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 - Weapons Of Our Warfare
   
Musical Style: Speed Metal Produced By: George Ochoa
Record Label: Intense / Bombworks Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 1990 / 2017 Artist Website:
Tracks: 10 Rating: 90%
Running Time: 42:42

Deliverance - Weapons Of Our Warfare

Iconic/iconic/ ·a. 1 of, relating to, or having the characteristics of an icon.  2 widely recognized and well-established. 3 widely known and acknowledged especially for distinctive excellence.

If you are like me, you possess several albums in your collection that over the years garnered an iconic reputation, either by the manner in which they define a band or specific hard music genre.  Of course, first that come to mind are well known and big name heavy hitters, such as eighties metal releases from Bloodgood (Detonation) and Stryper (To Hell With The Devil) not to mention the nineties blues based hard rock of Bride (Snakes In The Playground).  It could also be said that the Christian hard music scene potentially peaked in the early nineties, at least in light of how I highly regard (what in my opinion are) equally iconic releases from the time by Holy Soldier (self-titled), Novella (One Big Sky) and Red Sea (Blood).  That said, if you are also like me then you have several personal favorites that for either sentimental reasons or excellence overall (I am an unabashed ‘prog’ fan) you also place within the iconic category, with mine encompassing albums from Kerry Livgren (Seeds Of Changes), Veni Domine (Material Sanctuary) and Affector (Harmageddon).    

Another album that has gained a well-deserved iconic reputation within speed metal and melodic thrash circles is 1990 Intense Records Deliverance sophomore album Weapons Of Our Warfare.  Released in follow up to the groups 1989 self-titled debut (also Intense), Weapons… has received its share of accolades over the years, including being voted first in a pole from 2010 at Christian Metal Realm of the Top 100 Christian Metal Albums Of All Time (Deliverance placed fourth).  When Heaven’s Metal magazine celebrated its tenth anniversary in 1995 (issue 54), Weapons… was also included among the personal top ten favorites of Mortification bassist and vocalist Steve Rowe and staff writer Brian McGovern.  Helping further lend to its iconic status is how a video to the albums title track gained airplay on MTV and placed among the top three on the Headbanger’s Ball countdown for twelve weeks running (Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich later named “Weapons of Our Warfare” one of his top then metal videos of all time). 

While I might not value Weapons… to quite the same degree, I highly regard it in light of its ‘Metallica cross Queensryche’ sound.  Now, those whom have followed Angelic Warlord over the years know that I tend to shy from thrash metal in that more often than not I am turned off by its penchant for harshly delivered vocals and lack of melody to its songwriting (at least to these ears either way).  That, however, changed with Deliverance in that it stays true to inherent speed metal and thrash qualities in the form of very heavy and fast-paced riffing (Metallica side of things) while separating itself in terms of the high end and soaring vocals of founding member and rhythm guitarist Jimmy P. Brown II (Queensryche part).  It would be an understatement to suggest Deliverance won me over from the manner in which it brought an element of accessibility to the speed metal and thrash forms I have not seen previously or since.

Weapons… also has quite the storied history.  Outside of the original Intense release, it was re-mastered and re-issued by Retroactive Records in 2008 with enhanced cover art and later re-issued twice on vinyl by Roxx Records, with the first in 2014 and second 2017.  Finally, the album was re-mastered a second time and re-issued by Bombworks Records in September of 2017 with a 12 panel booklet exclusive to lyrics and Weapons… era photos.

As its title implies, Weapons… is a semi-concept album based around spiritual warfare.  Opening cut “Supplication”, for example, is a short (1:48) introductory piece that sets the stage with narration from 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 ensued by acoustic guitar followed by pensive rhythm guitar and technical drum rolls.

Subsequent track “This Present Darkness” abruptly cuts in about subtle as a punch to the jaw. With a short drum solo at the start, the song expeditiously (the key word) powers ahead to bludgeoning guitars in rolling through its curt verses while breaking out for its tumultuous ‘but mighty are the weapons of God to combat this present darkness’ refrain.  Best part might be the instrumental interlude, which slows to several seconds of ‘chugga chugga’ riffs before Brown and newcomer George Ochoa, whom replaced the departed Glenn Rogers, blow things up with an explosive run of left to right channel duel lead guitar.

