Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Pastor Brad - Storm The Gates
   
Musical Style: Heavy Metal Produced By: Pastor Brad
Record Label: Independent Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 2016 Artist Website: Pastor Brad
Tracks: 9 Rating: No Quote
Running Time:

Pastor Brad - Storm The Gates

Billed as a parody covers album in which guitarist Pastor Brad pays tribute to the bands that inspired him to become a musician, Storm The Gates compiles nine mainstream hard rock and hair metal songs from the seventies and eighties and re-imagines them with ‘lyrics that honor Jesus Christ and proclaim the Good News of the Gospel loud and proud!’ Further detail from the artist in his press material, ‘My desire is to redeem these classic songs and breath into them new purpose via a Christ-honoring message’.  The Storm The Gates title proportionately captures the spirit that inspired the project in drawing upon the words of Christ from Matthew 16: ‘I will build my Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it’.  Again, the artist sums things up best, ‘As God's people, we are called to crash through the gates - into dark places - with the power, love and grace of God.’

Pastor Brad, obviously, needs little introduction as one of the more prolific guitarists within Christian hard music circles.  Many identify with him for his five instrumental guitar ‘shred’ albums, starting with Shred (2004) and Reshredded (2006) but also encompassing Shredded Sweet (2007), Heavenly Shred 2008) and Back To The Shredder (2011).  He proves every bit adept from a vocal standpoint, having debuted with a pair of demos in 2003 followed by three full-length albums in Out Of The Hellhole (2004), Telecaster (2005) and The King Has Come (2005).  ‘All star’ project Break Out (2010) featured guest vocal appearances from Ken Tamplin (Shout), Les Carlsen (Bloodgood), Norman ‘Ski’ Kiersznowski (Faith Factor) and others, while Lemonade (2015) represented a best of both worlds scenario in comprising vocal and instrumental cuts.

Storm The Gates delivers as advertised in rewriting lyrics to mainstream songs to create parodies with a Christian message.  Yes, other Christian artists have recorded covers albums, with Stryper’s The Covering (2011) coming to mind, but with the exception of ApologetiX, whom has over 25 albums to its credit, Pastor Brad is the only to go the parody route, although I could stand corrected on the matter.  Musically, Pastor Brad made the wise decision to stay true to the spirit of the original version to each song being covered, noting how Storm The Gates ranges from traditional metal to doom metal to hard rock to hair metal to classic rock and to all things in between.  Credit the artist for not watering things down as a result in that the nine Storm The Gates cuts are every bit bold musically as they are lyrically.  

It starts with opener “Jesus Rock Solid”, a re-imaging of the Kiss classic “Detroit Rock City”.  The song maintains its anthem like riff driven mentality, with the plundering bass lines and thunderous drums rolls to spare.  The signature car crash at the end pays further homage to the original.  Of course, things take a different direction lyrically:

Persecution, the Devil’s got me in his sites
But you know I hear His voice and it pulls me through
He’s coming soon and He’s told me what I got to do

Look up- everybody’s gonna see His face 
Look down- everybody needs Amazing Grace
Gotta put your trust in Jesus Rock Solid

Doom metal aficionados will take great pleasure in the reworked version to Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” under the new title “Son Of Man”.  The Pastor Brad rendering proves every bit down tuned and bass heavy in also upholding the same powerful but memorable front to back guitar riff.  Instrumentally, he shines with several stretches of dazzling lead guitar that descends into jazz-fusion territory.  “Son Of Man” proves aptly entitled:

He will soon be dead
Crown of thorns upon His head
Set Barabbas free
Crucify the Nazarene

All who are thirsty
Come and drink your fill
All who are weary
Prophecy be fulfilled

Covering a track originally fronted by Ronnie James Dio proves problematic, and Rainbow’s “Man On The Silver Mountain”, now known as “Living Fountain”, is no exception.  Let’s face facts: any vocalist approaching such a task is going to have some very big shoes to fill (not to mention lofty expectations), but Pastor Brad fills them with class, albeit with a gritty and lower register style that I find lends a different dimension to the song. 

It bears repeating what I wrote in my review of Stryper’s The Covering and its take of Black Sabbath’s “Heaven And Hell”:

“It reminds me of the first time Michael Jordan retired (in 1994) and the Chicago Bulls brought in someone named Pete Myers as his “replacement”.  But when pressed about the matter, Myers - based upon my recollection from an ESPN interview back in the day - stated to the effect it was not his intention to “replace” Michael Jordan but rather he was the guy who happed to be now playing shooting guard for the Chicago Bulls.  The same analogy applies here in that Michael (Sweet and not Jordan!) does not seem intent on “replacing” Dio but rather add his own unique persona to the song- and he does it quite well.”  I cannot help but feel the same applies here with the Pastor Brad rendering.

