|Musical Style: Melodic Metal||Produced By: Darrell Mansfield|
|Record Label: Intense/Millennium||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 1986/2010||Artist Website: Bloodgood|
|Tracks: 12||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 44:45|
Bloodgood can trace its history to 1983 when bassist Michael Bloodgood developed the vision for the Seattle based group. First recruiting drummer J.T. Taylor and later guitarist David Zaffiro, he rounded out the bands line up with vocalist Les Carlson, a well known local club musician who previously had the lead in the touring Broadway musical Hair, after placing an ad in a Seattle area music magazine.
At this point it must be noted that Bloodgood came together with no connection to the Christian metal scene. Michael Bloodgood was unaware of anything else happening in Christian metal (when the band was nothing more than a vision) and only learned about Stryper after seeing them in the news. When factoring in that Saint, another group from the Pacific Northwest, and Southern California’s Barren Cross formed in the same manner during the early eighties, it becomes obvious that the “white metal scene” – as it eventually became known – was actually a movement in which its leading players came together separately at around the same time. Coincidence? I do not think so.
Bloodgood started work on material in 1985 and released later the same year a critically acclaimed four song demo, Metal Missionaries, that led to a deal with Frontline Records. Bloodgood began the recording process of its self-titled full length debut in the fall of 1985 and released it the spring of 1986.
Bloodgood, well received in the burgeoning eighties white metal scene and garnering its share of positive reviews, eventually went out of print and turned into a hard to find collectors item. Enter Intense Millennium Records, a company dedicated to re-issuing fully licensed material from the Intense/Frontline/Alarma Records group, which re-mastered and re-released the album in later 2010. In addition to a different interpretation of the artwork and liner notes from Pastor Bob Beeman, the re-issue also comes with bonus tracks in the form of an alternate mix of “Awake” and extended version of “Black Snake”.
I find the revised artwork, featuring the chrome Bloodgood logo now highlighted in red, an upgrade. But for those that still prefer the original it can be found on the back of the CD mini booklet.
Labeling Bloodgood “melodic metal” might be accurate but also somewhat limiting in that it does not tell the full story in regards to what the group is about- and that is presenting with a certain amount of variety without becoming predictable in the process. Yes, Bloodgood delivers its share of classic melodic metal pieces, including the melodic based “Accept The Lamb” and “Stand In The Light” in addition to speedier tracks “Awake” and “Anguish And Pain”. But the band can flex its muscles as well, as can be found in the swarthy metal number “Killing The Beast” along with two that approach traditional metal territory, “Demon On The Run” and “Soldier Of Peace”. Maintaining the heaviness – and versatility – is the bluesy “What’s Following The Grave” and all out speed and angst of “Black Snake”.
What has always stood out for me about Bloodgood is how they have their own unique sound. Many Christian metal bands from the era, for instance, invite a direct comparison to a mainstream counterpart: Whitecross = Ratt; X-Sinner = AC/DC; Trytan = Rush. Not so with Bloodgood. As a matter of fact, if anyone bothers to ask who Bloodgood sounds like the natural response would be “Well, Bloodgood”.
I cannot help but think Les Carlson helps give Bloodgood that uniqueness in question with his high end but raspy operatic vocal style. Always one of my favorite metal vocalists from the eighties, Carlson has been compared to a cross between Steve Perry (Journey) and John Schlitt (Head East, Petra). Bringing every bit as much ability is guitarist David Zaffiro, who deserves to rank with contemporaries Oz Fox (Stryper), Ray Parris (Barren Cross), Tony Palacios (Guardian) and Dee Harrington (Saint). Rounding out the Bloodgood roster are the underpinning bass lines of Michael Bloodgood and spot on drumming of J.T. Taylor.
Production, in my opinion, was good for its era but dated by today’s standards. The re-mastering, however, proves the difference between night and day – and highly encourages a purchase of the re-issue – in allowing the album to literally come to life with a sound that is that much bigger, fuller and brighter. The rhythm guitar now delivers added bite (such as on “Demon On The Run”), bass the more pronounced feel (check out “Stand In The Light”) and drums quite the resounding presence (throughout the entire album).
Lyrics are well thought out and get to the point without coming across heavy handed or corny. One reviewer back in the day who described Bloodgood as “thinking man’s metal” hit the nail on the head.
Track By Track
“Accept The Lamb” starts to angelic choir vocals but proves a melodic hard rocker the rest of the way, switching between heavier guitar driven verses and a smoother chorus in which the angelic choirs make a cameo appearance. Staunch but melodic, this one proves a good representation of the early Bloodgood sound. “Accept The Lamb” encourages its listeners to do just that:
Run in the night, can you feel your body's growing weaker
On the fright, expecting anytime a roaming creature
All of your days, are measured by the way you serve your master
Lives in a maze, loving all the time your own disaster
Falling asleep, empty
Screams from the street, "Not me!"
Pulling away, from the bloody hands that try to hold you
Calls from the grave, you try to yell out but you're too afraid
Barely escaped, ensnared
Still he waits, no one cares!
