|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By: Symmetrical Fear & Sistah|
|Record Label: Indie Dream||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2001||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10/14||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 40:15/56:14|
A legitimate case can be made that two distinct eras exist in the history of the groundbreaking Christian metal band Deliverance. The first, reflecting a speed metal and thrash influence, encompassed the bands self-titled debut (1989) and the subsequent releases Weapons Of Our Warfare (1990) and What A Joke (1991). Making a move to a straightforward metal and hard rock direction with Stay Of Execution (1992), Deliverance continued the trend with Learn (1993), River Disturbance (1994) and Camelot In Smithereens (1995). The group proceeded to go on a six year hiatus until 2001 when it made a break from its past by returning with the industrial influenced hard rock of Assimilation. Representing a near complete makeover in the bands sound, Assimilation takes a foundation of edgy rhythm guitar and imbues it with a forward mix of keyboards to create a work that can best be described as dark and heavy – almost Goth-like in feel – but compelling as well. As a matter of fact, what we have here is perhaps the most musically consistent effort from the band since its critically acclaimed 1993 work Learn. Tracks such as “The Circle” and “Save Me From…”, for instance, will pull you in with their technical prowess, while “Assimilation” and “Between 2 Worlds” give rise to a resounding heaviness. “The Limitless Light” and “Impressions”, on the other hand, bring chorus hooks of a gripping capacity.
Assimilation finds founding member Jimmy P. Brown II in top form with his doom-like and low key David Bowie meets Geoff Tate (Queensryche) lead vocal abilities. As a rhythm guitar, he adorns the full length of the project with his mega-tight riffs and chops- placed right up front in the mix where they belong. Longtime Deliverance bassist Manny Morales makes his presence felt as well in furnishing an abundance of unwavering bass lines. Keyboardist David Gilbreath, of course, adds the industrial element to the bands sound, his accentuating but not overriding work bringing out the best in the quality material here.
The only complaint in regards to the bands performance is the drumming of Jim Calvert, which can come across on the underplayed side of things. While far from bad, I wish he would have taken an approach that was a bit more technical and aggressive. Another problem worth mentioning is the lack of emphasis Deliverance places on its instrumental sound. With the exception of Brown’s soloing on “The Limitless Light” and “Sell Your Soul” and a guest appearance on lead guitar by Justin DeTie on “Impressions”, the material here, for the most part, does not allow for any type of excursion into instrumental territory. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but in most instances a well timed guitar solo cannot help but make a good song even better. And such is the case here.
Production values are very solid in melding a near perfect rhythm guitar sound with a clean mix of keyboards and bass. Only the drums – which deserve a more prominent place in the mix – fall short.
While originally released on Indie Dream Records in 2001, Assimilation was re-issued in 2007 by Retroactive Records – featuring re-designed album artwork – with a second bonus CD made up of instrumental demo versions of all ten of the albums songs along with four others featuring lead vocals.
The keyboards initiating “The Limitless Light” give way to a crunchy guitar riff backed by a resounding bass line, the two pushing the song ahead until it reaches a chorus with a hook of the refuse to go away variety. Brown contributes a brief but well done guitar solo to a song talking about God’s faithfulness:
Through Your name I found redemptive plan
The holiness forms the body of man
Come take me to where You dwell
Even through the fires of hell
I know You will...
A blend of edgy rhythm guitar and accentuating keyboards introduces “From The Beginning”. Advancing with an excess of determined momentum, the song peaks as it moves on to a chorus in which a portentous setting is put into place. Deep, dark and heavy, what we have here is one of the albums better tracks.
A forward swell of rhythm guitar urges the albums metal laced title track ahead at an upbeat tempo, the initiative gained interrupted prior to procuring a chorus delivered in aggressive but sweeping fashion. A rhythm guitar driven instrumental section helps take “Assimilation” pas the five minute mark.
Opening to a brief keyboard solo, “The Circle” moves ahead staunchly before evening out for a chorus exuding an abundance of the bands trademark swarthy ambience. I wish an instrumental section limited to several seconds of rhythm guitar had been expanded upon. Self-absorption is the subject matter here:
The wandering fool searches for his pot of gold
He doesn't know what is bid upon has already been sold
Lifts his eyes to the skies once again
The question of life and what has God done for him
Blames everyone else for his thoughtless life
And he talks to the dead for consent in what is right
Choosing to ignore the plan divine
And he finds himself the dying fruit on the vine
And he centers in...on himself."
