Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Deliverance - The Subversive Kind
Musical Style: Thrash Metal Produced By:
Record Label: 3 Frogz / Roxx Records Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 2017 Artist Website:
Tracks: 8 Rating: 85%
Running Time:

Deliverance - The Subversive Kind

Sometimes you have to answer to the critics, regardless of whether or not they are right or wrong.  Whether or not the critics are right or wrong as it pertains to Deliverance is debatable, but what few can debate is the fact there are not many bands that have had more critics in which to answer than Deliverance.  Hence, how it comes as no surprise that the critics remain in full force concerning The Subversive Kind, the eleventh Deliverance studio album scheduled for joint release via Roxx Records and 3 Frogz Records on February 23, 2018.

Better known as the ‘Big D’, Deliverance got its start playing a hybrid of melodic speed metal and thrash on its groundbreaking 1989 Intense Records self-titled debut (85% Angelic Warlord review) and every bit acclaimed 1990 Intense sophomore effort Weapons Of Our Warfare (90% review).  On third album What A Joke from 1991, however, Deliverance started to branch out by interspersing its signature speed metal and thrash with occasional forays into ‘technical metal’, a form that came to define follow up releases Stay Of Execution (1992), Learn (1993), River Disturbance (1994) and Camelot In Smithereens (1995). 
Critical consensus was divided over Deliverance’s newfound technical metal ways, with most reviewers supportive (noting our 85% review of Stay Of Execution) but not necessarily fans, whom longed for the days of the self-titled debut or waited with bated breath for ‘Weapons Pt. 2’.  Alas, it failed to materialize, in that Deliverance further distanced itself from fan expectations with the industrial metal of Assimilation (2001), an underrated work that also received (and very deserving I might add) an 85% Angelic Warlord review.  Nevertheless, the group’s followers started to get their hopes up on subsequent efforts As Above - So Below (2007) and Hear What I Say! (2013) from how they revisit the groups technical metal ways while imparting thrash based moments not unlike the glory days of the past. 

Enter The Subversive Kind, which represents a ‘return to form’ of the Deliverance old school speed metal and thrash beginnings.  The groups press material summarizes accordingly:

“We’re going to give you the fan what you’ve been asking for and what you want- the old school thrash days of DELIVERANCE.  Everything you’ve always loved about DELIVERANCE since the Greetings Of Death days you’re going to get it with this record”.

True to form, Deliverance has recorded in The Subversive Kind an old school thrash album complete with all the expected trimmings: unrelenting fast tempos, aggressive riffing, tenacious drumming, shredding guitar leads and middle register vocals of a terse and brusque variety.  Despite the ‘Big D’ ultimately delivering the thrash album as promised, critical consensus again rears its ugly head in that many fans are still unhappy (The Subversive Kind was released in December to those that helped crowd fund it).  What is the problem? 

In visiting various Facebook pages and hard music related message boards, complaints revolve around a lack of melody to The Subversive Kind material.  I am not going to beat around the bush, but it IS an album distinctive to thrash metal, a genre not necessarily known for a great deal of melody in the first place- so what was everyone expecting? 

Regardless, it is unlikely anyone is going to suggest that first two cuts, “Bring ‘Em Down”, a furious assault of fragmenting riffs and pummeling drums, and “Concept Of The Other”, four minutes of pure aggression about subtle as an incoming hand grenade, are accessible.  Likewise, third piece “Center Of It All” ups tempo to speed metal levels while contrastingly slowing for its ‘chugga chugga’ instrumental interlude.  Impression left (and this applies to all the albums material) is not necessarily melodic but rather catchy in terms of the riffs and hooks.

Part of the problem revolves around the fact Deliverance aficionados might have been expecting a return to the MELODIC (emphasis added) speed metal and thrash of Deliverance and Weapons… but the fact is that is NOT what we have in The Subversive Kind.  Rather, by a return to form the group is hearkening back to its 1985 Greetings Of Death demo and thrash based material from What A Joke with their emphasis on lower register vocals as opposed to the ‘Metallica cross Queensryche’ sound of the iconic first two albums.  In other words, founding member and vocalist/rhythm guitarist Jimmy P. Brown II sidesteps any high-pitched vocal aspects of the past and instead reaches down vocally with a style I might describe instead as course and gruff but always in step with the thrash nature to the material here.

