|Musical Style: Metal/Thrash||Produced By: Bill Bafford & Arttie Parker|
|Record Label: Roxx Productions||Country Of Origin: Varies|
|Year Released: 2010||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 30||Rating: No Quote|
|Running Time: 141:40|
What better way to open a Deliverance tribute CD review than to offer my thoughts in regards to the group. In other words, what we have here is a reviewer’s way of providing tribute to what is one of the more influential and longstanding acts in Christian metal history.
My earliest Deliverance memories date back to an old issue of White Throne that reviewed the California Metal compilation, which included the well known tracks “A Space Called You” and “Attack”. I could not help but be intrigued when the reviewer described Deliverance as “Metallica and Megadeth meeting Motorhead” or, more specifically, “Metallica meets Stryper”.1 “A Space Called You”, of course, is the more melodic of the two while “Attack” heads in the faster and heavier direction. I always felt that both provided a good introduction to what Deliverance is about. Founding member Jimmy P. Brown, on the other hand, offers a different opinion: “California Metal is a real understatement of what we are. I hate the way the two songs turned out. That’s just not us to me”.2
If anything, you could say that Deliverance’s self-titled debut (1989) makes the better “statement” about the group with its “melodically-orientated power, speed and thrash metal” approach (as described in the White Throne review). The same review suggests the album is “heavily influenced by Metallica” but that “Deliverance is more diverse musically”. What stands out for me are the vocals. The reviewer continues: “The difference between Deliverance and Vengeance (Rising) and Believer is that Jimmy Brown’s vocals need no lyric sheet to be understood”.3 Never a big thrash fan, I am more often than not turned off by the harsher vocal style characteristic to the genre but find Brown, with his high end and melodic style, a refreshing change of pace. Brown sums things up best: “When we first got together, we were totally shooting for the Metallica cross Queensryche sound”.4
In regards to Deliverance’s sophomore release Weapons Of Our Warfare (1990), Brown describes it as a “semi concept album. Definitely its focus is spiritual warfare, but it tries to move the focus in upon our own individual fights in the Spirit.”5 Musically, it is widely considered one of the top albums in the annals of Christian metal. My 90% review of Weapons… described it as “(taking) things to the next level in comparison to (the self-titled debut)- an album that was already very, very good to begin with.” A recent pole of the Top 100 Christian Metal Albums of All Time at the Christian Metal Realm even voted Weapons… in first place (the self-titled debut took fourth). Ironically, the album could not even crack the top 100 in a similar pole at Heaven’s Metal magazine (the debut placed third).
With two albums under his belt, Brown provides his thoughts in regards to the Christian metal scene (at the time): “It’s very difficult to accept the mediocrity we see in Christian circles. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking record companies or promoters, fans or the bands, this whole Christian complacency thing is hurting us all. We as believers are sadly satisfied with substandard levels of ministry, walk and performance. I have one thing to say, man, it’s not right, it’s not Biblical, and we’re displeasing to a hold and righteous God who requires our best for Him”.5
Deliverance lost some of its focus on What A Joke (1991). Part of the problem revolved around a demanding touring schedule, which prevented the band from spending the time it would like on songwriting. Further insight from Brown: “We were getting ready to go in and record What A Joke. We hadn’t had any material. We were busy with touring. As time went on, we lost time for writing.” He goes on to express his disappointment in the album: “We went in to record What A Joke and inevitably it was. I hate bagging the record but it wasn’t very good of a record. I threw together all those riffs in a matter of a week and we rehashed a bunch of old songs because we just didn’t have anything”.6
Stay Of Execution (1992) found Deliverance distancing itself from the speed metal and thrash genres. While still heavy AND fast, Deliverance placed a bit more emphasis on vocals this time around. In the words of Brown: “I love to sing, so this new album gives me a chance to really use my voice. Some people have said my new vocal style reflects the influence of Queensryche’s Geoff Tate, but most people describe it as David Bowie joining Deliverance”.7
In regards to the change in musical direction, Brown sums things up best (about the turmoil over the change in question with former guitarist George Ochoa): “Unfortunately, our directions were clashing for years. We were almost on our way out with the whole speed metal thing and he was barely getting into the stuff. Me, Brian (Khairullah- bass), Chris (Hyde- drums) had been doing this stuff since ’85. You started seeing the clash of styles with What A Joke”.6 White Throne, ever so perceptive in its reviews, described SOE as “(redefining the Deliverance) sound, and brought them closer to the mainstream. All this without compromising the bands integrity”.8
