|Musical Style: Melodic Metal/Hard Rock||Produced By: Ken Roberts|
|Record Label: Wayde||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 1987||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 8||Rating: 75%|
|Running Time: 30:37|
Covina, California based Malachia initially came together in the mid-eighties, releasing its six song debut EP Under The Blade in 1986 before following up a year later with the full length effort Red Sunrise. A much more polished work when compared to Under The Blade, Red Sunrise finds the band re-recording the six songs off its debut in addition to two new tracks in “Red Sunrise” and “Sightless Eyes”. What we end up with is technical keyboard driven hard rock and metal with a heavy eighties influence. Yes, keyboards play a significant role here but more often than not it is a complementary one that rarely strays into overriding territory. Malachia, otherwise, delivers a sound that can best be described as dark, moody and heavy, all the while reflecting a vibe that almost comes goth-like in its capacity.
Give the band a great deal of credit, at the same time, for the consistency of its songwriting in that the albums compositions, while not remarkable or outstanding, are all well constructed and hold up under repeated play. “In Christ We Rock” and “Let It Go” are two energetic hard rockers, while “Lonely Is The Night” and “Mark Of The Beast” slow things down to a more mid-tempo pace. “Master’s Call” stands out as a very fine emotionally charged ballad.
To say that Malachia is a talented band would be an understatement. Lead vocalist Ken Pike, for example, brings a three and a half octave range voice that kind of reminds me of Geoff Tate (Queensryche). Guitarist Jeffrey James, a graduate of the Guitar Institute of Technology, impresses as well, showcasing his playing best on “Sightless Eyes” and “Heaven Or Hell”. The added touch of Steve “Chima” Ayola on keyboards helps to give the band its “technical keyboard” driven sound. Bassist Wade A. Little and drummer Dave DeVaughn round out the rhythm section.
As expected, there is some muddiness to the production of Red Sunrise, particularly its low end, but the sound here is not bad when considering the project was recorded on a minimal budget using late eighties technology.
The albums packaging? Well, my advice would be to overlook the bands “oh-my-gosh-mid-eighties-hair-metal-time-warp-outfits” and focus on the music. Which is really quite good. It is also worth pointing out that I own both the cassette and vinyl versions of Red Sunrise and neither includes lyrics to the albums tracks.
Things get underway with the anthemic hard rocker “In Christ We Rock”. Kicking in at an upbeat tempo, the song cruises through its verse portions strong and steady before achieving a raucous but hook laden chorus backed by shouted vocal harmonies (IN CHRIST! WE ROCK!!!). James delivers the goods with a very well done fluid guitar solo. Despite its cliché based title, this proves quite the effective album opener.
The pace slows down a bit with the albums laid back title track. The song begins to several seconds of open air rhythm guitar followed by a pounding riff, a more mid-tempo environment put in place as “Red Sunrise” moves ahead to a fleeting chorus giving rise to a good sharp sounding feel. Again, James steps forward with more skillfully done lead guitar work.
The album moves in a more laid back direction with “Lonely Is The Night”, a creative semi-ballad in which the band recorded a video that aired on TBN’s Real Videos. Slowly advancing through its first verse as Pike sings with just the keyboards to stand in support, “Lonely Is The Night” picks up in pace as the rhythm guitar steps forward and shores up a chorus delivered in a perfect grand and stately manner. I really enjoy a lengthy instrumental passage in which the lead guitar and keyboards are allowed to dual.
“Let It Go” returns the album to its up-tempo, hard rocking ways. The crunchy rhythm guitar opening the song soon gives way to a keyboard solo that ends up placed a bit forward in the mix. Tapering off, “Let It Go” achieves a sweeping chorus with a catchy hook you will be challenged to keep out of your head. I find it distracting, however, how another keyboard solo carries the extent of an all too brief instrumental passage. While this is one of the albums better songs musically, the keyboards end up playing too prominent a role for my taste.
