|Musical Style: Heavy Metal||Produced By: James A. Griffin|
|Record Label: Patmos||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 1984||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 7||Rating: 45%|
|Running Time: 34:45|
While Philadelphia has gained reputation as the city of brotherly love, a Christian metal band out of Shreveport, Louisiana of the same name is equally reputed for the constitution it displayed on the full length debut, Tell The Truth, it released in 1984. The previous pun notwithstanding, Philadelphia – the group and not necessarily the town with the unruly sports fans – derives its moniker from the sixth of the seven Churches of Asia as presented in Revelation 3:7-13. The band actually got its start back in the late seventies when bassist/vocalist Brian Clark and drummer Brian Martini were both involved in a mainstream act called Survivor (not the same Survivor with the hit “Eye Of The Tiger”). Setting aside music for a year after becoming a Christian, Clark later joined forces with Martini (who met the Lord as result of Clark’s influence) and afterwards recruited the talented guitar team of Paul Scholling and Ronn Flowers. With its final line up in place, Philadelphia went on to sign with the independent label Patmos Records before recording and eventually releasing Tell The Truth.
What we have in Tell The Truth is an erratic and sloppy sounding blend of classic metal and melodic hard rock that proves equal parts brilliance and equal parts filler. When Philadelphia is at the top of its game, nevertheless, they hit the literal nail on the head. Take the albums driving title track, for instance, or the catchier sounds of “Livin’ For The Love” and “Razor’s Edge”- three examples of eighties influenced metal at its best. The eight minute “New Jerusalem” – with its apocalyptic lyrical themes – mixes in elements of progressive rock to stand out as by far the strongest composition here. The remainder of the albums material, on the other hand, comes across on the non descript side of things in that “No Compromise, “No Time For Honey” and “The Life Inside” all serve to showcase the bands lack of experience and maturity.
Clark, contributing an even sounding and mid-octave vocal style, might not have the talent of Mike Lee (Barren Cross) or Josh Kramer (Saint) but stills puts forth a solid and commendable showing. One of the albums highlights has to be the skillful dual lead work of Scholling and Flowers. To understand my point just check out the flashy soloing abilities exhibited by the two on “Livin’ The Love”, “Razor’s Edge” and “New Jerusalem”. Martini is a very fine drummer whose performance is held back by the problems with the albums production.
Demo-like and paper thin, the production values here reflect the shoe string budget the band was given to work with. More often than not, for example, the drums lack in power and presence, while the rhythm guitar comes across weak and transparent. Only the lead guitar rises above the instrumentation as it should.
It is worth noting that producer James Griffin, who won a Grammy for his work with the famous disco song “Ring My Bell” (by Anita Ward), brought no prior hard rock experience to the project. Philadelphia, obviously, is not a disco band and Griffin, equally obvious, does not understand hard rock. And like Shaq and Kobe, this is not what you would refer to as a “match made in heaven”, which in my estimation contributes greatly to the albums production shortcomings.
The clashing symbols and pounding rhythm guitar at the start of the albums title track give way to a drum solo and several seconds of lead guitar. Moving forward at a driving mid-temp pace, the song makes an even transition as it obtains a chorus of the stalwart and determined variety. "Tell The Truth" does exactly that:
C'mon, tell the truth, you know His name
The Lamb was slain, but He lives again...
He’ll destroy all who name the name of darkness
See evil’s kingdom crumble
Every knee shall bow, every mouth shall say that the Prince of Peace is Lord
"Livin' For The Love" represents Philadelphia at its very best. Set in motion by a hard hitting guitar riff, an edgy rhythm impels the song ahead until it decelerates for a chorus guaranteed to pull you in with its resonant feel. Scholling and Flowers tear it up with a stretch of fiery lead guitar work. “Livin’ For The Love” talks about the only source of true love:
I'm livin' in the love of a risen Savior
Livin' in His love
Yeah, He died for me, it's right from the start
And straight from the heart
The watered down melodic rock of “No Time For Honey” proves one of the albums lower points with its lack of a notable chorus hook and pedestrian delivery. A nice lengthy run of lead guitar is not enough to put it over the top.
The boogie flavored hard rock of “No Compromise” moves at a faster tempo but also fails to hold up musically. Another weak chorus along with an all around uninspired atmosphere adds up to the second filler track in a row.
"Razor's Edge" – an aptly titled track if there ever was one – rates with the albums better material. Several seconds of open air rhythm guitar introduces the song before it takes off to an aggressive riff backed by a hammering wall of drums. Moving through its first verse in energetic fashion, “Razor’s Edge” tapers off before obtaining a punchy chorus in which a profound environment is put into place. Scholling and Flowers again steal the show with a riveting lead guitar trade off.
"The Life Inside" ranks alongside "No Time For Honey" and "No Compromise" as the least notable compositions here. Advancing in an eighties influenced hard rock direction, the song is held back by an ordinary sounding chorus and restrained rhythm guitar sound.
The eight minute "New Jerusalem", on the other hand, is nothing less than a classic. Commencing to a quietly played blend of rhythm guitar and bass, “New Jerusalem” slowly proceeds through its first verse as the millennium kingdom is portrayed:
One thousand years, His reign shall be
And every eye shall be, the one to see His glory in New Jerusalem
Stopping dead in its tracks, a catchy guitar riff takes over and shores up the songs second verse in an anthem-like manner as the New Jerusalem is expounded upon:
Behold the New Jerusalem, sent down from God above
The dream of all his saints fulfilled, the city of His love
"New Jerusalem" moves on to an incredible three minute instrumental section showcasing a bass guitar solo and a lengthy stretch of the albums best dual lead guitar work. The songs message could not be summed up any better than in its third and final verse:
The city has no sun or moon
No need of stars, so bright the glory of the Lamb is all
Jesus is the Light
Am I out of line to suggest that Philadelphia, at this young stage in its career, was not ready to enter the studio? When you end up with three filler tracks out of seven, to use a well known term from basketball, you are not shooting a very high percentage. Irregardless of the albums poor production, first rate numbers such as "Livin' The Love", "Razor's Edge" and "New Jerusalem" hint at the potential the bands fulfilled on its very fine follow up effort Search And Destroy.
In 1999 Tell The Truth was re-issued on CD by M8 Records with two re-worked tracks from Search And Destroy – “Oh My Boy” and “Showdown” – and several radio promos.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "Tell The Truth" (4:53), "Livin’ For The Love" (5:27), "No Time For Honey" (3:30), "No Compromise" (4:03), "Razor’s Edge" (5:03), "The Life Inside" (3:08), "New Jerusalem" (8:41)
Brian Clark – Lead Vocals & Bass
Paul Scholling – Guitars
Ronn Flowers – Guitars
Brian Martini - Drums