Speaking of integrity, Brown stands in support of the decision to pursue new musical territory: “An artist has to have integrity. Some people don’t understand it and some people do. You have to be happy with what you’re doing, because if you’re not happy with what you’re doing then you’re just doing it for the people to buy it. To me, that’s selling out; but if you’re doing something that you’re happy with as an artist and you know that it’s from your heart and you created it, whether people hate it or live it doesn’t really matter”.9
A legitimate case can be made that Learn (1993) represents Deliverance’s finest artistic statement. Yes, Weapons… gets the accolades (and deservingly so) but Learn stands out with its unique combination of heaviness and moodiness, low-end melody structures and philosophical lyrics. The artist’s thoughts: “The music is extremely heavy; at least that’s how everyone is describing it. It’s a perfect take off from Stay Of Execution. The vocal direction is going to be the same as Stay…, if not even more progressed along those lines”.10 Heaven’s Metal described Learn as “a killer album that’s as heavy as stink… (and that) those who have gotten over the shock that Deliverance isn’t going to crank out speed metal… are going to love this slab of hard music. For those who haven’t gotten over the shock yet… wake up!”11 I wrote a 95% review of Learn some time ago but, for reasons unknown, never uploaded it. Perhaps I need to do so. Also, for those that are wondering: Learn was ranked 56 at the CMR pole and 58 by Heaven’s Metal.
“I think River Disturbance (1994) is one of the most expressive, emotional records that have been put out – that and Learn – in this whole Christian scene”, sums up Brown regarding the groups six full length album.12 About the title he offers: “In the midst of this river disturbance the flood’s coming, the tide is raging, and everything is just nutso. But, in the middle of the flood, while your drowning, you can feel the hand of God reaching in, and you can actually find peace”.13 Musically, it continued in the direction started with Stay Of Execution, albeit a bit more polished and subdued this time around (as described in my 75% review). Heaven’s Metal offers further insight: “We still hear a theatrical “David Bowie meets Eric Clayton” vocal sound layered on top of a full and heavy bottom end and progressive chord structure- almost like mixing the dream high end with the doomy low end.”14
Camelot In Smithereens (1995) received a rave review at HM: “I think Jimmy Brown and company have finally produced something that’s one up on their heroes- Queensryche. A few times they sound like their Seattle-based metal heroes but most of the time they sound like what Queensryche should sound like”.15 While I might not go that far in my praise of CIS, I think it is a solid work – although a bit on the dark and moody side of things – that, in my opinion, rates a notch below Learn but higher than River Disturbance. Production, again my opinion, is the best of the post Weapons… era releases (at least up to this point). Brown divulges the meaning behind the title: “CIS is a metaphorical type title. Camelot represents a perfect dream world, and Smithereens means being blow to bits. We as Christians are in a dream world and it’s time we blow it to bits”.16
Deliverance broke up following the release of CIS only to return six years later with Assimilation (2001). Resistance is futile? Perhaps, although the album does present with a change in musical direction: maintaining the doomy Bowie vocals and heavy guitar sound but this time incorporating elements of industrial and electronica. It works in that, according to my 85% review, it is “perhaps the most musically consistent effort from the band since its critically acclaimed 1993 work Learn”. Brown, however, has other thoughts: “Assimilation, which was released in 2001, was a mistake. That was a record that should have never been made. Although there were some choice cuts on it, it wasn’t a Deliverance comeback record”.17 I wish that Deliverance would re-record this one up to their standards and expectations (the songwriting is that good).
Another six years passed before Deliverance put out its most recent outing, As Above – So Below. This one found the group hearkening back to some of its speed metal and thrash roots while staying true to the sound it has pursued since Stay Of Execution. I guess you could call it an effective combination of the old and the new. The 90% Angelic Warlord review offers the following summary: “Showcasing a guitar driven sound that is perhaps the heaviest of Deliverance’s career, the album can best be described as a creative blending of the aggressive and melodic certain to appeal to fans of all eras of the bands history.” It also finds the return of guitarist Michael Phillips – perhaps the best shredder in Deliverance history – who made his last appearance on SOE. In a Heaven’s Metal interview prior to the release of the album, Brown and Phillips agreed that they “wanted to just get back to basics with some great melodic, technical, powerful metal”.18 And that sums things up best.