Except the Lamb of the Living God
Accept the Lamb of the Living God
Accept I AM He's the Living God
Accept I AM He's the Living God
The melodic sensibilities continue with “Stand In The Light”. With a purposeful bass line leading the way, the song brings a catchy mid-paced sound that hints of melodic rock of AOR but still backed by enough guitar driven punch to keep your attention from wavering. I always have felt that this is one of the group’s more overlooked tracks.
Bloodgood gets mean and nasty on “Demon On The Run”, one of its signature songs that ranks with the top Christian metal tracks from the eighties. The rhythm guitar sound here literally cuts to the bone in approaching classic metal territory while Zaffiro cuts loose with an emotional stretch of soloing. Lyrics are as powerful as the music:
But remember when the curtain tore
The enemy began to roar
Thinking he had won the fight
Not knowing the power of the Light
But He rose up in three days
After overcoming the grave
The Lord has taken command
The Kingdom of God is at hand
He lives in you and me
Oh the Lamb has set us free
By the power of His grace
Only He reserves a place
For each and everyone
Who believes in His Son
“Anguish And Pain” heads in the faster direction. No, not speed metal fast such as the final track “Black Snake” but forthright nonetheless with its fixed riff structures and Taylor’s hyperactive drumming. More blistering lead work tops off quite the energy driven piece.
“Awake” maintains the upbeat momentum but accents a worshipful quality with its polished vocal melodies – particularly during its decisive chorus – and quieter passage at the halfway point in which Carlson recites the Lord’s Prayer. Lyrics tie into “Crucifixion” and “Messiah” (from Detonation) in that they touch upon Christ’s final hours:
A kiss will seal my fate
And still you lie in disbelief
Awake, my God, Awake!
My final hour is here, my death is drawing near
And now your hearts are filled with grief, Awake!
My soul is torn in two, there's nothing you can do
Pray that you'll not fall my friends, Awake!
I sweated drops of blood for you
And all the human race
And still you lie in disbelief
Awake, my God, Awake!
“Soldier Of Peace” starts, appropriately, to a militant drum beat before launching into an all out traditional metal assault. This one ranks with “Demon On The Run” as the albums heaviest in that, once again, we are treated to driving riffs galore and quite the hard hitting chorus. “Soldier Of Peace” touches upon spiritual warfare:
Then I heard the sounds of heaven
Crashing seas...seemed like thunder!
I turned my back on the devil
'Cause Jesus broke my chains
Now I live for His glory
Shout whenever I can, yah!
Soldier of Peace
Soldier of Light
Look out Satan
'Cause I'm coming to fight!
“You Lose”, originally recorded on a demo by Michael Bloodgood’s pre-Bloodgood group Cypress, hits hard and fast in that, similar to “Anguish And Pain”, it brings a decisive upbeat momentum. Carlson delivers some well timed falsettos and Zaffiro a nail biting guitar solo.
Bluesy metal would be the best way to describe “What’s Following The Grave”, the albums slowest with its plodding mid-paced milieu and bottom heavy guitar driven presence. Chorus is almost haunting as Carlson continually repeats the songs title in emotional fashion. Zaffiro, fittingly, complements things with his bluesy playing.
“Killing The Beast” is a dark and heavy powerhouse. Characterized by its razor-like guitar riffs, the song establishes a swarthy setting with its resonant backing vocals for its perseverant chorus and staunchly reinforced low end. Lyrically, this one contrasts somewhat with the music in that a victorious message is at hand:
One day the King of Kings will put him in an endless pit
And lock it up tight for a thousand years
The Alpha and Omega will begin His reign on earth
And crushing into pieces ancient fears
He'll receive all glory high upon His mighty throne
All nations bowing down in reverent praise
tears of joy and laughter will be our new place and home
Our enemy is doomed in a fiery blaze!
Killing the Beast, Killing the Beast, Killing the Beast
“Black Snake” is as aggressive as it gets- at least as far as Bloodgood is concerned. What we have here is a three minute speed metal assault that kicks up a furious storm, merging tenaciously done riff explosions with more drumming on the relentless side of things.
In terms of the bonus tracks, the demo version of “Awake” is similar to that on the debut but with extra vocals in the background during the calmer passage in which the Lord’s Prayer is recited. “Black Snake” has been extended an extra thirty seconds with an added guitar solo at the end.
Bloodgood’s self-titled debut might not be a classic but is solid nonetheless. With repeated listen, I find that its material still holds up well despite the passing of several decades. The re-mastering, at the same time, brings production up to modern standards and makes the re-issue a recommended purchase.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "Accept The Lamb" (3:48), "Stand In The Light" (3:44), "Demon On The Run" (4:00), "Anguish And Pain" (3:06), "Awake!" (4:14), "Soldier Of Peace" (3:16), "You Lose" (2:56), "What's Following The Grave" (5:06), "Killing The Beast" (4:43), "Black Snake" (2:56), “Awake” (4:04), “Black Snake” (3:23)
Les Carlson – Lead Vocals
David Zaffiro – Guitars
Michael Bloodgood – Bass
J.T. Taylor - Drums