|Musical Style: Heavy Metal||Produced By: Unknown|
|Record Label: Metal Gem||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 1987||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 6||Rating: 75%|
|Running Time: 32:15|
Guitarist Dave Enos and vocalist Larry Phillips initially put Emerald together in Southern California during 1978. After going through a revolving door of bass guitarists and drummers, the two in time finalized the line up that recorded Emerald’s very fine 1987 six song debut EP Armed For Battle. Playing a heavy but melodic eighties influenced brand of metal not unlike Barren Cross, Saint, Soldier and early Stryper, Emerald was one of the first acts to consider itself a "band of Christians" as opposed to a Christian band. As a matter of fact, Emerald was chosen for the bands name due to its versatility- not only does it represent a stone in the throne of God, but it does not force you to place a label on the band in terms of the style of music it plays.
With solid range to his voice, Larry Phillips reminds me a bit of Ty Cook (Antithesis) due to his ability to hit a high note with ease or, if needed, add a measure of grit and gravel to his delivery. Guitarist Dave Enos is a terrific talent who contributes an abundance of fast paced and aggressively delivered lead guitar work. Roger Martin (Vengeance Rising) laid down all the albums bass tracks except for "Look To The Stars" and "We Attack" which were performed by Joe Palma. Kyle Morrett rounds out the rhythm section on drums.
It took an entire year to record Armed For Battle on a budget of only $13,000, and, as a result, an overall element of muddiness permeates its sonics. For example, the rhythm guitar and drums can sound thin and muffled. The lead guitar and bass, on the other hand, both evenly rise above the instrumentation.
The albums title track gets underway to a heavy duty bass line and a scream from Phillips who immediately cuts to the point and delivers the songs message based around spiritual warfare:
We're armed for battle
As we hit the stage
Like a divine warrior
From another age
We fight the good fight
Take the Sword of the scripture
For number One
Proceeding through its first verse with a ton of up-tempo energy, "Armed For Battle" culminates as it slows for a strong melodic flavored chorus. Enos tops things off with his flashy lead guitar work.
The quietly played guitar line at the start of the seven minute anthem "Teenage Suicide" transitions to the catchy blues flavored riff that carries its first and second verse in an energetic manner. Following a fiery guitar solo, the catchy riff returns to take the song through its fifth verse before it slows again to a quietly played guitar line as Phillips delivers a powerful anti-suicide message:
Losing the will to live is blind
The devil's saying your soul is mine
You lost yourself, you fell off track
It's the end of the line, there's no turning back
Enos follows with a minute of the albums best fast fingered lead guitar work.
A gritty rhythm guitar underscored by a punchy bass line conveys “We Attack” forward from the start, the two leading the way to a catchy chorus shored up by background vocals that are laid on a bit too thick. I wish the band had expanded upon an instrumental passage carried by several second of restrained lead guitar work.
"Look To The Stars", a superlative Scorpions influenced power ballad, is carried through its verse at a slower more mid-tempo pace by a quietly played guitar line. Once the rhythm guitar kicks in, the song breaks out in an emotionally charged manner for a chorus with a huge infectious hook. Several seconds of bluesy lead guitar work perfectly complements the songs pace and feel. The lyrics to "Look To The Stars", however, can come across on the vague and ambiguous side:
But there is hope among the stars
The light is burning bright
When you're down, look to they sky
You will feel alright
The seven minute "Winds Of Doom" is by far the albums strongest track. Beginning to the sound of blowing wind, a slowly moving guitar line takes the song through its first verse before the rhythm guitar enters the mix at the start of the second. The deep sounding but catchy chorus that follows is backed by a touch of vocal harmonies. Enos' fast paced lead guitar work helps carry the ensuing minute and a half long instrumental passage. The lyrics to "Winds Of Doom" are straightforward in their approach:
The prophecy has been foretold
The Book of Life is all but closed
The final conflict has begun
The Son of God at last has won
The keyboard introducing "Judgement Day" give way to a driving riff underscored by a punchy bass line. After an edgy rhythm guitar propels the song at a hard hitting mid-tempo pace, it culminates for a brief but hook-laden chorus that will refuse to leave your head. A combination of rhythm guitar harmony and piercing lead guitar work drives a sweeping instrumental passage. The songs subject matter is self-explanatory:
These words I say to you are true
Judgement day for me and you
Take me home
You can win, can't you see
So base your life eternally
Armed For Battle proves quite strong musically in that all six of its tracks hold up under repeated play. And while the albums production values could have been beefed up with a bit of big budget polish, they in no way proves a major detracting factor. It is disappointing we never heard a follow up release from this talented band because on Armed For Battle Emerald displays an almost Barren Cross or Saint-like potential to make good music.
Following the release of Armed For Battle Emerald placed three additional tracks on two different compilation albums. "Battle Ground" made its way onto White Metal Invasion - a great cassette only release made up mostly of unsigned bands put together as a fund raiser for White Throne magazine. While I am uncertain if "Battle Ground" was recorded during the Armed For Battle sessions or specifically for White Metal Invasion, it is a fast paced and catchy number ranking among the bands very best. "Traitor" and "Born To Die" both appeared on California Metal II and the M8 reissue including both Armed For Battle and Oracle's Selah on the same CD. ("Battle Ground", for reasons unknown, did not make it onto the M8 reissue. It should have been included.)
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "Armed For Battle" (4:13), "Teenage Suicide" (7:50), "We Attack" (3:55), "Look To The Stars" (5:07), "Winds Of Doom" (7:00), "Judgement Day" (4:10)
Larry Phillips – Lead Vocals
Dave Enos – Guitars
Roger Martin – Bass
Joe Palma – Bass
Kyle Morrett - Drums
Arnold, Christy and Tara Jensen. "His II: Two Days Of Heavenly Metal On Earth." Take A Stand (May, 1988): 3.
"Emerald: All That Glitters Is Green." Heaven's Metal 16 (1988): 15.
"Emerald Bio." Emerald: Armed For Battle. Magdalene Records (2001).