|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By: Terry Taylor|
|Record Label: Retroactive||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2007||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 14||Rating: 75%|
|Running Time: 73:12|
Deliverance was quite the veteran unit at the time of its 1994 release River Disturbance, having put out two demo tapes, five full length albums and an EP. Initially combining elements of speed metal and thrash on its first three albums, the promising self-titled debut (1989), a groundbreaking work in Weapons Of Our Warfare (1990) and the aptly titled What A Joke (1991), Deliverance went through a near complete makeover in its sound with the straightforward metal of the follow up efforts Stay Of Execution (1992) and Learn (1993). While not quite speed metal or thrash, both albums, nevertheless, were still HEAVY and showcased the bands trademark crunch. River Disturbance, on the other hand, finds Jimmy P. Brown and company heading in polished and subdued hard rock territory but still delivering an ample amount of guitar driven momentum in the process. This is best exhibited on classy mid-tempo hard rockers “Belltown”, “Breathing Still” and the albums reflective title track. Deliverance proves it can still flex its muscles, however, on the classic metal influenced “Speed Of Light” and the up-tempo “After I Fell” while reflecting the more somber feel on the ballads “Now And Then” and “You Still Smile”. The only drawback to River Disturbance comes in the form of the rap based hard rock number “A Little Sleep” and the lackluster feel the quirky “Map” brings to the table.
Originally released on Brainstorm Records, River Disturbance was digitally re-mastered and re-issued by Retroactive Records in late 2007 with new (impressive) artwork and four bonus tracks: “I Thought” (previously unreleased song from the RD sessions), “On The Fritz” (making its initial appearance on the R.E.X. Steve Taylor tribute album I Predict A Clone), “Belltown” (previously unreleased hyper industrial mix) and “A Word From Jimmy P. Brown II” (a 12 minute monologue from vocalist/guitarist Jimmy Brown).
Jimmy Brown puts forth quite the doom-laden and melancholic vocal performance here, his low key but smooth sounding sensibilities bringing to mind a combination of David Bowie and Eric Clayton (Saviour Machine). Brown continues to fill in on rhythm guitar and combines with Jonathan Maddux, who also performed on the bands previous effort Learn, for an abundance of very well done work on lead guitar. Manny Morales returns on 5-string bass and anchors the rhythm section with newcomer Jeff Mason on drums.
Please note that Terry Taylor of Daniel Amos fame, who produced Stay Of Execution and Learn, also handles production duties here and has put together one of the more polished efforts in Deliverance’s repertoire. A crisp sounding rhythm guitar is cleanly blended with a fluid mix of lead guitar and full and pronounced bass lines. The drums rise above the instrumentation as they should.
It is also worth pointing out that the albums title comes from the British author C.S. Lewis, who once wrote about how the believer is literally able to find peace within the “river disturbance”.
After opening to a clashing of symbols, “Belltown” immediately launches into its first verse. The song proceeds to forge ahead to a choppy mix of rhythm guitar, not gaining initiative until it attains a smoothly flowing chorus delivered in near laid back fashion. A guitar solo with a distorted edge helps carry a minute long instrumental section. All in all, a strong and steady album opener.
“After I Fell” begins to a bass guitar solo that segues to an up-tempo collaboration of rhythm guitar and drums. Stopping dead in its tracks, an ethereal setting is established as an acoustic guitar gently compels the song ahead until the rhythm guitar returns to fortify a background driven chorus with an overriding mood-laden vibe. Quite the creative and listenable composition. The lyrics to “After I Fell” focus on God’s forgiveness:
The time between the wait and sleep
A pathway for my open mind to play
Immutable acts forever engrafted into memories eye
Take me as far as east is from the west
Plunge me into your sea of forgetfulness
See of forgetfulness…
A near perfect amalgamation of quietly played guitar and bass gently shores up the albums title track during its first and second verse. Picking up in pace as an edgy rhythm guitar steps forward, “River Disturbance” moves on to a catchy chorus highlighted by the emotional feel to Brown’s vocal delivery. Deliverance displays the strength of its musicianship throughout another sweeping instrumental section. “River Disturbance” talks about peace amidst times of trial:
There is a shore by the river disturbance
There is a place called peace on earth
Make it to the shoreline of the river disturbance
Yeah, you got to go on under for a second birth
The haunting ballad “Now & Then” flows through its first and second verse in an acoustic laded manner, upholding the sublime atmosphere throughout the graceful but melancholic chorus that follows. As its title implies, “Now & Then” reflects upon dealing with the past and the present:
I hear myself say the words of how life’s unfair
It’s come to points where I don’t care
Mine eye’s have seen failure with no wins
Like a story told by a child who does not know
Close your eyes and listen to the words of
Wisdom from those
Who’s innocence has been torn
“Speed Of Light” is by far the albums best track. Getting underway to a drum solo, the song is pushed through its first and second verse by a punchy bass line as the rhythm guitar cascades in and out of the mix. As “Speed Of Light” subtly diminishes to a quietly played guitar, it transitions to an ethereal flavored chorus that twice asks an engaging question:
How can I travel the speed of light?
A searing guitar solo helps lead the way through an extensive instrumental section.
