Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I'm Still A Believer ...

After a 15 odd year hiatus Believer are back with a new album "Gabriel". As with any long - awaited album or reunion there is always a sense of foreboding towards the new material. So what have Kurt Bachman and Joey Daub been up to over the years? Apparently polishing up their thrash skills.

You'd swear that these guys have never stopped playing thrash. Even Joey's stint with gothic metal band Fountain Of Tears did not sway him in any way to perform some killer drums on "Gabriel". Kurt has even spit shined his Voivodian rasp into his most comprehensible vocals yet, while still retaining his recognizable voice.

"Gabriel" is probably their most accessible album since "Extraction From Mortality" and could easily have been a suitable follow up. The production is solid as always and the thrash is technical with Believer's signature dis-jointed riff work and progressive flourishes. They even add a little groove for a more modern sound.

Kicking off with "Medwton" which primes us for the thrash assault that's coming. It's speedy with biting guitars and ends with an eerie Didgeridoo type sound. "A Moment In Prime" continues with a darker edge in part due to strategic keyboards.

"The Need For Conflict", "Focused Lethality" and "Shut Out The Sun" are primo samples of solid technical thrash. There really isn't a standout track because all the songs flow nicely and are outstanding in themselves.

The biggest change are the lyrics which are more cryptic and how pretty much dropped any Christian meaning. I doubt they've renounced their faith, but have taken a more straight-forward thought-provoking angle with their lyrics dealing with (I gather) technology, drug abuse and what not.

Not a huge deal and this will probably open up some more doors for them, although they were fairly widely acclaimed in both secular and non-secular circles. Overall, "Gabriel" is a fine example of thrash done by some masters that stands out in an arena being consumed with new comers.

I look forward to future releases ... hopefully ...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Blurred Vision, Sanity Obscure

Believer's 2nd outing "Sanity Obscured" is another thrash classic. Where "Extraction ... " was more raw and straight-forward, "Sanity Obscured" is more technical which lends itself to feeling of disjointedness.

The progressive choppiness does not hinder the album, but allows the band to explore more complex riffage while retaining the speed and chugging of their debut. The growth is complimented with suberb production and more distinguishable vocals from frontman Kurt Bachman.

Starting the album of is the title track and probably my favourite song on this album. After an eerie keyboard/sound effects intro with hints of familiar child-like melodies "Sanity Obscured" blasts into a ferocious staight up thrash assault. The rest of the album follow suit with more technical prowess.

The other 2 stand out tracks are the heavy metal/punky attitude cover of U2's "Like A Song" which is catchy faithfully done (I should mention that I haven't heard the original, but the song is straight forward without any thrashy flourishes and a strong U2 vibe). "Dies Irae (Day Of Wrath) is a haunting orchestral piece interspersed with Believer brand heaviness. The song is bleak and sinister sounding and hints at what is to come on "Dimensions" their 3rd album.

Overall, I find "Sanity Obscured" a worthy follow-up, showing growth and talent. Joey Daub is also a killer drummer too.

Feel free to check out my review of "Dimensions" previously posted a while ago.

Up next. After a 15 year hiatus, Believer are back with an unprecidented thrash masterpiece "Gabriel"

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Brought By God's Own Might

With the Christian thrash band Believer coming out of obscurity and releasing a new album "Gabriel" I thought I would take a look at some of their earlier work. Believer debuted with the thrash masterpiece that is "Extraction From Mortality".

Released in 1989 "Extraction From Mortality" was by no means breaking new ground except perhaps by being a Christian band. Carving a niche with fellow Christian bands like Vengeance Rising and Deliverance, Believer took their faith to the stage with a foundation of raw technical thrash garnering glowing reviews both secular and non-secular.

"Extraction From Mortality" is not as technical as "Sanity Obscure" or progressive as "Dimensions", but is a slab of speedy, crunchy riffs, thunderous drums and sickening vocals. Kicking off the album is "Unity" which after a short intro is a blistering thrash assault. "Vile Hypocrisy" continues the onslaught, pacing well with variant tempos and crushing riffs.

In fact, "Extraction From Mortality" is a 40 minute pummelling with little room to breath. "D.O.S. (Desolation Of Sodom)" adds a little groove to the mix with a fairly mid-paced rhythm and the album closer "Stress" is essentially a reggae thrash tune, ska-like with a punk attitude.

"Shadow Of Death" is darker tune with a bleaker feel and "Blemished Sacrifices" brings to mind "Ride The Lightning" era Metallica and is one the fastest songs here with some killer riffs. The title track hints at what is to come with a haunting orchestral intro before pounding us with a speedy crunch and gang style chorus's.

There is really not much to dislike about this album and finding a favourite song is tough. It's a toss up between "Shadow Of Death" and "Blemished Sacrifices" for me. The vocals leave something to be desired and are reminiscent of mid-period Living Sacrifice though slightly more discernible. Not terrible, but not really to my liking.

Overall, this is a solid release and an outstanding debut. Up next I'll take a look at "Sanity Obscured".