Albums title track proves every bit the no-nonsense mauler in opening its first minute instrumentally as sledgehammer guitars and smoother harmonies tightly coalesce.  Moving ahead, “Weapons of Our Warfare” proves not quite fast as its predecessor but heavier and more intense, with verses yielding a hulking bottom heavy form that - true to the subject at hand - reflect upon the melodramatic (in the most positive sense), while the sleeker chorus finds Brown stretching and exhibiting the full range to his upper end voice.  Hence, the manner in which the song mirrors that Deliverance ‘Metallica cross Queensryche’ sound in question.

Deliverance back from the speed metal proclivities on follow up cut “Solitude” in taking a lengthier (6:05) technical (almost progressive) metal heading similar to that it would pursue on follow up releases such as Stay Of Execution (1992) and Learn (1993).  This is actually one of my albums favorite cuts in that the group fails to back from the heaviness despite a more melodic format, as guitar harmonies galore rule the songs length and Brown again reaches for the upper end stratosphere vocal wise (sort of like Geoff Tate).  This is what prime Deliverance is all about- heavy and intricate but not overbearing at the same time.

Ensuing track “Flesh And Blood”, staying true to the spiritual warfare themes, embodies all of said qualities in upping the breakneck thrash aggression while backing from the melodic penchant to “Solitude”.  Upshot is how the raw power central to the Deliverance sound permeates the songs commanding seven and a half-minute length, as it sets an implacable front-to-back tone that despite the overriding angst fails to touch upon the tedious and repetitious.  Best part might be the extensive instrumental section that begins slow and airy only to gradually build until exploding for a crescendo of thrash like riffs.

“Bought By Blood” is albums lone track in which I struggle, keeping in mind I am not a natural thrash connoisseur.  Perhaps it is the shouted ‘gang vocals’ or Brown singing in a gruffer lower register, but the thrash like sentiments (which almost touch upon a hardcore feel) come across a bit overbearing for my taste.  So I am sure you can understand that by saying I pass on this one it reflects more on musical taste as opposed to quality.

“23”, on the other hand, stands alongside “Solitude” as my favorite Weapons… cuts.  As its title implies, “23” is a take on Psalm 23 and one of the better ones I have heard within Christian metal circles.  Similar to “Solitude” it strays towards the Queensryche side of things as opposed to Metallica, opening in a slow and haunting manner as acoustic guitar takes the song through its ethereal verses until it explodes as emboldened rhythm guitars back a chorus in which verse four is the focal point: ‘You are with me. Your rod and staff, they comfort me’.  Kudos to Ochoa for his deft guitar work, ranging from delicately quiet to keyed-up and focuses to spirited soloing. 

“Slay The Wicked” is another ‘face melter’- and a very good one at that.  Taking things back to heavier territory, the song opens to the sound of a sword drawn from scabbard followed by a head rolling, which sets the foreboding tone for things to come.  The bruising guitars that take over lend to the songs dour feel, as it remorselessly mauls forward until shouted gang vocals and Chris Hyde’s precise double kick drum take over prior to the excited refrain to feature the mother of all falsettos from Brown.  The intensely done lead guitar aligns with the songs provoked feel.  Am I out of line to suggest “Slay The Wicked” mirrors a light power metal feel?  If in doubt, consider how The Sacrificed did a killer cover of the song for the Deliverance tribute CD Temporary Insanity - A Salute To Deliverance from 2010.

Deliverance reaches deep into its archives for “Greetings Of Death”, title track to its well received six-song demo from 1986, which sold a very commendable 5000 copies back in the day (Retroactive later re-issued Greetings… in 2007 with bonus material).  Taking a traditional speed metal heading, the song kicks in furiously at once as accelerated guitar riffs, turbulent rhythm section and lower register vocals carry its length.  In other words, this one is no-nonsense and in your face as it gets!

Closing cut “If We Faint Not” sets a raucous tone from the start, mid-tempo from its crunch heavy guitars and slicing bass of Brian Khairullah but not forsaking accessibility either in that just enough melody rises above the surface to prevent it from straying into repetitive territory.  Impression left is traditional metal elements laced with bare bone thrash leanings, which attributes to the musical versatility innate to Deliverance.  I always identified with Deliverance as bringing a bit more musically to the table than just speed metal and thrash, a particular revealing itself on its post-thrash technical metal era that started with Stay Of Execution from 1992.

