Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Apostle - Prepare To Meet God
   
Musical Style: Melodic Metal Produced By: Matt Harding
Record Label: Lifeforce Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 1994 Artist Website:
Tracks: 9 Rating: 70%
Running Time: 33:42
Apostle - Prepare To Meet God

Jacksonville, Florida based Apostle ranks among the more talented Christian metal bands to come out of the eighties that never signed a deal with a label.  Best known for its cassette only releases Chariots Of Iron (1987) and Hymns (1988), the group actually got its start in 1983 with the full length effort Metal For The Master.  Following up a year later with a self-titled four song EP, Apostle put out White Metal (1985) and King Of The Saints (1986) before placing the track “The Sword” on the East Coast Metal compilation in 1988.  Founding member Matt Harding proceeded to put the band on temporary hold in the late eighties, releasing a solo album, Steel Armada, in 1992 only to regroup with Apostle and record its 1994 swan song album Prepare To Meet God.

What we have in Prepare To Meet God is a departure from the neo-classical power metal of Apostle’s earlier material – such as Chariots Of Iron and Hymns – and a move in an eighties influenced metal and hard rock direction.  The end result is a work that serves to showcase the bands potential but, unfortunately, proves to be a somewhat uneven and disjointed effort.  While the albums better material is very, very good, the presence of several filler tracks, “Pray” and “Burn It Up”, and an uninspired instrumental in “Inferno” in the end hold things back.  When Apostle is in top form, nevertheless, it can compose a quality metal number that ranks with the genres best.  “Six Hundred Sixty Six” is a first rate example of classic metal, a driving track that stands in perfect contrast to the catchy melodic rock of “In The New Love”.  “Resurrection Dance”, “Betrayed” and “Alpha And Omega” all bring a solid old school metal vibe, while “Beatitude” highlights a symphonic touch- and hearkens back to the bands power metal leanings of the past.  

Prepare To Meet God is the only Apostle project not to feature Matt Harding on lead vocals.  Perhaps it was due to the move in an eighties influenced hard rock direction, but a new vocalist in David Brown was brought on board.  Unlike Harding’s classic tenor lead vocal style, Brown bring a mid-octave delivery that has more in common with the Dale Thompson’s (Bride) or Vince Neil’s (Motley Crue) of the world than, lets say, Lance King (Avian) or Khan (Kamelot).  Many people have mourned the fact Harding did not handle lead vocals here; but, after repeated listen, I feel it is important to give Brown his due.  No, he does not quite posses the talent of Michael Sweet (Stryper) or Stephen Patrick (Holy Soldier), but he is not lacking in ability either.  Just check out his smooth sounding sensibilities on “Beatitude” and “Alpha And Omega” or the falsetto’s he adds to the chorus of “Betrayed”.  All in all, my overall feeling is that if you give the guy a chance you will not be disappointed. 

As a guitarist, Matt Harding deserves to rank with the likes of Chris Impellitteri (Impelliteri), Rex Carroll (Whitecross) and Rob Johnson (Magnitude 9).  Yes, very good company indeed, but, to put it bluntly, the guy is a first class shredder of the highest order.  His lead work on “Six Hundred Sixty Six”, “Beatitude”, “Betrayed” and “In The New Love”, for example, is nothing less than jaw dropping and worth the price of the CD alone.  Drummer David McKee – whom I would describe as a mega-tight timekeeper – and bassist Larry Motes anchor the low end strong and steady.

Production values could use a bit of polish, but, otherwise, are clean in allowing all the instrumentation to rise above the mix.

Album opener “Six Hundred Sixty Six” delivers a classic metal sound to rival that of Saint.  The song begins to several seconds of open air rhythm guitar before moving through its verse portions in portent fashion, not picking up in pace until obtaining a hook filled chorus of the pull you in and refuse to go away variety.  “Six Hundred Sixty Six” is aptly named:

He causes all small and great
Rich and poor, free and slave
Receive a mark
On their right hand
Or on their forehead.