River Disturbance hits a bit of a speed bump on its next two tracks, “A Little Sleep” and “Map”.
Rap music is annoying. And when you combine elements of rap with metal you end up with, well, an annoying metal song. And such is the case with “A Little Sleep”, a gimmicky collaboration with the Christian rap group 12th Tribe. All criticism aside, I would hate to discourage an artist from branching out and experimenting with different forms of music; that being said, “A Little Sleep” is difficult to accept as a Deliverance song: to understand my point try to imagine Rob Rock or Theocracy attempting something like this. My overall feeling is that “A Little Sleep” would probably have been better off if included on a 12th Tribe album instead. Nevertheless, it must be pointed out that Whitecross pulled the same trick on the song “Holy War” (off In The Kingdom from 1991), in which Christian rappers D.O.C. make a guest appearance.
The offbeat “Map” also fails to make the grade. Fading into a few brief seconds of guitar feedback, the song moves forward in rollicking fashion until tapering off for its first verse. “Map” regains its momentum as it obtains a quickly moving chorus on the quirky side of things. This one sounds like an old Daniel Amos outtake. Again, I hate to be critical because I can see others might get into “Map”: it does move at an upbeat tempo and features a fairly solid hook. Just not my cup of tea, I guess.
Deliverance redeems itself by saving some of its best for last in “U Still Smile” and “Breathing Still”.
“You Still Smile”, the albums second ballad, opens quietly to an orchestral blend of piano and rhythm guitar. Slowing as the rhythm guitar drops from the mix, the song delicately moves forward as the piano remains to stand in support of the moody scene during its first verse and a chorus of the to the point variety. The rhythm guitar returns satisfyingly strong to buttress “You Still Smile” at the end of the instrumental section following its second chorus. On “You Still Smile” Brown reveals the enduring love of his wife:
I would leave in the name of love
Let the road become my only one
You would let me live, while you would die
You took my abuse when I should’ve been left
You became my sanity when my mind had spent
If there had been any with a Christ like spirit
I was you for me
The progressive rock influenced “Breathing Still…” commences to a minute long instrumental section carried by a mid-tempo joining of rhythm guitar and bass that gradually picks up in pace. Quickly moving through its verse portions to a hard hitting rhythm guitar, “Breathing Still” makes a time change to a more reduced pace as it gains a hold of a sweeping chorus in which a trace of vocal harmonies highlights the background. A slowly played – almost bluesy – guitar solo carries another extensive instrumental section.
“I Thought”, the first of the four bonus tracks, proves a piece of contrasts as a melancholic joining of bass and drums upholds its verse portions and rhythm guitar a chorus advancing at the more upbeat tempo. Short but concise, this one perfectly aligns itself with the mood and feeling established throughout the album.
The big D brings a “low key and somber” interpretation to the Steve Taylor classic “On The Fritz”. The song, to be honest, proves quite listenable as Brown contributes his doom-like vocal stylings while a forward mix of rhythm guitar pushes things well into hard rock territory. By far my favorite of the bonus material.
I tend to pass on the “hyper remix” of “Belltown”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I fully understand how others might easily embrace this but “hyper remixes” and “dance remixes” – which more often than not end up being drenched in keyboards - have never done it for me. The song, if anything, proves a foreshadowing to the ”electronica” musical direction Jimmy would begin to take on Fearful Symmetry’s debut “This Sad Veil Of Tears”.
Finally, closing things out is “A Word From Jimmy P. Brown II”, a piece including in depth and insightful commentary from the artist as he goes into detail concerning the background and ultimate production of RD.
River Disturbance has a lot of endearing qualities to it. The production is top notch (some of the best of the bands career) while the same can be said for the performance of Jimmy Brown and company. From a songwriting standpoint, Deliverance again shines in that the better material here more than holds its own when compared to that on Stay Of Execution and Learn. Replace “A Little Sleep” and “Map” with two the same quality as the remaining seven and River Disturbance would receive a grade in the 85% to 90% range. In the end, if you are a fan of Deliverance’s previous efforts (again, Stay Of Execution and Learn come to mind) then by all means give River Disturbance the chance. You will not be disappointed.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Belltown” (4:39), “After I Fell” (4:21), “River Disturbance” (6:35), “Now & Then” (4:33), “Speed Of Light” (4:53), “A Little Sleep” (3:44), “Map” (4:52), “You Still Smile” (7:06), “Breathing Still” (8:01)
Jimmy P. Brown II – Lead Vocals, Rhythm & Lead Guitar, 12 String Guitars & Keyboards
Manny Morales – 5 String & Fretless Bass
Jeff Mason – Drums & Percussion
Jonathan Maddux – Rhythm & Lead Guitar
Jon Knox – Drums & Percussion
Gene Eugene – Piano
12th Tribe – Whatever
Also reviewed: Deliverance – Deliverance, Deliverance – Weapons Of Our Warfare, Deliverance – Stay Of Execution, Deliverance Assimilation, Deliverance - As Above - So Below, Deliverance - The First Four Years, Deliverance - Greetings Of Death, Fearful Symmetry – This Sad Veil Of Tear, Jupiter VI - Back From Mars