Now, in no way am I implying that Deliverance lost its touch for melody; rather the opposite holds true as found in “The Black Hand”.  Yes, this one is thrash as anything here - opening seconds feature a breakdown that brings to mind the Weapons Of Our Warfare title track - but also smoothes for a surprisingly catchy refrain in which Brown switches to the somber classic tenor characteristic to the groups technical metal days.  Along similar lines, “The Subversive Kind” also finds Brown unveiling the even side to his delivery on a cut once more topped off with melody but also does not back from the frenetic if not incensed feel inherent to each of the albums cuts.

Other complaints the so-called critics have raised is that The Subversive Kind sounds too much like The Crucified.  No doubt, The Crucified is highly regarded, but nothing to the album remotely resembles the group’s distinct hardcore crossover punk/thrash sound.  The only thing I can think of is that perhaps due to two former The Crucified members performing on The Subversive Kind - drummer Jim Chaffin and guitarist Greg Minier - there might be some underlining influences but nothing to warrant direct comparison.

The area in which I agree with those voicing concern, however, pertains to the album being a bit short in featuring eight songs and less than 32 minutes of music, which almost places it in EP territory.  I understand that good songs do not grow on trees and studio time is not cheap; that said, I wish the group had come up with an extra song or two to push the album into the 40-minute range.  Or better yet, I am surprised Deliverance did not compose a six to seven minute ‘epic’ as it has done in the past, referencing previous lengthy cuts “Awake” (off Deliverance), “Flesh & Blood” (Weapons Of Our Warfare) and “Pseudo Intellectual” (What A Joke).

Where I am forced but to differ is with those that suggest The Subversive Kind places little emphasis on guitar solos.  Repeat listen reveals this a misnomer when factoring how each of the albums tracks include a lead guitar break of decent length to feature not only Minier but also original Deliverance guitarist Glen Rogers, whom re-joined the group in time to lend his brash soloing abilities.
Consider “Epilogue” in this capacity, as found in its affiliating subtle melody and thick as it gets Impelliteri style guitars with a stretch of soloing to reflect an almost bluesy feel.  Likewise, “Listen Closely”, thrash all the way but also imparting some slower doom like tendencies and understated hooks, and “The Fold”, this reviewers choice cut with its anthem like Maidenseque riffs and dogged as it gets refrain, are also emboldened with lead guitar but of a more flashy variety.

One cannot help but ask if any of the so-called critics and naysayers even bothered to listen closely to the album.  It reminds of a fan at a message board who posted a bucket list of problems he had with The Subversive Kind only to sum up by stating ‘that said I only listened to the album once’.  Really?  Only a single listen?  Unbelievable!  Let’s face facts: sometimes an album needs time to make a case for itself, and The Subversive Kind is one such album.  I know first impressions are lasting, but they are also not always accurate in the world of hard music in that if like me, your music collection is full of CD’s in which on first listen you formed impression A of album B, but with repeat listen came to conclusion C, which could not differ more from impression A.  Does that make sense?    

My advice to those initially up in arms or disappointed with The Subversive Kind is to take a deep breath, grab a cup of coffee, and sit down, relax and clear your head for a couple minutes.  Then approach the album a second time with an open mind but also set aside all expectations nor come to any immediate conclusions.  Rather, give the album a minimum of half a dozen listens - or do like me and spend the better part of a week listening to it in the car during the commute to and from work - and then form a final opinion.

I knew going in that expectations are going to approach the unreasonable and emotions correspondingly high as it relates to any new Deliverance album returning to the thrash days of old.  For example, can you imagine if 40 years ago The Beatles reunited to record a new album?  Fans would be protesting in the streets over the fact it might not be up to the standards of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Revolver, while reviewers would be taking their shots as well.

No, I am not comparing Deliverance to The Beatles, but I think there are lessons we can learn from somewhat similar circumstances.  It begins with accepting The Subversive Kind for what it is: a return to the group’s old school thrash days but not necessarily a return to the melodic speed metal and thrash to Deliverance and Weapons…  It, however, also encompasses the fact if you like Deliverance and Weapons… then The Subversive Kind should appeal to your tastes but accept it as its own unique completely different work, which I cannot help but feel what the ‘Big D’ intended it to be all along.

Review by Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “Bring 'Em Down” (3:37), “Concept Of The Other” (3:52), “Center Of It All” (3:40), “The Black Hand” (3:50), “Epilogue” (3:59), “Listen Closely” (3:26), “The Subversive Kind” (4:12), “The Fold” (4:30)

Jimmy P Brown II - Lead Vocals & Guitars
Greg Minier - Guitars
Glenn Rogers - Guitars
Victor Macias - Bass
Jim Chaffin - Drums


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