No one may buy or sell
Except the one with the mark
Of the name of the beast
Or the number of his name

“Beatitude” is a sublime piece that ranks with the albums best.  An exalted setting is established as the song flows ahead with a church organ decorating the background, the lofty ambience upheld after the rhythm guitar kicks in and carries things forward with added momentum.  Following a lengthy instrumental section in which Harding shows off his licks and chops.  “Beatitude” tapers off as a church organ once again plays a highlighting role.  The subject matter here is self-explanatory:

Blessed are the poor in spirit
Theirs is the Kingdom of God
Blessed are those who mourn
They shall be comforted

Blessed are those persecuted
For righteousness sake
Theirs is the Kingdom Of Heaven
Great is your reward, reward

Prepare To Meet God moves in an up-tempo direction with “Resurrection Dance”.  Getting underway to a bass guitar driven riff, the song storms ahead with a deluge of energy before making a changeover to a chorus that comes across worshipful in capacity:

Every knee shall bow and tongue confess
When they come to the resurrection dance
We’ll sing and shout and glorify
That Jesus Christ is Lord on high
Get on your knees and bow

Harding adds to the scene with his riveting work on lead guitar.  I feel it is worth taking a second look at the lyrics here:

True Messiah, God’s only Son
Wore a crown upon His head
Kill the King of the Jews
They shout at Him
As blood was trickling down His chin

Said with a whisper
Forgive them
Easter Sunday on the third day
The tomb was bare
The stone rolled away

“Inferno” is an all too brief (1:39) and uninspired sounding instrumental.  The song gets off to a great start, slowly fading in prior to taking off to a blend of neo-classical riffing and ominous sounding keyboards.  At jut the moment “Inferno” begins to peak, however, it suddenly ends in a manner that is all too abrupt for my taste.  If this one had been carried out an extra two or three minutes it would have been a definite winner.

“Betrayed” slowly moves through its first verse to a quietly played guitar line only to pick up in pace as a heavy duty rhythm guitar slams into the mix.  Charging ahead at an upbeat tempo, the song gains impetus as it reaches an energetically driven chorus highlighted by Brown’s high pitched vocal delivery.  As its title implies, “Betrayal” talks about Christi’s betrayal:

Multitudes, with swords and clubs
Came the scribes and the priests
Betrayed by a kiss of death
They took Him away

They said, “Are you the Christ, tell us?”
“If I say you won’t believe.”
“Are you the Christ the blessed of God?”
“It is as you say.”

Harding pulls out all the stops on lead guitar.

“Alpha And Omega” commences to a drum solo before grooving ahead at a mid-tempo pace, an even transition made as it obtains a fleeting chorus standing out as a result of its inauspicious feel.  Brown again adds a smooth sounding touch to his vocal delivery.  “Alpha And Omega” draws its lyrics from the book of Revelation:

Alpha and Omega
He’s the first and He is the last
Beginning and the end
He’s the same past, present and future

Worth is the Lamb
To receive the blessing and honor
Glory and power
Wisdom, praises and riches

The wonderful “In The New Love” brings a hook driven sound that has Stryper written all over it.  The song moves ahead in quickly moving fashion from the start, delivering a plethora of first class energy as it makes its way to an infectious chorus shored up by a highlighting touch of vocal harmonies.  A fiery run of lead guitar brings out the best in a song talking about the importance of love:

We’ll give no place to wickedness
Acting in the new love
Created in Christ
According to the new love
Cast off the works of darkness
Clothed in the new love
Love your neighbor as yourself
Honoring the new love

Prepare To Meet God closes with two tracks in “Pray” and “Burn It Up” I might describe as filler.  “Pray”, a particularly uninspired piece, slowly plods through its verse portions only to pick up in pace for a chorus that comes across on the pedestrian side of things.  Despite repeated listening, I simply cannot grow into this one.  “Burn It Up” is a boogie-flavored metal number that reminds me of Stryper’s “Can’t Stop The Rock” (from the Can’t Stop The Rock compilation) or “Good Enough” by Whitecross (off In The Kingdom).  But nowhere near as good in either case.

The best way to sum up would be to state that Apostle delivers its share of quality material on Prepare To Meet God.  The only problem is that there is simply not enough of it.  Out of the albums nine tracks, for example, I tend to hit the skip button at least three times.  But, still, Prepare To Meet God does feature six solid tracks and an incredible performance on guitar by Harding; hence, it is worth whatever trouble you might encounter when attempt to locate a copy.  And that is where the problem lies.  Out of print for years, the album is a highly sought after collectors items that can go up to and beyond $75 on eBay.  Happy hunting.

Review by: Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “Six Hundred Sixty Six” (3:34), “Beatitude” (5:28), “Resurrection Dance” (3:44), “Inferno” (1:39), “Betrayed” (4:23), “Alpha And Omega” (3:39), “In The New Love” (3:47), “Pray” (5:00), “Burn It Up” (2:29)

Musicians
David Brown – Lead Vocals
Matt Harding – Guitars
Larry Motes – Bass
David McKee – Drums

Guest Musicians
Mark Borrero – Bass
Jerry Mehm - Drums

Also Reviewed: Various Artists - East Coast Metal

 

Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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