|Musical Style: Heavy Metal||Produced By:|
|Record Label: StormSpell||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2014||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 13||Rating: No Quote|
|Running Time: 64:24|
I like to think of Ordained Fate as a ‘crossover metal band’, which translates as a cross between straightforward heavy metal, classic US power metal and the thrash side of things. Initially known as Cryptic Axe and founded in the early eighties by high school friends Pam Scott (lead vocals & rhythm guitar), Annette Cvengros (lead guitar) and Marge Curtner (bass), the group came together with the goal of “(being) the first female rock band that was actually ‘good’, and not just for women but ‘good’ period!” By 1986, Cryptic Axe had rounded out its roster with drummer Terry Cvengros and entered the studio to start work on its debut 4-song demo.
During the groups formative Cryptic Axe years, none of its members were believers, but after changing its name to Ordained Fate, first Marge and then Pam followed by Annette and Terry came to the faith. In a sense, Ordained Fate walked a similar path as Sacred Warrior and Scarlet Red in starting as a mainstream act only to later have each band member become a Christian. Ordained Fate proceeded to record a pair of demos, the first six songs from 1989 and second featuring five and released in 1990, before its Cornerstone 1991 performance, which led to it signing with Wonderland Records. The groups self-titled Wonderland debut came out in 1992 and independent sophomore effort Glimmer Of Hope three years later.
Even though the band chose the Ordained Fate moniker prior to it becoming a Christian band, the name stuck due to the fact (as taken from the groups press material) “our fate was predestined to be with the Lord and to be with each other at that time. Now we see that the Lord had kept us together to minister to each other, especially since each one of us had become a Christian at a different time”.
The three Cryptic Axe/Ordained Fate demos, as one might imagine, have long gone out of print and are hard to find collectors items. The good news, however, is that in the summer of 2014 StormSpell Records re-mastered and re-issued the three under the title Demo Anthology. Included are 13 of the 15 demo songs, with two of the four from the Cryptic Axe demo missing due to the original master tapes being lost.
Repeat listen reveals a group that (again) specializes in ‘crossing over’ several different branches of metal. What I hear is a foundation of straightforward metal akin to the heavier material of Barren Cross but fused with the darker and more portentous metal to thrash leanings of early Bride releases Live To Die (1988) and Silence Is Madness (1989) . Strong Deliverance influences are found as well, including technical metal elements similar to Stay Of Execution (1992) in addition to equal doses of old school thrash from the self-titled debut (1989) and Weapons Of Our Warfare (1990). Rounding things out are periodic hints of majestic power metal not unlike Sacred Warrior.
What cannot be denied (in my opinion) is how the demos come across more powerful than the polished album tracks, which should not surprise when factoring how the three were recorded live in the studio. When placed alongside one another, the albums almost sound sedate in light of the passion, energy and intensity pouring forth from the demo material. Hence, I agree with those who suggest the demo do the better job representing the true soul and character of Ordained Fate.
Also standing out further is vocalist Pam Scott. I always felt the two albums placed her vocals a bit low in the mix, with the upshot the listener not ended up exposed to the full nuances of her vocal abilities. However, such is not the case with the demos in that her delivery reflects that much more guts, heart and emotion. Yes, she makes priority to exhibit some serious muscle and projection filled backbone (with the falsettos to match), but when need calls she can also reach down for some courser, lower register angst. It adds up to a performance I see appealing to those into fiery vocalists such as Nancy Jo Mann (Barnabas) and Christine Steel (Arsenal) in addition to the grittier flavorings of Lisa Faxon (Ransom) and Anji Cornette (HarvestBloom).
Cryptic Axe Demo
The Cryptic Axe demo tracks come across in the form of technical metal heaven. “Minions Of The Adversary” storms out of the gate, a snarling, up-tempo mauler with a powerhouse drum sound and impudent guitar riffs to match. A tasteful instrumental stretch rounds out a song that would do Barren Cross proud. “The Pit” is every bit no-nonsense, six minutes of slogging to brazen metal that at times approaches the doom-like. Consider how the song can slow to moments in which Scott’s voice approach a near whisper but can also pick up pace at once to a storm of double bass. Lead guitar takes a fitting bluesy tone.