At this point I am sure you are asking: Is there a review here somewhere? Yes, I am just now getting to that- thanks for the patience and sticking with me this far!
The purpose of the Deliverance tribute CD, entitled Temporary Insanity: A Salute To Deliverance and released by Roxx Productions in the summer of 2010, was to celebrate the group’s 25th anniversary. The project actually originated at the Christian Metal Real forum in 2009. CMR owner Arttie Parker goes into further detail: “This CD started out in our online forum well over a year ago when some of the bands that frequent the board wanted to do a few tribute songs to Deliverance, then I started talking with Bill (Bafford) over at Roxx Productions about it and it morphed in to a full on tribute CD with tons of artists in the mainstream thrash and Christian metal scenes all wanting to contribute to this project and give props to Deliverance as you can easily see by looking at the list of bands and artists we have lined up!”
Temporary Insanity features a variety of artists – some current and some not so current – that pay tribute to Deliverance by recording one or more songs each for the project. The end result is a two CD set featuring 30 songs from well known groups such as Oil, Stricken, Faith Factor, Venia, Eternal Decision, The Sacrificed, Unforsaken, Incarnate and Applehead/Fasedown. A couple of not so well known artists are included as well – Whisper From Heaven and Crucible Divine (trust me, these two are going to be household names in the near future) – along with several “all star” projects in Ghost Temple, FaseUltified and Walk On Water. Deliverance, at the same time, re-recorded two of its classics of the past, “Flesh & Blood” and “In U”, in addition to adding one previously unreleased track in “The Hunger And The Thirst”.
As you could imagine, a variety of styles are presented in the process, ranging from Deliverance style speed metal and thrash to melodic metal, straightforward hard rock, power metal, modern rock, classic metal, Gothic/industrial metal and techno/keyboard driven rock.
At this point credit must be give to Roxx Productions and the Christian Metal Realm for successfully implementing such an ambitious endeavor. As a matter of fact, as far as this reviewer can tell, this is one of the few (if only) tribute albums to come out of the Christian metal scene (The Sweet Family Music: A Tribute To Stryper CD that was released some time ago, made up mostly of grunge/modern/punk/death bands, does not count). Which begs for the following question to be answered: When will we finally see tribute albums recorded for other well known groups such as Stryper (one that gets it right!), Bride, Resurrection Band, Petra and others?
The quality of Temporary Insanity is such that complaints are few and far between. The only thing I might point out is the lack of contribution from some of the bigger names in the scene. Well known thrash bands such as Tourniquet, Believer, Mortification and Ultimatum, for instance, were not included. Theocracy is another name worth mentioning (I can see them doing a killer cover of “23”) while Jacobs Dream, with the low-key and doomy vocals of Chaz Bond, would be a perfect fit for just about any track off Stay Of Execution.
The project is also not international enough in scope. Yes, it includes contributions from two Canadian bands (Unforsaken & Incarnate) and one from Finland (Venia) but the burgeoning Christian metal movement from Northern Europe was otherwise ignored. ReinXeed would sound right at home covering “Solitude” (if anyone can hit those high notes its Tommy Johansson) and Veni Domine would be in their natural element doing a “doom-ish” and “proggy” version of “1990”.
And while we are at it, the Christian progressive rock scene was completely overlooked. Perhaps Neal Morse could have been brought in to do a 25 minute rendering of “After I Fell”. Come to think of it, this might not have been such a good idea after all…
Please note in no way am I criticizing the label or production team for the exclusion of said artists. As far as I know, all (or most) might have been contacted and either declined to or could not participate.
In moving forward, instead of doing my usual track by track (you really did not think I would bring you this far only to force you to sit through a breakdown of all 30 songs did you?) I thought it would be better to instead break things down by each disc, with the focus on songs that work (“Hits”), those that don’t (“Misses”) and those in which my expectations were exceeded (“Pleasantly Surprised”).
