with “Righteous Dance”, “He Says” (which is total CCM Radio bait), and “Fall Down” (which is the “edgiest” song on here, featuring a heavier guitar riff); the title track “Big Mouth” has an extremely upbeat Rockabilly style going with a decent guitar solo (and a high cheese factor), while “Soon And Very Soon” takes on a faux Caribbean flavor, complete with a steel drum solo at the end. And of course, what 80s pop rock album is complete without the obligatory raise-your-hands-and-experience-the-feels BALLAD ALERT!? There are two: “Use This Child” and official album closer “We Will Magnify You Lord (I Will Call Upon The Lord)”. And, in case all of this wasn’t enough, there’s an extended remix of “You Are The One”, which amounts to adding in bits where it sounds like the song is having a stroke.

The production is pretty good on this record, and I will admit that there are some good guitar work interwoven into the music. Like with their first album, I get the feeling that Bash-N-The Code was more or less created as one of those Christian-alternative-to-secular-counterpart type bands, given the overt and oftentimes cheesy lyrics employed. Then again, cheese was one of the main ingredients to 80s pop. Overall, Big Mouth isn’t bad, per se, it’s just not my cup of cheese.

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