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
Joshua Perahia - Chapter One
   
Musical Style: Melodic Metal Produced By: Joshua Perahia & Denis Degher
Record Label: Ma & Pa Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 2008 Artist Website: Joshua
Tracks: 11 Rating: 80%
Running Time: 55:03
Joshua Perahia - Chapter One

The Christian metal scene has produced its share of guitar heroes over the years.  The first to come to mind is Brian Belew, who contributed his pyrotechnical playing to groundbreaking Barnabas releases Approaching Light Speed (1983), Feel The Fire (1984) and Little Foxes (1986).  Oz Fox (Stryper) , of course, is also very good – as are contemporaries Tony Palacios (Guardian), Bruce Swift (Sacred Warrior) and Dee Harrington (Saint) – but Rex Carroll takes things to the next level.  Mixing a blues rock influence with neo-classical sensibilities, Carroll got his start in Fierce Heart but is best known for his work in Whitecross (performing on the groups first five albums) and King James.  Several noteworthy shredders have hit the scene in recent years as well, including Narnia guitarist Carl Johan Grimmark (who has often been compared to Yngwie Malmsteen) and Yugoslavian born Slav Simanic, a high intensity player with two quality solo releases in Water Of Life (1998) and Let It Go (2002).

One name deserving mention with the very best is Joshua Perahia.  Perahia formed the first incarnation of his full time group Joshua after quitting his studies in pre-med at UCLA in the late seventies.  Joshua's 1983 Enigma debut, The Hand Is Quicker Than The Eye, preceded the Jeff Fenholt fronted Polydor release Surrender from 1986.  After recruiting a new vocalist in Rob Rock (Impellitteri), Perahia returned to the studio and recorded the polished melodic metal of the critically acclaimed Intense Defense (which came out on RCA Europe in 1988).  Seven long years passed – that included a stint in Jaguar with vocalist Robyn Kyle Basauri (Red Sea, Die Happy) – before he put together his new group, M Pire, and its full length debut Chapter 1. Originally released on Long Island Records in 1995 (and soon to go out of print when Long Island went out of business), Chapter 1 was re-issued in 2001 on M&K Sound – under the new heading Joshua Perahia as opposed to M Pire – and for a second time in 2008 (but with the track “Bad Man” omitted).

Chapter 1, traversing melodic metal and hard rock territory, delivers not only some of the heaviest moments of Perahia’s career but some of the most blues based as well.  This is best exhibited on mid-tempo numbers such as the driving “You Want It All”, acoustic laced “Dark Days”, angst-laden “It Must Be Love” and scratchy blues metal of “Devil’s River”.  Catchy melodies abound on “Concrete Jungle” and “Steady Weapon” (two of the albums better tracks) while an up-tempo heading is taken on “Long Way To Heaven”, “Walk Into The Light” and “Right On Target” (notable hooks on these three as well).  “One Night Is Not Enough” represents a customary ballad and “Tears Of Joy” the albums slowest and most laid back piece.

Michael O’Mara might not bring the talent of previous vocalists Perahia was worked with (Fenholt, Rock and Basauri) but performs capably nonetheless.  With a gritty (and at times soulful) mid-ranged vocal style, he kind of reminds of Basauri, but with nowhere near the abundant range.  As a matter of fact, I am tempted to described O’Mara as a “poor man’s Basauri”- in other words very good but not quite great.  At this point it must be mentioned that the bluesy nature of the material on Chapter 1 leads me to believe the album was written with Basauri in mind; hence, it only makes sense to bring in a vocalist who takes a similar or “like” approach.

Joshua Perahia proves in no uncertain terms a blues based environment is his natural element (just check out the spicy lead work he imbues “Steady Weapon”, “It Must Be Love” and “Steady Weapon”).  A more fiery touch is reflected in his playing, on the other hand, on “Long Way To Heaven” and “Right On Target”.  And as previously mentioned, this ranks with the heaviest projects from Perahia to date, which, of course, is testament to his bountiful work on rhythm guitar.