Hits One of the highlights to the first disc are the Deliverance re-recordings. “Flesh And Blood” maintains its trademark power – both musically and lyrically – while featuring the tighter production. Michael Phillips handles lead guitar and leaves original guitarist George Ochoa in the dust. Awesome song. “In U” is still an emotional piece but now comes across heavier in addition to reflecting a bit more of a progressive edge (it has been carried out an extra two minutes).
Faith Factor’s “Weapons Of Our Warfare” stays true to the original but finds lead vocalist Ski, best known for his high end vocal approach, bringing a complementary low-key feel to his delivery. Venia, a group that joins elements of power metal and thrash, hits the nail on the head on “Desperate Cries”. The female vocals of Veronica Solje add an atmospheric touch to what was already a sublime track. Ghost Temple is a “super group” that finds vocalist Josh Kramer (Saint) joining forces with guitarist Matt Smith (Theocracy) for a classic metal take of “If We Faint Not”. Kramer wails with abandon while Smith adds some very ably done guitar work.
Misses Oil does “Attack” the way it was meant to be: full on energy and excellent production but the vocals of Ron Rinehart come across to scratchy and raw for my taste. Likewise, vocals hold back Grave Forsaken’s “Bought By Blood” – again, a bit too much on the abrasive side of things – while I am on the fence with “No Time” by Stricken. Yes, the band delivers a ton of youthful energy but I have always struggled with the “screamy” vocals of many modern metal bands. I can see others getting into this. The same can be said for FaseUltified. The projects second super group does a competent cover of “What A Joke”, but the vocals of Scott Waters, a highly respected front man in the thrash metal scene, can be a bit of an acquired taste- at least for those not fans of the thrash genre.
Pleasantly Surprised When I saw that “Belltown” was going to be covered by Applehead/Fasedown, I was left wondering which band was going to show up: Is it the grunge of Applehead or metal core of Fasedown? Fortunately, neither in that what we have here is a straightforward hard rock version of the song with fitting gravelly vocals and edgy guitars. I was prepared to dismiss the second “Belltown” cover, this time by Eternal Decision, but the vocals work to perfection in walking a fine line between classic metal and thrash (sort of like Mike Vance of Armageddon). Whisper From Heaven and its female fronted Gothic metal rendering of “Anymore” (an underrated deep cut from Camelot In Smithereens) is one of my favorite disc one tracks. Sort of reminds me of Virgin Black. Excellent guitar solo. I want to hear more from this group!
Hits Deliverance opens disc two with its cover of “The Hunger And The Thirst” (originally done by the alternative rock band Vector on its 1983 debut Mannequin Virtue). Musically, it’s a haunting piece that would fit nicely with the River Disturbance and Camelot In Smithereens era of the group’s history. It also includes one of the vaguest lyrical statements ever. “Within the needy and the needed/Lies the hunger and the thirst”. After nearly thirty years I am still trying to figure this one out…
The Sacrificed provide a face melting cover of “Slay The Wicked” that does not deviate much from the original- not that it needs to because, as the old saying goes, if it is not broken then do not fix it. Great range by vocalist Eli Prinson. Unforsaken serves up a quality melodic metal remake of “Stay Of Execution” that finds Thomas Wilson shining with his trademark rich and textured vocal delivery. The only thing missing is the ringing telephone prior to the guitar solo, which is very capably handled by Jon Hooper. Wilson also contributes vocals to “Victory” by the metal and thrash that is his side project Incarnate. You will find a good joining of melody and heaviness along with traces of keyboards that add an eerie touch.
Misses I cannot get into the Sesame Street metal of Krig and its cover of “Weapons Of Our Warfare”. I had no idea the Cookie Monster was hiring itself out as a thrash vocalist. The same type of grating vocal performance ruins “Prophets Of Idiocy” by Saint Spirit. The projects worst production can be found on Vision Of Reality’s “Blood Of The Covenant”. While I appreciate the bands punk-like anger and energy, the song sounds as if recorded on a boom box in someone’s garage. Finally, Leper takes a spirited melodic thrash piece in “The Call” and turns it into a goopy and overdone keyboard laden glob of jelly.