No classic rock covers album would be complete without at least one song from AC/DC, with “Touch Too Much” (re-titled “Touch Of Love”) fulfilling such a role. Pastor Brad takes one of the more melodic pieces from the bluesy hard rocking Aussie quartet and turns it into a treatise on God’s love:

It was one of those nights
When you turned on the lights
And everything becomes so clear
The Spirit was there in my heart to declare
That God’s love is beyond all compare

I felt His touch
His touch of love
He reached out and touched
From up above

Judas Priest classic “Living After Midnight” is now “Rockin’ For The Good News”.  And it does exactly that, as the artist maintains the songs up-tempo, traditional metal leanings - including the catchy hook driven disposition - while strategically altering his vocal register to align with that of Rob Halford.  Lyrically, he changes it into a Christian metal anthem in the process:   

Rockin’ for the good news
Rollin’ for the Son
Prayin’ every morning
Your Kingdom Come
Your will be done

Built up with grace
To do God’s will
My mind is set on Heaven above
I am motivated by the awesome Saviors love

One of my favorites is Saxon cover “Dallas 1 PM”, which has been reworked as “Jerusalem 3 PM”.  The Pastor Brad version maintains the propulsive bass line and high-energy riff driven basis but breaks from the original with narration from John 19 at the halfway point.  With artists best gravelly vocal performance leading the way, “Jerusalem 3PM” touches upon a dramatic reenactment flair not unlike Bloodgood’s “Crucify” and Neon Cross’ “Son Of God”:

The world was rocked that holy day
As Jesus gave His life away
Jerusalem 3 PM

Drive nails through His hands
Father forgive them
That’s what He said

And then He laid down His life for you and me
As He bowed His head

Another choice cut is the rendering of Ozzy’s “Crazy Train” under the new title “the Dragon’s Slain”.  Artist leaves little doubt as to how he had a great deal of fun putting this one direction, reflected in how he stretches from a guitar standpoint with some brazen riffs and flashy soloing that would do Randy Rhoads proud.  Guest vocalist Luke Weber (Razorigami) does a good job paying tribute to Ozzy with his expansive vocal style.  Victorious refrain makes a decisive statement:

Shout it from the rooftops
Messiah’s come to reign
The serpents head is crushed
The dragon’s slain

Albums most ambitious piece might be Quiet cover “Metal Health” (now known as “Jesus Said”).  Yes, the all time great metal anthem mentality to the song continues to prevail, but where it diverges from the original is from a lyrical standpoint:

I was an evil chooser
Selfish boozer
Thought I was cool
But I was just a big loser

Now I’m a revelator
Peace maker
I’m rockin’ hard
For the universe Creator

Jesus said
I can make your life brand new
Jesus said
Abundant life I give to you

Fastway’s “Say What You Will” closes things but re-titled as “Freewill”.  Up-tempo, rollicking and with plenty of technical guitar work, the song remains a fun listen while expounding upon the lyrical theme:

He’s rich in mercy
For every need
He’s not here to monkey around
He’s here to set you free

Yeah, He can do it
You know He’s the way
You know what you gotta do
You gotta pick the way

Use your free will
Your free will

The crisp and clean Storm The Gates production is the best on a Pastor Brad release.  Rhythm guitar, in particular, stands out with plenty of fixed muscle, while leads receive every bit the even mix.

Lone complaint is that Storm The Gates is a bit short in featuring just nine songs.  Yes, each is good and you get your moneys worth in that capacity, but I cannot help but think of a few others that would work well re-done parody style:

“Lord Of All” - “Looks That Kill” (Motley Crue)
“Lift Him Up” - “Lick It Up” (Kiss)
"Thief In The Night” - “Wheel In The Sky” (Journey)

Storm The Gates represents an enticing project in that it does not encompass cumbersome or watered down covers but rather those that retain the energy and spirit inherit to the originals.  Lyrics, of course, allow the project to fall under the parody category, but credit the artist for the tasteful and thoughtful manner in which he has made any change to the prose.  Ultimately, Storm The Gates sets itself apart in a Christian hard music scene that does not have a great deal to offer in terms of parody metal/hard rock releases.  I hope the album is the shape of things to come in terms of future parody albums from Pastor Brad and other artists as well.

Review by Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “Jesus Rock Solid” (3:49), “Son Of Man” (4:31), “Living Fountain” (4:15), “Touch Of Love” (4:18), “Rockin’ For The Good News” (3:32), “Jerusalem 3 PM” (6:36), “The Dragon’s Slain” (4:36), “Jesus Said” (5:01), “Freewill” (3:30)

Musicians
Pastor Brad - Lead Vocals, Guitars & Bass

Additional Musicians
Luke Weber - Lead Vocals
Art Kalenda - Lead Guitar

 

Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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