|Musical Style: Melodic Metal||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 1990||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 8||Rating: 75%|
|Running Time: 38:09|
The annals of Christian metal history are littered with the remains of talented bands that, for reasons unknown, never signed a deal with a label. Bay Area based Soldier was perhaps the most well known, a melodic metal outfit that in 1988 released an eleven song demo, Babylon, with a professional sound rivaling many label backed releases of the era. My favorite, however, had to be Apostle. A power trio hailing from Florida, Apostle delivered a classical influenced brand of power metal which it best put on display on its quality demo tapes Chariots Of Iron and Hymns. Paradox, a talented four piece unit from San Antonio, showcased its high energy brand of metal on the two demo tapes it put out in the late eighties, Ruler and Power And Glory. Other unsigned Christian metal acts of note include Taker, Paragon, Armada, Revelation, Chariot, Chosen Stranger, Full Armor, Divine Right and last, but certainly not least, Holy Saint.
Holy Saint may not have been as well known as many of its contemporaries but its members were certainly not lacking in musical ability. Getting started in 1987 with a four song demo entitled Sound The Alarm, the band followed up three years later with its self-titled second demo, an eight song cassette only release that in 2005 was re-issue don CD by Retrospect Records. Holy Saint gives prominence to a melodic heavy metal sound bringing to mind Dokken, Stryper, Motley Crue, Holy Soldier, Eternal Ryte, Rage Of Angels and a host of others from the same era. The album moves mostly in mid-tempo territory - “Come Unto Me”, “Give Your Life Away”, “Call On Your Name” are all quality tracks of note – but includes a couple of up-tempo numbers in “Love Never Fails” and “Christ Is The Answer”. A bit of diversity, on the other hand, can be found in the ballad “Call On Your Name”, the bluesy “Walking The Fine Line” and a fusion based instrumental entitled “777”.
Chris Brooks proves quite the talented front man with his clean and high end vocal style. Yes, he does display an occasional shaky moment, nevertheless, his performance can be characterized as commendable throughout. Give the band more experience and time in the studio and this guy would rank with the likes of Mike Lee (Barren Cross), Les Carlson (Bloodgood) and Stephen Patrick (Holy Soldier). Guitarist Radical Rad makes his presence felt with his energetic and crunchy riffs while contributing lead guitar work of a fiery and at times bluesy variety. On drums we get Bruce Atomic. Another guy who is obviously not using his real name, Atomic is actually a terrific timekeeper who brings a tight sounding and slightly technical style reminiscent to that of John Fowler (Rage Of Angels) or Robert Sweet (Stryper). Pat Tharp rounds out the rhythm section on bass.
Production values, of course, are of the demo variety. But we are going to cut these guys some slack in that it is obvious they did not have much in the way of a budget to record the project. The only complaint worth mentioning, nonetheless, is that the backing vocals on several tracks – most notably “Crying Out”, “Love Never Fails” and “Christ Is The Answer” – are a bit overdone. Again, this is something that would be rectified with a capable producer and more time in the studio.
The packaging of the CD re-issue is on the bare bones side of things. No lyrics. No liner notes. Just a simple CD insert with the artwork on the front and band photos on the back. Finally, those of you who own the original cassette version will notice that the bands message at the end of the tape was not included.
“Crying Out” opens to offbeat sound effects and narration that gives way to a few brief seconds of open air rhythm guitar. The song proceeds to chop its way forward in edge-laden fashion, not culminating until reaching a resolute chorus backed by an overriding mix of backing vocals. Radical Rad adds to the scene with a stretch of gritty lead guitar work.
The energy level increases with the up-tempo sounds of “Love Never Fails”. The song jumps out of the gate in high gear, an abundance of spirited momentum taking over as the way is paved for a high-octane chorus in which a clamorous environment is put into place. Another run of fiery lead work helps put the song over the top. The lyrics here come across evangelical in nature:
The name above all every name
Jesus Christ the Lord of Lords
Set my eyes upon the cross
See the price our freedom paid
Then I heard the almighty say
I gave my all so all could be saved
Introduced to several seconds of grit-laden rhythm guitar, the bluesy “Walking The Fine Line” crawls ahead in a near laid back manner, not picking up in pace until reaching an emotionally charged chorus with a hook of the refuse to go away variety. Terrific song I rate with the albums best.
“777” is a very well done fusion-based instrumental in which Holy Saint showcases the full strength of its musicianship. The song begins to a drum solo followed by a flavorful guitar riff, the robust setting building until a passage is obtained in which a plethora of tight sounding double bass plays a leading role. I enjoy how at its midway point “777” is overtaken by a hard hitting rhythm guitar as Bruce Atomic continues to batter away in the background on drums.
“Christ Is The Answer” gets underway in quickly moving fashion, an abundance of guitar driven initiative pushing it ahead until a non-stop and hook filled chorus with a simple but straightforward message is acquired:
Christ is the Answer
To what you’re looking for
King of Kings, the Lord He reigns forever
Christ is the Answer
To what you really need
Open up you’re heart and let Him in
One of the albums finest moments takes place as the song tapers off for several seconds of bluesy lead work. This one really grooves from front to back. “Christ Is The Answer” talks about the need for salvation:
So many people
Searching for the truth
Someone to trust in
Someone just to turn to
We want to show the world
What God has done for you
This song we sing
Is to bring you to
Christ is the Answer…
The drum solo at the start of “Come Unto Me” transitions to a biting guitar riff, a mid-tempo environment upheld as the song gradually treads its way to a striking chorus in which the bands precipitous backing vocals make their presence felt. Radical Rad cuts loose with some of the albums showiest work on lead guitar.
The semi ballad “Call On Your Name”, the longest track here at over six minutes, navigates its first verse acoustically before the rhythm guitar steps forward and solidifies a driving chorus giving rise to a subdued but downtrodden feel. The blues is the first thought that comes to mind here, reflected in the manner in which the song creates a low key and melancholic environment. The following best sums up the songs message:
Call on Your name
My life is never the same
You’re the light that’s shining on
You’re the One who brings me home
And I call on Your name
My life is never the same
You’re the love that’s always true
So I know to look to You
“Give Your Life Away” commences to the sound of marching boots before a heavy duty riff takes over. Slowly trudging ahead to a prevailing mix of rhythm guitar, the song powers its way ahead only to break out with a plethora of vitality for a chorus highlighted by the smooth sounding feel to Brooks' vocal delivery. This one is a real cruncher and by far the albums heaviest track. “Give Your Life Away” talks about doing exactly that:
All things of old have passed away
Now all things become new
You want to bring it all together
We want to do it all for you
Give your life away
To the King of Kings
Give your life away
To Jesus Christ
My overall feeling is that Holy Saint did a laudable job capturing the spirit of the white metal movement that got its start in the mid-eighties. Keeping that in mind, if the band had gotten the label support it deserved – and was subsequently able to enter the studio with any type of budget – they would be mentioned with the likes of Rage Of Angels, Barren Cross, Saint, Holy Soldier and Bloodgood. Which is too bad. Because I cannot help but think any project recorded in follow up had the potential to be killer.
For further reading please visit the bands page at NoLifeTilMetal: www.nolifetilmetal.com/holysaint.htm.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Crying Out” (4:17), “Love Never Fails” (4:55), “Walking A Fine Line” (4:20), “777” (3:58), “Christ Is The Answer” (4:07), “Come Unto Me” (5:19), “Call On Your Name” (6:29), “Give Your Life Away” (4:46)
Chris Brooks – Lead Vocals
Radical Rad – Guitars
Pat Tharp – Bass
Bruce Atomic - Drums