Introduced to a slowly moving blend of keyboards and quietly played guitar, “Sightless Eyes” abruptly takes off in hard rocking fashion to some well timed wailing from Pike. Progressing through its first verse at a catchy mid-tempo pace, a touch of vocal harmonies enters the mix just before the song reaches a good emotionally charged chorus. James once again delivers the goods with several seconds of ripping lead guitar work.
A drum solo followed by a few brief seconds of riffing sets “Heaven Or Hell” in motion. The song proceeds to maintain an abundance of upfront guitar driven momentum during its verse portions prior to obtaining a hook filled chorus that will pull you in and refuse to let go. Painting a fiery picture with his ardent work on lead guitar, James helps make this by far and away the albums strongest track.
The album hits its stride as the ending to “Heaven Or Hell” segues in to the beginning of “Mark Of The Beast”. Proceeding in a slowly moving but ominous bass guitar driven fashion, an edgy rhythm guitar steps forward and carries “Mark Of The Beast” to a hard hitting chorus in which Pike displays the abundant range to his voice. A near perfect blend of lead guitar and bass carries a nice lengthy instrumental section.
The album closes to a very well done melodic metal ballad entitled “Master’s Call”. The keyboards at the start of the song soon interweave with a touch of bluesy lead guitar work, an emotional setting established as “Master’s Call” gradually proceeds through its first verse to a memorable chorus underscored by a trace of rhythm guitar.
Following the release of Red Sunrise, Malachia changed its name to Bashan-Tyre before changing it one last time to Vision. In 1990 Vision placed the track “Runaway” (of which it also recorded a video that aired on Real Videos) on the California Metal II compilation before calling it quits for good. Which is too bad, because on Red Sunrise Malachia proves a more than above average talent with the ability to put together an entire album worth of quality material. If given the opportunity to record a follow up release or two I cannot help but think Malachia/Bashan-Tyre/Vision – whatever you want to call them – would be mentioned in the same sentence today with the likes of Guardian, Saint, Whitecross and Barren Cross. If you happen to stumble across a copy of Red Sunrise then by all means pick it up. Please note that you can also see the band performing live versions of “Sightless Eyes” and “In Christ We Rock” on the DVD re-issue of the Sanctuary sponsored Metal Mardis Gras video. In the meantime, we can only hope for a re-issue on CD…
ADDENDUM: November 3, 2006
I have recently been in touch with keyboardist Steve Ayola and vocalist Ken Pike who provided the following details in regards to the current happenings of the former members of Malachia:
Keyboardist Steve “Chima” Ayola is currently the Technical Director of a performing arts theater in Oregon. He still plays in the worship band at a local Vineyard Christian Fellowship in addition to occasionally jamming at Blues Society meetings. Lead vocalist Ken Pike – the guy with the three and a half octave ranged voice! - works as a federal law enforcement officer in Florida and is currently involved in a country rock band (although he remains a metalhead at heart!). Bass guitarist Wade Little took over as CEO of his father’s detective and anti-terrorist consulting firm. Drummer Dave DaVaughn resides in Southern California and owns his own business. He still plays in a local Christian band on the side. Lead guitarist Jeffrey James works in the chiropractic industry.
A special word of thanks goes to Steve and Ken for providing this information!
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “In Christ We Rock” (3:59), “Red Sunrise” (3:51), “Lonely Is The Night” (4:45), “Let It Go” (3:08), “Sightless Eyes” (3:07), “Heaven Or Hell” (3:20), “Mark Of The Beast” (3:37), “Master’s Call” (4:50)
Ken Pike – Lead Vocals & Guitars
Jeffrey James – Lead Guitar
Steve “Chima” Ayola – Keyboards
Wade A. Little – Bass Guitar
Dave DeVaughn - Drums
Mutillo, Dave. "Thunder In The City." White Throne 12 (1992): 10-12, 16.
Van Pelt, Doug. “Malachia – That Popular East Coast Band From California.” Heaven’s Metal 17 (1988): 41-42.