"Sell Your Soul" commences to several seconds of bass guitar before a blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards takes over. The rhythm guitar proceeds to fade to the backseat of the mix as the song reaches its first verse, returning with full vengeance to bring out the best in the melodic based chorus that follows. “Sell Your Soul” talks about dealing with the past:
Shone forth from the light of day
Past returns to haunt me again
And doing it well I say
Weight barely lifted from cruel way in
Misery thrives on it
The methodical heart of the never-ending sin
The size of it all overpowers the soul
After a trade off between a muscular bass line and an equally pronounced rhythm guitar shores up “The Search” during its verse portions, the pace abruptly picks up as a transition is made to a spirited chorus in which keyboards play a highlighting role. Morales really stands out on this track with his muscular work on bass guitar.
A crisp sounding guitar riff underlined by keyboards impels “The Learned Man” in a determined manner, the song not slowing until a brief but catchy chorus fortified by Brown’s low key vocal delivery is obtained. Tapering off even further, the song attains an instrumental section in which a smooth sounding blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards play a prominent role. “The Learned Man” is a song of faith:
Seeing is believing, I might beg to differ
To master the deception
And sink further into the river
Life is yours; your quest was always here
To catch a glimpse of the Savior
Through this multi coloured smear
Wipe away the tears...
You are the learned man
A hammering guitar riff urges “Between 2 Worlds” through its verse portions hard and heavy, the resolute atmosphere upheld for a driving chorus guaranteed to pull you in as a result of its doom-like ardor. I enjoy how the song slowly fades out as it ends to more of Brown’s deep sounding vocal stylings:
Between 2 worlds/split my brain
Between 2 worlds/raise the bar again
Between 2 worlds/from the clay…
“Impressions” slowly moves through its first verse with a dominant rhythm guitar forcing its way in and out of the mix, abruptly gaining velocity for a shadowy chorus giving rise to a hook of a near commercial capacity. Just DeTie adorns the scene with several seconds of flashy lead work. “Impressions” talks about exactly that:
Can they see the person that cares?
Can they see the person that hurts?
Can they see the beauty that lies within?
Impressions - not always what they seem
Impressions - it's when my mind takes leave from me
A joining of swirling keyboards and rhythm guitar drives “Save Me From…” forward from the start, the forthright impetus maintained as the way is paved for a laid back chorus exuding just the right amount of smooth sounding touch. While a very fine number, I cannot help but think “Save Me From…” would have stood out further if the band had put forth a better display of its instrumental sound.
As previously stated, Assimilation was re-issued in 2007 by Retroactive Records with a bonus CD made up of instrumental demo version of the albums ten songs and four others with lead vocals (“The Limitless Light”, “Sell Your Soul”, “The Search” and “Save Me From…”. Those performing on the demo tracks include Brown, Morales, Gilbreath and legendary Deliverance bassist Brian Khairullah (who departed the group before the album could be recorded). The songs in question were recorded in Jimmy Brown’s home with PC Tools and a PC with the end result being professional sounding production values, which makes purchasing a copy of the re-issue a necessity. If I were to invite a comparison, nevertheless, the original version of Assimilation showcases a touch more clarity along with a heavier mix of rhythm guitar. The demo recordings, on the other hand, easily hold their own in standing out with the more resounding low end and better drum sound. Again, if you enjoy Assimilation then my advice would be to pick up the re-issue in that the demo material is of high quality. The re-designed album artwork is icing on the cake.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing (Disc One): "The Limitless Light" (3:24), "From The Beginning" (3:05), "Assimilation" (5:20), "The Circle" (4:27), "Sell Your Soul" (4:33), "The Search" (4:02), "The Learned Man" (4:14), "Between 2 Worlds" (3:35), "Impressions" (3:21), "Save Me From…" (4:09)
Track Listing (Disc Two): "The Limitless Light" (3:24), "Sell Your Soul" (4:32), "The Search" (3:59), "Save Me From…" (4:12), "Assimilation" (5:17), "Between 2 Worlds" (3:53), "The Limitless Light" (3:23), "The Circle" (4:24), "Sell Your Soul" (4:32), "The Search" (3:56), "Impressions" (3:31), The Learned Man" (4:22), "From The Beginning" (3:01), "Save Me From…" (4:13)
Jimmy P. Brown II – Lead Vocals, Guitars & Keyboards
Manny Morales – Bass
David Gilbreath – Keyboards & Programming
Jim Calvert – Drums
Justin DeTie - Guitars
Also Reviewed: Deliverance – Deliverance, Deliverance - Weapons Of Our Warfare, Deliverance - Stay Of Execution, Deliverance - River Disturbance, Deliverance - As Above - So Below, Deliverance - The First Four Years, Deliverance - Greetings Of Death, Fearful Symmetry – This Sad Veil OfTears, Jupiter VI - Back From Mars, Various Artists - California Metal