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.


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.

Music Review: HAND OF FIRE – Nuclear Sunrise

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Nuclear Sunrise
Rottweiler Records

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my extreme pleasure to announce that thrash metal is still very much alive and well and continues to bring a much-needed injection of high-octane speed to our dreary existence. Joining the ranks of the new wave of thrash metal* is Hand Of Fire.

Hailing from the Bay Area of San Francisco, California, the band released their debut album Nuclear Sunrise through Rottweiler records. The buildup to the release of this album was pretty big, with teaser updates constantly streaming in from the official Rottweiler Records Facebook page. I waited patiently leading up to the release of Nuclear Sunrise–my appetite whetted by the official video for “The Prophecy–so when it was officially released back in November, I purchased the album the day it came out. And let me tell you, I’m very pleased with the addition to my Metal Vaults.

Kicking off with what was supposed to be the original album title, “Let The Killings Begin” sets the pace for what is to come; namely, heavy blistering thrash metal goodness, full of monster hooks and riffs, blistering solos and soaring vocals, all done at a galloping, breathtaking pace that, if you listen to this in your vehicle like I do, will cause you to accidentally break a few speeding laws.

Look, about the only complaint I have with Nuclear Sunrise is that it is far too short. Clocking in at just a couple of minutes over half an hour, I was just getting warmed up. Well, such is the nature of thrash metal. Overall, though, this album needs to be in your collection, as this is highly recommended.

[*–that, sadly, is not an official title, like New Wave Of American Heavy Metal…but it should be, as I refuse to use “rethrash” to describe it]

Music Review: APOSTASY – The Seven Eyes Of God

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apostasy - the seven eyes of godAPOSTASY
The Seven Eyes Of God
Catacomb Records

Here we have yet another obscure cassette-only demo release from a band that completely escaped my attention back in the day, mainly because I was stuck with whatever the nearby record stores and Christian bookshops held for music. And when you’re a metalhead languishing in Eastern Nebraska in the mid-1990s, years before the internet was going to become a viable means of communication outside of your narrow sphere of existence, you either trust mail order through magazines, or hope that whatever passes as a record shop will have it, or will be willing to special order the thing. In that sense, I envy LA and New York music scenes. But, I digress.

Apostasy was allegedly one of the first black metal bands with Christian members to be formed in America, instead of Europe. Or Australia, natch. They hailed from Pueblo, Colorado, and released their only cassette demo The Seven Eyes Of God in 1994. I doubt I would have seen anything about the band or their demo outside of either Heaven’s Metal magazine, or one of the Christian Metal ‘Zines circulating at that time. Even now, the only information I can dredge up from the interwebs is their entry in the Metal Archives site.

This five-track demo of theirs was, as mentioned before, released in 1994. The music is listed on the Metal Archives site as “black metal”; I would qualify the music as that in the same way I would qualify the music on Death’s Scream Bloody Gore as “death metal”, in that it’s really more thrash metal with affected black metal type vocals. Which, given the period, was what the early 2nd Wave of black metal was, essentially aping Venom and making it more “extreme”. Of the five tracks, only three are full-fledged songs: “Eve Of Divinity”, “Destrier” [sic] and “Pagan Moon”. The first track, “Through The Gates Of Eternity…” and the last track, “Rebirth (Outro)” are both brief bits that work as atmospheric introduction and outros, respectively. The music in-between those two tracks are some decently played thrash/death style with black metal vocals, some interesting riffs going on.

Unfortunately, the major issue I have with this demo is the quality of the production. It’s very low-grade, there’s a very loud hiss that is rather prominent and distracting. Also–though I think this has less to do with the production and more to do with the fact that mine is a used copy–the songs muffle at points, and for all of the songs it sounds like the tape itself was eaten by the tape player (or a cat decided to play with it or something), and renders the songs extremely garbled at times, especially with the last three tracks. Especially on “Pagan Moon”, which is nigh unlistenable. Again, that’s probably not due to the production; but even counting that out, the production is rather cheep sounding and terrible, which is a pity as the songs are fairly decent otherwise. Kind of an old-school raw sound to them.

Music Review: DROP DEAD – Ending The Sadness

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drop dead - ending the sadnessDROP DEAD
Ending The Sadness

When you go digging hard enough, you come to realize that thrash metal in the CCM area wasn’t just a thing that didn’t happen until Intense Records was invented; no, I have to say that thrash metal was alive and well in the 1980s, and sometimes you wouldn’t know of a band unless you was great at tape and demo trading back in the day, or (like me) you happen to stumble upon something long after missing the peak time for good thrash metal from the era. As a for-instance, Drop Dead.

Drop Dead was a thrash metal band that hailed from Indianapolis, Indiana, between the years of 1987 to at least 1994, when they had the Death By Fusion compilation released. They may have broken up before that, as their final demo was released in 1990. I don’t know, not a lot of information could be gleaned from the interwebs as I was researching the band for this review.

Regardless, the focus of this review concerns Drop Dead’s first demo release, Ending The Sadness. This was the only release I was able to obtain from them, as even the aforementioned compilation CD is hard to find. I got it from a trade, in case you were wondering.

