|Musical Style: Melodic Metal/Hard Rock||Produced By: Brian Bart & Ceasar Kalinowski|
|Record Label: Intense||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 1987||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 8||Rating: 40%|
|Running Time: 33:00|
The mid-eighties happened to be a very exciting time musically that saw a literal flood of Christian metal bands – some good and some, well, not so good – come out of the wood work following the commercial success of Stryper. Minnesota’s Dual Edge deserves to be mentioned with those bands. The ultimate question, nonetheless, revolves around whether Dual Edge ranks with the good or, well, not so good. While quality is always a matter of perception, that is the question this review attempts to answer…
Dual Edge got its start by recording a demo tape before becoming the first band to sign with Intense Records (the same label that also brought us Deliverance and Sacred Warrior). Knock ‘Em Alive, the bands 1987 full length Intense debut, is a re-mixed version of the demo in question with the track “Open Your Eyes” replaced by “Follow Your Dreams”. Playing an eighties influenced blend of melodic metal and hard rock, I might compare Dual Edge to Stryper, Holy Soldier, Eternal Ryte, Straightway, Motley Crue, Poison, Dokken and a host of others. Lead vocalist Scott Turner contributes a good raspy and melodic tinged vocal style that at times reminds be a bit of Jamie Rowe (Guardian, Adrian Gale). While I find his performance to be fairly even and consistent throughout, he does exhibit a few strained and shaky moments on tracks such as “Be With You” and “New Life”. Lead guitarist Rick Wald is by far the bands most talented musicians. Quite the exciting shredder, he can really cut loose with some fiery lead work which is best displayed on “New Life” and “Take It To The Bank”. It is too bad we have never heard from this guy again. Bassist John Avery and drummer Terry Steinmeyer round out the rhythm section.
So, what is there not to like here? The songs. To put it bluntly, at this early stage in its career Dual Edge has not yet mastered the art of writing a song with a good catchy hook. The band has penned some legitimate winners in “Fight For The Light” and “Knock ‘Em Alive”; on the other hand, others such as “Take It To The Bank”, “The Light” and “Follow Your Dreams” cannot help but force me to hit the “fast forward” button. (Please note that Knock ‘Em Alive was never “officially” released on CD – I am sure there are a few bootleg CD copies floating around out there – and, as a result, I wrote this review while listening to an old cassette copy I pulled off eBay.) What it all comes down to is that Dual Edge should be placed in the same category as Tempest (A Coming Storm era), Messiah Prophet Band (Rock The Flock era) or even Barren Cross (Rock For The King era)- all young bands brimming with potential that had a few rough edges that first needed to be smoothed out. With that in mind, vast improvements were made by Tempest (Eye Of The Storm), Messiah Prophet (Master Of The Metal) and Barren Cross (Atomic Arena) on their sophomore efforts, but Dual Edge, unfortunately, was never given a second chance in that subsequent to Knock ‘Em Alive it was never heard from again. Which is too bad, because based upon the level of talent displayed here any follow up effort recorded by the band had the potential to be killer. White Throne staff writer Dave Muttillo summed things up best in his 1988 review of Knock ‘Em Alive:
The band’s playing skills are there; it’s the writing which needs to improve if they are to compete with Stryper, Holy
Soldier and Stryken, much less compete with Ratt, Poison and Motley Crue.1
Production values are of the low budget and demo-like variety. The rhythm section sounds buried, while the rhythm guitar often lacks the needed edge and crispness. These are the type of problems that only experience and extra time in the studio can rectify.
The acappella vocal harmonies at the start of album opener “Lift Him Up” give way to a crisp sounding rhythm guitar, the up-tempo momentum maintained as the song advances on a chorus held back by the overly protracted manner in which it is conveyed. “Lift Him Up” focuses on doing exactly that:
Now, you feel a little bit lonely
Lift Him up -
You’ve got to want to change your life
Take a look at this world and tell me
Is it worth the price?
Life Him up -
Several seconds of open air rhythm guitar gets “Fight For The Light” underway before it kicks into high gear. Advancing through its first verse to a touch of vocal harmonies, the song culminates for a raucous chorus backed by just the right amount of edgy rhythm guitar. Wald steps to the plate with several seconds of fast fingered lead guitar work.
Things start to go downhill with “Be With You”. The song moves through its verse portions at a slower more mid-tempo pace as an open air rhythm guitar stands in support of Turner’s raspy vocal delivery. Gaining impetus as the rhythm section steps forward in full force, “Be With You” obtains a chorus that falls way short of the mark due to its pedestrian feel.
“New Life” is a very fine bluesy hard rocker that ranks with the albums best. The song opens in a hard rocking manner to a scream from Turner before a nice bluesy effect is created as it tapers off for its guitar driven verse portions. Picking up in pace, “New Life” culminates as it reaches a good grit-laden and sass flavored chorus. Wald again puts his talent on display, carrying an extensive instrumental section with his blistering lead guitar work. “New Life” is a song of faith:
Whoa, it really doesn’t matter to me
In a world that’s full of hate, God set me free
Now I’m living for someone above
Now I’m living to show the world my love
The albums title track is its heaviest and most guitar driven effort. After slowly fading in, a choppy rhythm guitar takes over and pushes “Knock ‘Em Alive” forward hard and heavy to a punchy chorus that ends as its title is continually repeated in good aggressive fashion. A nice gritty blues based guitar solo reminds me of Rick Hunter (Soldier, Walk the Sky) at his best.
“Take It To The Bank”, on the other hand, is the albums least compelling composition. The song begins to several seconds of open air rhythm guitar before advancing at an upbeat tempo to a chorus that, for a lack of better words, I might describe as repetitious at best. Another sweeping instrumental section again allows Wald to showcase his abilities but it is not enough to put things over the top.
Likewise, “The Light” and “Follow Your Dreams” are both characterized by their lack of notable melodies. “The Light” is a particularly watered down track, held in check by the redundant feel to its sing-along chorus, while “Follow Your Dreams” comes across equally non-descript and colorless but does highlight another terrific distorted solo from Wald.
In closing, there are three good songs here- “Fight For The Light, “New Life” and “Knock ‘Em Alive”. The rest of the albums material, unfortunately, reflects the bands obvious lack of experience. That being said, a dearth of talent does not hold Dual Edge back and, with that in mind, any follow up effort recorded by the band had the potential to be great. But it never happened in that following the release of Knock ‘Em Alive Dual Edge drifted into obscurity.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Lift Him Up”, “Fight For The Light”, “Be With You”, “New Life”, “Knock ‘Em Alive”, “Take It To The Bank”, “The Light”, “Follow Your Dreams”
Scott Turner – Lead Vocals
Rick Wald – Guitars
John Avery – Bass
Terry Steinmeyer – Drums
1. Dave Muttillo, “Dual Edge – Knock ‘Em Alive review,” White Throne 4 (1988): 19.