Re-mastering to the 2017 re-release, attributing to J Powell at Steinhaus, allows the fine details to stand out that much further in the background, such as the clashing symbols at the start of “Weapons of Our Warfare” and acoustic guitar throughout “23”.  In terms of the foreground, elevated volume levels lend that much more bite and edge to guitars, while drums project added power overall.  Upshot is an added dose of polish that brings a classic from over 25 years ago up to the standards of modern recordings.

The twelve-page booklet to the 2017 re-issue is a step up from the original Intense release, with its plain, single page fold out insert, and 2008 re-issue, better with a multi-page insert.  Highlights include several full color band photos from the groups Weapons… era not to mention the montage of various concert photos, promo pictures, magazine covers, etc.  The Bombworks 2017 re-issue, as a result, is a must for true collectors.

As already noted, Weapons… is a semi-concept album based around spiritual warfare.  Song titles, obviously give this away, such as “This Present Darkness” -  

A constant search for cover
A search for the remnant to pray
But mighty are the weapons of God to
Combat this present darkness

Satan's plan, Complacency
Knowing not the fight for your soul
Don't believe his lies
Just unveil your eyes
Through prayer
Bring down the strongholds

- and “Flesh And Blood”:

The Holy Book makes it clear as to how
We ought to fight
Put on the armor of God
Not by your might
Pray always with all supplication
In the spirit
To the pulling down of strongholds and
Crushing of Satan's plan

For this we wage war
But not against man
This war is with darkness, and not against flesh and blood

Albums title track plays up a similar theme -  

Cast down imaginations of every high thing
That dare exalts itself against the knowledge of God
The weapons of our warfare, powerful they are
No nuclear warfare attacks can bring these strongholds down
To take dominion over Satan's own ground
Rise up with the sword of God and put your armor on

And the weapons of our warfare aren't carnal

- as does “Slay The Wicked”:

Angelic forces fighting the battles
Unseen warriors mighty they are
There is no place where angels fear to tread
Drawing swords of His awesome power
The Word of Truth on their lips
Prevailing over the rulers of this age
Release the power
Not ours, Not angels
But God's above
This is the hour
Demons your fate is sealed

If I had written the review back in the say, I would summarize by reinforcing the improvements made by Deliverance in terms of the writing and recording process between the self-titled debut and Weapons…  Fact is Weapons… finds Deliverance reaching its artistic and creative zenith, at least as far as its speed metal era is concerned (in my opinion, Learn represents the best of the technical metal period).  Again, I have never found much allure in terms of the speed metal and thrash genres, but Deliverance proves one of the rare exceptions (ranking alongside Temple Of Blood, Boarders and Chained in this capacity) with its emphasis on both melodic vocals and songwriting.  If you missed any of the previous versions to Weapons Of Our Warfare - which can demand a pricy sum - or if you are looking for an improvement over those that you already own, then make the 2017 Bombworks re-issue a necessary purchase.

Review by Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “Supplication” (1:48), “This Present Darkness” (2:47), “Weapons Of Our Warfare” (4:25), “Solitude” (6:05), “Flesh And Blood” (7:27), “Bought By Blood” (3:17), “23” (5:49), “Slay The Wicked” (4:03), “Greetings Of Death” (2:49), “If We Faint Not” (4:25)

Musicians
Jimmy P. Brown II - Lead Vocals & Guitars
George Ochoa - Guitars
Brian Khairullah - Bass
Chris Hyde – Drums

Review by: Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “Supplication” (1:48), “This Present Darkness” (2:47), “Weapons Of Our Warfare” (4:25), “Solitude” (6:05), “Flesh And Blood” (7:27), “Bought By Blood” (3:17), “23” (5:49), “Slay The Wicked” (4:03), “Greetings Of Death” (2:49), “If We Faint Not” (4:25)

Musicians
Jimmy P. Brown II - Lead Vocals & Guitars
George Ochoa - Guitars
Brian Khairullah - Bass
Chris Hyde - Drums

 

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
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