|Musical Style: Heavy Metal||Produced By: Michael Bloodgood, Les Carlson & David Zaffiro|
|Record Label: Intense Millennium||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 1987/2010||Artist Website: Bloodgood|
|Tracks: 12||Rating: 90%|
|Running Time: 46:38|
Most well known bands record a signature album in which they make a statement regarding the artistic and creative pinnacles of their career. For Stryper that would be To Hell With The Devil and Bride Snakes In The Playground. Deliverance had Weapons Of Our Warfare – although I would not argue with anyone who mentions Learn – while Bloodgood had Detonation.
Bloodgood got its start in 1985 with the four song demo Metal Missionaries prior to following up with its Frontline Records self-titled debut a year later. While Bloodgood was well received and garnered its share of critical acclaim, it is on the Frontline follow up effort Detonation from 1987 that Bloodgood took things to the next level.
The difference, as is often the case, boils down to musical direction and songwriting. In comparison to the debut, which featured a blend of melodic and traditional metal, Detonation takes the heavier and more aggressive approach. Those who describe it as straightforward heavy metal would not be far from the mark. Songwriting wise, the debut proved consistent with a share of good to great songs, but Detonation found Bloodgood coming into its own and delivering some of the finest compositions of its career, many which remain concert staples to this day.
Opening tracks “Battle Of The Flesh”, “Vagrant People” and “Self-Destruction” hit hard and fast – almost approaching speed metal territory – but reflect the musical maturity focused bands make between their first and second albums. The semi-ballad “Alone In Suicide”, bluesy “Heartbeat (Of The City)” and catchy “Eat The Flesh” might take a more melodic heading but still showcase the trademark crunch characteristic of early Bloodgood. Where Bloodgood puts it all together is the joining of power and emotion that is the theatrical “rock opera” of “Crucified” (as blistering a track as you will find) and “Messiah” (this one almost approaches melodic hard rock territory).
Detonation, long out of print and a hard to find collectors item, was re-released in late 2010 by Intense Millennium Records, a company dedicated to re-issuing fully licensed material from the Intense/Frontline/Alarma Records group. In addition to being re-mastered and including two bonus tracks, “Crucify” and “The Messiah” recorded live at Metal Mardi Gras on September 12, 1987, the re-issue also comes with liner notes from Pastor Bob Beeman and new artwork.
Perhaps it is just me, but am I the only one who does not “get” the new artwork, which seems to portray a guitar wielding statue engulfed in flames? The original artwork, fortunately, is available on the backside of the mini booklet.
Detonation, in my opinion, features the tighter production, at least when placed side by side with the debut, but still sounds dated by today’s standards. The re-mastering, however, proves a strong upgrade in allowing for the bigger and fuller sound – particularly as it relates to the low end – that makes purchasing the re-issue a necessity.
Les Carlson continues to bring a high and raspy (almost operatic) vocal style that helps lend to Bloodgood’s unique sound. That uniqueness is reflected in how it is not always easy to invite comparison between Bloodgood’s and its contemporaries. Many Christian metal bands of the era – as a result of their vocalists – bring to mind a mainstream counterpart. Not so with Bloodgood. As a matter of fact, if anyone bothered to ask who Bloodgood sounds like the natural response would have been “Well, Bloodgood”.
Bringing the same level of ability is guitarist David Zaffiro (check out his ripping leads on “Eat The Flesh”) and bassist Michael Bloodgood (his pronounced bass lines stand out best on “Heartbeat (Of The City)”). Replacing original drummer J.T. Taylor is newcomer Mark Welling. While I always felt that Taylor was fundamentally sound, Welling takes things to the next level with his creativity and technical prowess (as he aptly demonstrates on “Self-Destruction”).
Track By Track
“Battle Of The Flesh” picks up where “Black Snake” from the self-titled debut leaves off: fast, heavy hitting and aggressive as all get out. Three minutes of explosive energy, the song emphasizes Zaffiro’s riffing with abandon and a torrid impetus that approaches speed metal territory. Temptation is the subject at hand:
Pleasures of the flesh seem sweet
Worldly thoughts rush in
We fight and fight for mind control
Our weakness turns to sin
Pride of man makes him fall
And lust is in his eyes
Such a battle that we're in
Darkness feeds us lies, lies, lies
Evil forces of this world
Passions guide our way
Anger turns our hearts to stone
And robs the words we say
It's a Battle of the Flesh
With the rulers of the air
We have power in the Son
Power we can share
“Vagrant People” sustains the aggression but with a darker and weightier vibe. This is best reflected in a rumbling, bottom heavy presence along with a portent chorus shored up by swarthy backing vocals. I am reminded somewhat of “Killing The Beast” (also from the debut), albeit at the more forthright tempo.
“Self-Destruction” fits in with its two predecessors. Intense would be the best way to describe the song, as it maneuvers its distance with a sledgehammer rhythm guitar recoiling in and out of the mix and creative drumming of Mark Welling lending a technical edge. “Self Destruction” talks about making the correct eternal decision:
Pathway to heaven or highway to hell
Which one you're on is easy to tell
Live for yourself, no time for the Son
Don't blame God for your own Self-Destruction!
When it's all over, your life is done
No more chances and no place to run
You judge yourself if you turn away
Let him in, do it, do it today
You think life is cheap, well I got some news
Jesus Christ paid a high price for you, yeah
Died a sinner's death, see what he's done
Don't blame God for your own Self-Destruction!