Ordained Fate Demo I
The debut Ordained Fate demo opens to my two favorite tracks from the group. “Midnight Exodus” draws upon the best elements of power metal and thrash, regal and epic with an august touch in terms of the former but delivering the trenchant riffs and freight train momentum inherit of the latter. Guitar harmonies are mesmerizing while Annette Cvengros soars with her blazing lead guitar. Lyrics find the group expressing its newfound faith:
But I believe in the prophecies
I believe He lives
I’m washed in the blood that He shed for me
I take the love that He gives
“The Light Bearer” starts to a haunting bass solo prior to taking off with a creepy rush of distortion, giving rise to full on bombast its remaining distance in exuding an apocalyptic epic metal feel that hearkens back to classic Warlord. One cannot deny the intensity to Scott’s voice. Again, the groups faith makes its presence felt:
With unholy lies
How you have fallen from the heavens
Oh, Lucifer, son of morning
How you are cut down to the ground
“Sweet Dreams” gives rise to a more melodic direction akin to mid period Sacred Warrior. This reveals itself in the emphasis on the profound chorus reinforced by heavyset male backing vocals in addition to the texturing from the tight as nails guitar harmonies. Likewise, the awesome “Mystic Wind” takes a melodic heading, flowing with its heartfelt emotion in which punchy bass and light vocal melodies prevail but also staunch with its sinister guitar flavorings. A catchy refrain tops off another choice example of the Ordained Fate songwriting abilities.
“Trick Of The Night” manifests a heavier direction, opening slow and haunting to underlining bluesy lead guitar prior to taking off at once with a storm of rash impetus. Unremitting aggression holds sway moving ahead as the groups rhythm section makes a bludgeoning statement and instrumental portions reflect the jaw dropping. Political metal piece “The Election” ups the angst even further, caustic with its joining of the near punk-like and intense thrash based but not to the point of overbearing either way. Scott takes her vocals in a fitting gravely, lower register direction.
Ordained Fate Demo II
Second Ordained Fate demo starts to groups signature track “Let’s Make A Deal”, which also opened the self-titled debut. With its lyrics taking on the prosperity teaching attributed to certain television preachers, the song hybrids metal and thrash as acerbic riffs and incisive bass set the discordant tone. “No Death” represents every bit the mauler. The song starts to narration from John 3:16 only to roar its remaining distance at a near speed metal clip but also proves accessible in the form of the brilliant ‘no death in the bloodshed of Jesus Christ’ catchy chorus. Old school Deliverance could not do it better!
“The Hunted”, groups longest at six and a half minutes, comes across in the form of a thrash metal semi-ballad. The song maneuvers between ethereal verses drifting to dreamlike wavy guitars and a heightened refrain in which robust rhythm guitar provide the acute acumen. “Wonderful Love” also mirrors a tempered feel (if just slightly) with its straight on melodic metal aspect, not technical as some but riveting all the same with its hardly bass ambience and instigative disposition throughout.
Ordained Fate highlights its musicianship on instrumental “Temptation II”, an aggressive heavy hitter aiming for a browbeating effect in alternating between plundering rhythm guitars and moments that suggest of the fusion based. The assertive drumming of Terry Cvengros particularly stands out.
When listened to concurrently, the Ordained Fate albums are good but also feel a bit flat and homogenized in comparison to the high levels of exuberance achieved on the demos. Impression left is that one is hearing two completely different bands. The key revolves around how the group recorded its material live in the studio and emulated its true raw and passionate sound in the process. It does not hurt that Ordained Fate penned some high quality material as well; it cannot help but leave you scratching your head why the group failed to re-record “Midnight Exodus”, “The Light Bearer” and “Mystic Wind” on either of its albums. Not to downplay said albums either, but if already a fan of Ordained Fate (or any form of classic metal to thrash) then make Demo Anthology a necessary purchase.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing (Cryptic Axe demo): “Minions Of The Adversary” (4:38), “The Pit” (6:04)
Track Listing (Ordained Fate demo I): “Midnight Exodus” (4:45), “The Light Bearer” (3:59), “Sweet Dreams” (4:54), “Trick Of The Night” (5:14), “The Election” (4:10), “Mystic Wind” (5:17)
Track Listing (Ordained Fate demo II): “Let’s Make A Deal” (4:58), “No Death” (4:32), “The Hunted” (6:24), “Temptation II” (5:03), “Wonderful Love” (4:29)
Pam Scott - Lead Vocals & Rhythm Guitars
Annette Cvengros - Lead Guitar
Marge Curtner - Bass
Terry Cvengros - Drums