|Musical Style: Melodic Metal/Hard Rock||Produced By: Frank Mono|
|Record Label: RCA Europe||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 1988||Artist Website: Joshua Perahia|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 90%|
|Running Time: 43:40|
Guitarist Joshua Perahia quit his studies in pre-med at UCLA in the late seventies in order to pursue a full time career in music. Joining forces with his brother Leon, he formed the first incarnation of Joshua and in 1982 released the bands full length debut The Hand is Quick Than The Eye on Enigma Records. As Joshua was about to get a deal on Gold Mountain/A&M Records in 1983, Perahia became a Christian, and upon advising the band about his new faith, all its members either quit or were let go. Perahia subsequently created a new version of Joshua that included future Shout members Ken Tamplin, Loren Robinson and Jo Galletta. With vocalist Jeff Fenholt rounding out its line up, the band recorded its 1986 release Surrender on Polydor Records. Joshua got its break during the Surrender tour of Europe when Perahia set up a meeting with hit producer Dieter Dierks. Dierks arranged for Joshua to spend time in his own studio, and after recording nine songs in only one week, he put together a contract which led to the band signing to RCA six months later. Before Joshua could begin recording, however, the band had to wait two years for the Scorpions to get out of the studio. During this period all the members from the Surrender era left which forced Perahia to form the line up that went on to record its 1988 RCA debut Intense Defense.
Joshua plays eighties influenced commercial metal characterized by melodic based songwriting backed by the bands polished vocal harmonies and first-rate musicianship. Perahia is a wonderful talent, combining elements of speed and melody with his neo-classical influenced style of playing. After the band returned from Europe following the Surrender tour, Rob Rock (Project Driver) was hired to fill the lead vocalist position. The renowned Rock, who has also worked with the likes of Impellitteri and Warrior in addition to recording three solo albums, brings out the best in the bands sound with his powerful and smooth sounding vocal delivery. The tight drumming of Tim Gehrt joins with Emil Lech's steady bass lines to comprise a rock solid rhythm section. Keyboardist Greg Schultz accents the bands sound without overriding the instrumentation.
The band spent an entire year in Germany recording Intense Defense with a budget eventually reaching one million marks (roughly $700,000). Nevertheless, the album was well worth the time and expense in that it showcases a refined and crystal clear sounding production job. A more than adequate amount of rhythm guitar is placed upfront in a clean mix of lead guitar and keyboards. While the drum sound is tight and solid, the bass could have been mixed a bit more prominently.
The keyboards opening "Reach Up" give way to pounding drums and a crisp rhythm guitar blended with a bit of lead guitar. After the rhythm guitar takes a backseat in the mix as the song reaches its first verse, it returns to a place of prominence to drive a catchy chorus backed by vocal harmonies. Perahia adds to the energetic atmosphere with a blistering guitar solo.
"I've Been Waiting" moves Intense Defense in a commercial flavored melodic hard rock direction. An edgy rhythm guitar evenly propels the song at a laid back mid-tempo pace until it segues to a strong background vocal driven chorus. As "I've Been Waiting" peaks, it stops dead in its tracks for thirty seconds of the albums best neo-classical influenced lead guitar work.
"Only Yesterday" begins to an exquisite blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards that transitions to several seconds of lead guitar. Proceeding through its first verse in a steady guitar driven fashion, the song culminates for a chorus highlighted by Rock's pristine vocal delivery. A guitar solo with a symphonic feel opens an instrumental section ending to a heavy duty guitar riff.
The melodic rock of "Crying Out For Love" does not stand out in the same noteworthy manner as the albums better material. A restrained mix of rhythm guitar slowly carries the song forward until it moves on to a good commercial flavored chorus. I wish the band had expanded upon an instrumental passage limited to several brief seconds of lead guitar.
The hard rocking "Living On The Edge" is by far the albums heaviest track. Carried through its first verse by an upfront mix of crunchy rhythm guitar, "Living On The Edge" immaculately flows to a smooth sounding chorus delivered at an upbeat tempo. Perahia's lead guitar work starts in an aggressive and fast paced manner before transitioning to a more melodic style of playing.