I like to think of “Alone In Suicide” as a semi-ballad with a metal flair- and a very good one at that! The song highlights an emotional proclivity – Carlson’s moving vocal performance aligns with the environs at hand – but allows for enough guitar driven muscle and time and tempo changes to remain fresh with repeated listen. “Alone In Suicide” addresses those having suicidal thoughts -
Feel the knots twisting inside
As I look to the bullets to be my guide
In a razor's edge should I confide
To open my veins and bleed them dry
Oh, the endless pressure, how can I cope?
I try to release but the valves are broke
A psychotic grasp upon my throat
I wanna hang the rope!
- while offering a solution in return:
Salvation calls (to the lonely)
On the abused (redemption falls)
God have his all (that you might know him)
Tear down the walls! What have you got to lose?
Salvation calls to all of the lonely people
Tear down the walls, you've been abused
God gave his all to all of the lonely people
He stretched out his arms and died for you!
“Heartbeat (Of The City)” represents one of the overlooked gems in Bloodgood’s repertoire. What we have here is a slower and bluesy track, distinguished by its notable melody but driven by an impeccable bass line which finds Michael Bloodgood in prime form.
The albums second half starts to the joining of the heavy and melodic that is “Eat The Flesh”. Heavy in terms of the songs hard charging verses but melodies from the standpoint of a catchy chorus that borders on angelic in capacity (I am almost reminded of “Accept The Lamb” off the debut). Zaffiro tops things off with a blistering stretch of lead guitar. Lyrics revolve around observing Communion:
Battle worn His flesh is torn and bleeding
Eternal life comes through the souls God's feeding
Words of peace are met with screaming bullets
Now you're looking through a soldier's eyes
Mighty words He spoke to us in Spirit
For He's come to give us life
Share the Bread and Living Water
Eat the Flesh, drink the blood of Christ
“Holy Fire” takes a straightforward metal heading but mixed with periodic bluesy touches. The song brings some slower and driving moments that are as bottom heavy as they get – this is where those blues elements comes in – but can pick up in pace for a spirited chorus shored up by polished backing vocals.
“Crucify” and “Messiah” combine for eight minutes of theatrical metal that details the crucifixion, death on the cross and ultimate resurrection of Christ.
“Crucify” is the heavier of the two, with its faster tempo and brazen riff onslaught. The song storms out of the gate in animated fashion as Carlson plays the role of Pilate for its first verse:
Here is our king, you bring him to me?
I say, "Set him free!", you say you want him to die
He has done nothing, nothing, nothing
But you say, "Crucify! Crucify! Crucify!"
You act as though this man is inciting a rebellion
No one here can prove that to be true
I have examined Him in your presence
And have found no basis for your charges
Neither has Herod
So he sent him back to us as you can see
He's done nothing, nothing
Nothing to deserve the things you ask
I wash my hands of this man's blood!
“Crucify” briefly slows as the Roman soldiers mock Christ:
Hail King Of the Jews!
Prophecy! Who hit you?
Here's your crown
Regaining its initiative, “Crucify” details the exchange between Pilate and the angry mob as the crowd shouts “Crucify!” three straight times:
Mob: Crucify! Crucify! Crucify!
The voice of Satan interjects as Pilate relents and gives in to the crowd’s demands:
Satan: Kill him
Pilate: All right
Satan: You've washed your hands, just kill him, Pilate
Pilate: All right! I wash my hands of this man's blood...take him!
As soon as “Crucify” abruptly ends, “The Messiah” gently begins. This one takes a slower and more melodic heading, painting a picture of events following Christ’s death on the cross during its first verse:
Take Him down, take Him down
Move Him gently, hold His head
Wipe His face, clean the blood off
Lay Him here, wrap Him in this cloth
Picking up in pace for its emotionally charged chorus, the song culminates upon reaching its final verse as the Resurrection is portrayed:
Don't be afraid, He has risen, He's not here
Why are you trembling with fear?
Just as He told you, just as He said
They could not stop Him, He is not dead!
Closing things out is “Live Wire”, a two and a half minute adrenalin rush that captures the speed and angst of the albums opening tracks with its bristling riffs and double kick drum action. Zaffiro nails a pull out all the stops guitar solo.
The bonus live tracks have a bootleg/soundboard feel to them but are good to hear for nostalgic purposes. Bloodgood die-hards will certainly enjoy them. “Messiah”, in particular, has been carried out to eight minutes with an extended passage in which Carlson delivers a message in line with the songs theme.
The best way to sum up would be to state that Detonation placed 8 in a poll earlier this year at Heaven’s Metal fanzine of the top 100 Christian metal albums of all time. It also placed 15 in another poll of the top 100 Christian metal albums recently conducted at the Christian Metal Realm forum. It is such respect from critics and fans alike that allows the album to ultimately stand the test of time and be considered Bloodgood’s signature release in the process.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Battle Of The Flesh” (2:44), “Vagrant People” (3:47), “Self-Destruction” (3:33), “Alone In Suicide” (4:03), “Heartbeat (Of The City) (3:28), “Eat The Flesh” (4:02), “Holy Fire” (3:12), “Crucify” (3:08), “The Messiah” (4:40), “Live Wire” (2:36), “Crucify” (3:18), “Messiah” (8:03)
Les Carlson – Lead Vocals
David Zaffiro – Guitars
Michael Bloodgood – Bass
Mark Welling - Drums