Production values might be a bit “dry” but otherwise serve to bring out the best in the bands melodic based hard rocking sound.

M Pire - Chapter One

The album opens to one of its better tracks in “Concrete Jungle”.  Standing out with its high energy impetus, the song brings the type of guitar driven groove and catchy chorus that will keep you coming back time and again.  Good complementary soulful vocal performance from O’Mara.  “Concrete Jungle” touches upon the impersonal nature of modern society:

Surrounded by the presence
Of fear and everyday
Is like yesterday
Is there no stopping this
Killing disease?

Cause I’m looking for
Heaven in a concrete jungle

Speaking of groove, the mid-tempo “You Want It All” also delivers the goods.  Slow, driving and edgy, the song moves its distance in dogged fashion in amalgamating occasional doses of deep backing vocals with a scratchy run of lead guitar.  “You Want It All” centers around the policies (from the artists perspective) of our top elected official at the time:

Big man
Twisted politician
Don’t laugh
The country’s in your hands
Southern man
Spending all out money
You start a war in a foreign land

You’re a big media sensation
Bring a nation to it’s knees
‘Cause you want it all
And you want our love

“Steady Weapon” is another first class track (ranking with “Concrete Jungle” in terms of pure quality).  The song starts at a near crawl to a quietly played guitar, gradually building force as occasional outbursts of rhythm guitar highlight the backdrop.  Maintaining the settled initiative, “Steady Weapon” culminates for a resounding chorus giving rise to, again, another hook that will draw you in and refuse to let go.  The Lead guitar this time around is more blues based in capacity.  The lyrical direction taken here deals with the struggles an individual faces while growing up:

Was a boy tried to
Understand just what it takes
To be a man in this world,
Where nothing sacred still remains
As a child he took the pain,
‘Til he realized it didn’t have
To be that way
Then it all changed

And growth and maturity gained in the process:

Now the helpless child is
Dead and gone, and in his
Place a man walks tall who’s
Not so afraid
All around him violence thrives
Cities bleed, as man walks on
His soul will survive

“One Night Is Not Enough” can best be described as a customary ballad- and a very good one at that!  Customary in the manner in which it begins slowly to an acoustic guitar before the rhythm guitar cuts in; and equally customary in how it showcases an emotionally charged chorus interlaced with (customary) back vocals.  A customary – and very moving – guitar solo proves the final piece to the puzzle.  Lyrically, “One Night Is Not Enough” is a good old fashioned love song:

I’m holding on
I know its’ wrong
But I can’t pretend
Slow down
Gotta take a little time
For this soul to mend
I’m out of love
I’ve been there before
Swear this heart
Cant’ take anymore

One of the albums faster and more upbeat pieces, “Long Way To Heaven” gets under way to a bass guitar solo and a bit of guitar feedback.  The song rollicks ahead once the rhythm guitar cuts in, sustaining the grit-edged environs on its way to a chorus in which an animated setting is put into place.  Great run of fluid lead guitar from Perahia.

“Dark Days” commences acoustically as a trace of guitar feedback accents the backdrop.  Picking up in pace as a crisp rhythm guitar steps forward, the song soon transitions to a driving chorus in which vocal harmonies play a prominent – but complementary – role.  A tasteful mix of the acoustic and electric is presented here.  “Dark Days” paints a picture of how a new day is dawning:

And I know
Why your rage dies
And when it dies
Why?

Dark days are gone
Yes, they’re gone my friend
Dark days are gone
To the sea, to the sea

“It Must Be Love” is a bluesy (almost caustic) look at lost love.  Quite the poignant piece, this one is spiced up its full length by Perahia’s bristling licks and chops (check out his blazing leads over the songs final minute).  A gruff vocal performance from O’Mara complements the angst laden scene.  Again, “It Must Be Love” comes across in the form of a bitter lament:

I’ve been brokenhearted
I’m breakin’ down with the blues
And I’ve been running on a
Razor’s edge with nothing to lose