Ending The Sadness is a cassette-only demo that was released in 1988. And if there’s any contender for one of those remastering and proper re-releases through either Retroactive or Roxx Records, this is one of those that should be considered. Mainly because Ending The Sadness is a six track collection of some of the best kind of thrash metal: straight forward, furious, and hits you hard, fast and continually. The opening track “The Dawning” hits you right out of the gate with its furious thrash riff and shout style vocals, while pummeling you with its rhythmic attack. Title track “Ending The Sadness” then lulls you into a false sense of security with an acoustic opening interlude, then hooks your nose with a thrash attack that will sandblast your face off. “Fall Of The Deadly Fortress” is a great instrumental, fantastic riff; “The Revolution” goes with another acoustic opening that sounds a lot like the opening riff of “The Call Of Ktulu”, then it once again kicks you in the face with a great, meaty riff hook; “Escape Destruction” kicks off with a furious opening riff, then settles into a solid groove rhythm with a great solo; the demo ender “Doomsday” closes things with fantastic thrash metal goodness.

Overall, Ending The Sadness is a good, solid demo EP of raw and intense thrash metal, played very tight and furious. The production is a bit muffled, and there is a noticeable hiss on the tape, despite the Dolby Noise Reduction symbol on the tape cover; regardless, it’s still rather listenable and doesn’t effect my listening enjoyment whatsoever. Obviously. If you can find this, nab it and enjoy it. In the meantime, I shall do my darnedest to make others aware of this, and try to get ahold of any other of their two other demos that are floating around. Recommended.

Music Review: CONSECRATOR – Image Of Deception (2017)

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consecrator - image of deception 2017CONSECRATOR
Image Of Deception
Roxx Records

In my review of Bombworks Records’ 2004 release of the Consecrator collection Image Of Deception, I made mention of the impending re-release of the lost thrash metal classic through Roxx Records, with a much-needed remastering of the songs, new artwork and multiple formats to chose from. Well, that re-release is out now. So, then, is it worth the double-dip for those who already have it? And for those who have yet to discover this band, is Image Of Description worth a look-see?

To answer the later question first: Image Of Deception needs to be in your collection. If you’re a fan of thrash metal, yeah. Most definitely. If you want specifics, you can check out my review link above, there. As for the firmer question…well, I would have to say yes to that as well.

The music is fantastic. The remastering has breathed new life in the songs, and not just the cuts from the original 1992 Image Of Deception release. My copy of the album includes the 1990 demo; if you recall the original sound quality was rather poor (presuming you’ve already read the alluded to review at the link, up there)–here, the quality on those songs makes them sound pristine and fantastic, which is exactly what I was hoping for.

In short, even if you have the Bombworks release, this Roxx Records edition is the one to get. My copy was bought and downloaded through Amazon; if you’re more of a physical copy collector, they’re available through the Roxx site and various other venues to get your thrash metal fix. Highly recommended.

Music Review: CRIMSON THORN – Plagued

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crimson thorn - plaguedCRIMSON THORN

Once upon a time, two lads from Minnesota met at a Barren Cross concert, became friends, and formed a band called Obidiah. From there, they created the legendary Crimson Thorn, and recorded the cassette-only demo Plagued in 1992, and released it in 1993. Obviously, since then it’s gone out of print and hard to find, until it was included on the Morphine Records re-release of Unearthed as bonus material.

The reason why I’m writing about this now is because, as of this writing, Bombworks Records has recently released the official 3-CD boxed set featuring all of their releases, which includes this demo, with all of the material given a well-needed remastering that the originals were sorely lacking, including this and the aforementioned Unearthed. I wanted to discuss the music itself separately, so I can focus on the quality of the remastering when I get around to reviewing the boxed set collection here soon.

It’s rather fascinating to learn that, given the kind of death metal the band is famous for playing and releasing, that the music on the Plagued demo is thrash metal. Not thrash metal with death vocals, like on Mortification’s self-titled album, actual thrash metal with standard thrash metal vocals. Mind you, this is some very good thrash metal, so there’s no complaint about that. I just wonder what prompted the change from the Exodus style thrash sound to the Cannibal Corpse inspired death metal goodness that appeared a year later on their debut full-length release.

Anyway, despite the less-than-stellar production on the demo itself (it’s to be expected, really, and the Morphine Records release didn’t do any remastering), the metal here rips with some fantastic thrash riffs and thick rhythms anchoring things down. The vocals, like I said, are of the deeper thrash shout vocals, the likes of which bands like Scourged Flesh and Sacrament have employed, among several others. I think that, had they stuck with the thrash metal direction, they would have been just as fantastic at that as they were with the eventual death metal direction they eventually went with. Regardless, the Plagued demo is very much worth checking out, and since this is included in the boxed set, it’ll be easier to do so, rather than trying to track down an affordable copy of the cassette-only demo itself, or even the Morphine Records re-release of Unearthed on which it is included (with a mixed-up track listing, I might add). Recommended.

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