The keyboards introducing "Tearing At My Heart" give way to a combination of rhythm guitar and narration:
When all the dreams pass away, and fall in despair
When all the hope seems to fade, you'll still be there
As the song gains momentum, an edgy rhythm guitar moves to the front of the mix and quickly takes it to an anthem-like chorus with an ethereal feel. Perahia tops "Tearing At My Heart" off with a guitar solo that, while very well done, is a bit on the short side.
After keyboards convey the semi-ballad "Remembering You" through its first verse, a near perfect amalgamation of rhythm guitar and keyboards slowly drives it to a strong emotionally charged chorus. Perahia takes center stage with his melodic flavored lead guitar work.
Commencing to several seconds of tight sounding guitar harmony, "Look To The Sky" tapers off to an upfront mix of crisp rhythm guitar that impels it to a chorus backed by operatic vocal harmonies. Thirty seconds of pull-out-all-of-the-stops lead guitar work helps put the song over the top.
The vocal harmonies at the start of "Don't You Know" transition to several seconds of tight rhythm guitar harmony, the song maintaining an upbeat tempo as it advances on a chorus driven in a hard hitting manner by pounding drums. Subsequent to Perahia's fiery guitar solo, "Don't You Know" slows to a piano until it picks up in pace and closes by continually repeating its chorus.
Slowing fading in to a keyboard solo, "Stand Alone" gradually picks up pace during its first verse until the rhythm guitar kicks in and smoothly pushes it to a superlative vocal harmony driven chorus. Perahia's neo-classical influenced guitar solo helps place the song among the albums stronger tracks. "Stand Alone" deals with persevering in the face of aloneness:
Feeling the pressure that surrounds you
Good friends are seldom, often few
And now, taking on a higher change
Reaching for the final stage
I've got you on my side
And now You're telling me
Hearing Your voice as You open the door
Sparing my life as I run through the rage of the storm
RCA USA ended up dropping Joshua as a result of the band putting the statement "This album is dedicated to the Glory of God" in the albums liner notes. Excuse me? But by the time Intense Defense was released in the late eighties Stryper had already sold millions of records; as a result, one would think the suits as RCA USA would understand that if the music is of high quality people are going to by an album with a Christian message. And following an investment of $700,000, it seems a petty waste for the label to not support such an excellent work of art due to the bands declaration of faith. Talk about missing the forest for all of the trees!
Following the release of Intense Defense, the band did not see eye-to-eye and its members went their separate ways. Rob Rock, Greg Shultz and Emil Lech went on to form the melodic metal band Driver with guitarist Roy Z.; while Driver never signed a deal, it recorded a professional sounding five song demo. Perahia changed the name of the band to Jaguar and joined forces with vocalist extraordinaire Robin Kyle, the two recording a demo and placing the track "Show Me The Way" on the 1992 re-issue of Surrender on Ocean Records.
While the original RCA Europe release of Intense Defense remains a hard to find and highly prized collectors items, it was not re-issued on CD until 2003.
Track Listing: "Reach Up" (4:43), "I’ve Been Waiting" (4:23), "Only Yesterday" (3:41), "Crying Out For Love" (4:20), "Living On The Edge" (4:08), "Tearing At My Heart" (3:49), "Remembering You" (5:06), "Look To The Sky" (4:14), "Don’t You Know" (4:08), "Stand Alone" (5:02)
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Rob Rock – Lead Vocals
Joshua Perahia – Guitars
Greg Shultz – Keyboards
Emil Lech – Bass
Tim Gehrt - Drums
Also Reviewed: Joshua Perahia - Surrender, Joshua Perahia - Chapter One, Joshua Perahia – Something To Say, Angelica - Angelica, Impellitteri - Crunch, Fires Of Babylon - Fires Of Babylon, Rob Rock – Holy Hell, Rob Rock - Garden Of Chaos, Warrior - The Code Of Life
"Joshua - Why Surrender Now?" Heaven's Metal 37 (1992): 21-22.
"The Struggles Of Joshua." Heaven's Metal 19 (1989): 27-31.