And I’ve been mistreated
I’ve been shot down cold
Well it’s like I always told you
You reap what you sow

I’ve been called a beggar
I’ve been called a fool
A rebel in love, breaking all of the rules
I’m down on my luck
And I tell myself
It must be love…

“Tears Of Joy”, in contrast, represents one of the albums more laid back pieces.  The longest track here at just under six minutes, the song proves quite the compelling work with its tasteful exchanges of acoustic and electric guitar.  And despite the acoustic interludes, “Tears Of Joy” establishes quite the weighty feel – it is by no means a “mellow” number – in exuding the same quality as the rest of the material on Chapter 1.  The lyrics to “Tears Of Joy” come across emotional in feel:

Cry those tears of joy
Let ‘em roll on down my face
‘Cause it’s love that’s been
My saving grace
Cry those tears of joy
Sweet surrender, my baby
‘Cause love is gonna find
Your way back home

The punchy melodic metal of “Walk Into The Light” flows ahead in upbeat fashion from the get go, joining a terse rhythm guitar with a chorus perfectly shored up by more of the bands trademark backing vocals (a bit of a Stryper-ish feel is exuded on this one).  Straightforward but hard rocking and catchy, “Walk Into The Light” proves aptly entitled:

As I push towards the sun
I’ll be driving this dream to
The other side of the rainbow
Oh, yeah
You can walk right
Talk right, look right
What’s inside your head
Gonna bring you woe

Walk into the light
Oh, and it’s deep inside of me
Until you walk into the light
You’ll be crawling through
The back door of life

“Devils River” might be the most blues heavy composition here.  Initiated by a drum solo, the song drives ahead to a crunch-laden riff only to settle down to a slower and more laid back direction for its verse portions. Impetus builds as the rhythm guitar regains its edge to drive a chorus on the, surprisingly, smooth sounding side of things.  Perahia’s razor-like leads tops off a piece that warns against giving up the fight:

Yeah the good and the evil
They live inside your head
You used to fight temptation
But you’ve given up instead
Your habit is your prison
That bottle is your friend
You try to reach the shore
But turn around before it ends

The upbeat melodic metal of “Right On Target” kicks up quite the storm during its verdant verse portions, not culminating until gaining a hold of a hook driven chorus in which the all out energetic momentum is sustained.  A revving engine opens an instrumental section shored up by a fast paced guitar solo.

Those of you who own the Long Island version of Chapter 1 know that “Bad Man” is another quality example of up-tempo hard rock (once again, the song was cut from the recent Ma & Pa re-issue).  The song, interestingly, sounds like a reworked version of “Living On The Edge” (off Intense Defense), drawing up the same riff driving its opening while capturing its instrumental section almost verbatim.  As for its exclusion, my first thought is that perhaps the artist did not like the song but, more than likely, it was left out so as not to detract from the collectible value of the Long Island release.

All in all, Chapter 1 proves a very worthwhile effort musically: eleven good songs (not a bad track here) along with solid production values and Joshua Perahia’s top of the line abilities on guitar.  The only potential downgrade is the cutting of the track “Bad Man” (if you own the Long Island version then add another 5 points to the final score).  Otherwise, this is a very solid 80% and comes strongly recommended for those into melodic metal and hard rock (particularly with a bluesy edge).

Track Listing: “Concrete Jungle” (4:33), “You Want It All” (5:13), “Steady Weapon” (5:34), “One Night Is Not Enough” (4:27), “Long Way To Heaven” (5:27), “Dark Days” (4:51), “It Must Be Love” (4:55), “Tears Of Joy” (5:51), “Walk Into The Light” (3:56), “Devil’s River” (5:36), “Right On Target” (4:40)

Musicians
Michael O’Mara – Lead Vocals
Joshua Perahia – Guitars
Joey Rochrich – Bass
Eric Stoskopf – Drums

Additional Musicians
Diane Arens – Keyboards

Also Reviewed: Joshua Perahia – Surrender, Joshua – Intense Defense, Joshua Perahia – Something To Say

 

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