Pleasantly Surprised “What A Joke” is a great song and Coriolis makes it even better. The band joins swirling keyboards and what sounds like programmed drums with metal edged guitars to create an almost industrial based environs. Needless to say it works. Walk On Water contributes a very fine cover of “Learn”. The group, with vocalist Thomas Wilson leading the way, brings a bluesy hard rock slant and nails things perfectly. Jon Hooper handles the gritty guitar duties while Chris Dickens (Mission Of One) furnishes a killer bass line. It is good to hear somebody finally get “The Call” right as Bi-Polar Echo does with its female fronted high energy take. Crucible Divine will be certain to rank with the best bands you more than likely never heard of. It’s dramatic rendering of “Ramming Speed” – my all time favorite Deliverance tune – lends itself to some power and progressive overtones while featuring high end (almost operatic) vocals that hint of Matt Harding (Apostle).
Track Listing (Disc One): Deliverance - “Flesh And Blood” (8:12), Deliverance – “In U” (6:19), Oil – “Attack” (3:39), Applehead/Fasedown – “Belltown” (4:40), Lambs Among Wolves – “Greetings Of Death” (2:48), Stricken – “No Time” (4:34), “Faseultified – “What A Joke” (6:11), Grave Robber – “Awake” (3:53), Ghost Temple – “If We Faint Not” (4:26), Faith Factor – “Weapons Of Our Warfare” (4:27), Whispers From Heaven – “Anymore” (4:55), Venia – “Desperate Cries” (4:02), Days Of Affliction – “River Disturbance” (6:22), Grave Forsaken – “Bought By Blood” (3:47), Eternal Decision – “Belltown” (4:41)
Track Listing (Disc Two) – Deliverance – “The Hunger And The Thirst” (3:47), Oil – “Screaming” (4:37), The Sacrificed – “Slay The Wicked” (4:03), Coriolis – “What A Joke” (6:23) , Krig – “Weapons Of Our Warfare” (4:54), Lepar – “The Call” (3:47), Unforsaken – “Stay Of Execution” (4:07), Crucible Divine – “Ramming Speed” (5:58), Walk On Water – “Learn” (4:21), Vision Of Reality – “Blood Of The Covenant” (5:02), Saint Spirit – “Prophets Of Idiocy” (3:26), Bloodpaid – “Words To The…” (4:32), Bi-Polar Echo – “The Call” (4:41), Incarnate- “Victory” (4:40), Pastor Brad – “A Space Called Your” (4:12)
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2. “Deliver Us From Wimpy Music: Deliverance”. Heaven’s Metal 17 (1988): 11-14.
3. Muttillo, Dave. “Deliverance review”. White Throne 6 (1989): 23.
4. Van Pelt, Doug. “The Temporarily Insane Deliverance Interview”. Heaven’s Metal 23 (1990): 16-18.
5. Schmutzer, Steve. “Deliverance – Daring To Deliver”. Heaven’s Metal 27 (1990) 2 & 4.
6. Mutillo, Dave. “Kings Of Speed”. White Throne 13 (1993): 42-43 & 45.
7. “Staying With Deliverance”. Heaven’s Metal 37 (1992): 8-10.
8. Emerson H., J. “Stay Of Execution review”. White Throne 13 (1993): 32.
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10. Wilson, Jerry. “Deliverance: Still Learning & Teaching”. Heaven’s Metal 43 (1993): 14 & 70.
11. Van Pelt, Doug. “Learn review”. Heaven’s Metal 44(1993): 40.
12. McGovern, Brian Vincent. “A Decade Of Deliverance.” Heaven’s Metal 54 (1995): 14.
13. MacIntosh, Dan. “Deliverance: Riding The River Disturbance.” Heaven’s Metal 50 (1994): 16 & 27.
14. Van Pelt, Doug. “River Disturbance review.” Heaven’s Metal 51 (1995): 42 & 44.
15. Van Pelt, Doug. “Camelot In Smithereens review.” HM 58 (1996): 56.
16. McCabe, Ginny. “Deliverance.” HM 58 (1996): 26.
17. Tinker, John. “Jimmy Brown interview.” Heaven’s Metal 66 (2007): 10-11 & 14.
18. McCormack, Jeff. “Wanted: Deliverance.” Heaven’s Metal 70 (2007): 18.