|Musical Style: Heavy Metal||Produced By: Bill Menchen|
|Record Label: Retroactive||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2007||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 20||Rating: 75%|
|Running Time: 60:05|
One of the first bands to feature guitarist/vocalist Bill Menchen was Redeemer, a little known melodic metal outfit that got its start in the mid-eighties and recorded a cassette only demo prior to disbanding in 1989. Menchen later joined forces with vocalist Keith Miles and formed Final Axe. Releasing the heavy metal of the bands full length debut Beyond Hell’s Gate, the two began work on a follow up effort, Burn In Hell, but went their separate ways before it could be completed. In the early nineties Menchen put together Rev Seven, a group drawing upon the best elements of Redeemer and Final Axe in the four albums it recorded between 1991 and 1999: “The Unveiling”, “Hell And Back”, “Seven Years Of Good Luck” and “747”. Out of print and hard to find collectors items for years, all four have been recently re-recorded by Menchen and released in two volumes on Watergrave Records (a division of Retroactive Records). Heavy Laden Volume 1 includes all the songs from “The Unveiling” and “Hell And Back”, while Heavy Laden Volume 2 is made up of the material off “Seven Years Of Good Luck” and “747”.
Heavy Laden Volume 1 is a twenty track outing in which Rev Seven combines elements of classic metal and melodic metal with occasional forays into straightforward hard rock and doom. Fans of Saint, Judas Priest and Ozzy will find a lot to like here as will those into Bride, Dokken and Whitecross. Anyone who has followed Menchen’s career over the years, at the same time, will enjoy the influence of all his bands, both old (Redeemer, Final Axe) and new (Titanic, The Seventh Power). If classic metal appeals to you then check out “Kingdom Come” and “Power And Authorities”, two guitar driven numbers standing out with their gripping chorus lines. “Over And Out” and “White Horse Man” both come across catchy and heavy as well. Rev Seven moves in a more melodic direction with “Chains”, perhaps the albums most commercial sounding track, while “Dead Right Now” and “Save Me” both make effective use of keyboards. All in all, Heavy Laden Volume 1 proves a consistent effort in that out of its remaining 13 compositions I hit the skip button only a couple of times.
Over the years Rev Seven featured a revolving line up that included Menchen (guitars and vocals), his brother Bruce (guitars), bassists Ray Kilsdonk and Rod Reasner and drummers Tim Palmatier and Tommy Lagamina. For Heavy Laden Volume 1, however, Menchen handles all the instrumentation. His lead work, at times fluid and fiery and at others blues based, is combined with a more than abundance of upfront rhythm guitar. All other instrumentation is capably performed.
Production values come across crisp and solid in betraying no overriding elements of muddiness.
From a lyrical standpoint, Heavy Laden Volume 1 proves an open and upfront Christian effort. Despite the fact lyrics were not included as part of the albums packaging, they are easy to discern in that Menchen – who brings his trademark smooth sounding and mid-octave vocal style – puts forth a vocal performance that cleanly stands out above the mix.
In terms of the packaging, it is important to reinforce the mission of Watergrave Records: And that is to offer limited edition releases at a BUDGET price. Hence, the lack of lyrics and extensive liner notes. But that is okay because what we are offered in return is music that has not been publicly available in literally years.
The album gets off to a great start with “Kingdom Come”, an anthem-like hard rocker with a catchy chorus hook and blistering solo from Menchen. The rhythm guitar sound is really happening here.
“Powers And Authorities” delivers a classic metal sound that brings to mind Saint or Judas Priest. An excess of energy quickly hurls this one through its verse portions, the tempo not slowing until a chorus of a deep and resounding variety is obtained.
A no-nonsense hard rocker, “Sabbath Breaker” moves its full distance at a driving mid-tempo pace. A highlighting touch of keyboards imbues the mix as the song acquires its robust chorus.
“Chains”, with its melodic based feel and hook driven chorus, will pull you in on first listen. While a nice commercial touch is delivered here, the song is equally heavy in featuring a forward mix of rhythm guitar.
The symphonic hard rock of “Dead Right Now” would sound right at home on The Seventh Power’s self-titled debut. Combining an effective use of keyboards with an immaculately done chorus, I would rate this as one of the albums finer tracks.
“Father Of Lights” moves things in an up-tempo hard rock direction. Quite the energetic number, the song stands out as a result of its lightning-like run of lead guitar work and Christ centered theme to its lyrics.
Crunch driven hard rock might be the best way to describe “Fire”. A frenetic feel is reflected by the song during its verse portions before the scene evens out upon obtaining its commanding chorus.
The album heads in mid-tempo territory for its next two tracks, “Gotta Get Back” and “His Holiness”. “Gotta Get Back” delivers a metal edged guitar sound along with a melodic based chorus, while the worshipful “His Holiness” opens ominously before moving forward to a wall of doom-like riffs.
The up-tempo “Cast Down” takes an edgy rhythm guitar and joins it with a chorus standing out as a result of the energetic feel to its delivery. I enjoy how the song tapers off for an instrumental section fortified by a bluesy guitar solo as keyboards decorate the background.
A straightforward hard rocker with a stretch of fiery lead work and punchy chorus hook, “Kiss The Son” gives way to “No Return”, a Final Axe-style hard rocker showcasing a steadfast chorus and a plethora of guitar driven impetus.
“Babylon”, a terrific track with an apocalyptic lyrical theme, is impelled ahead by a chugging swell of rhythm guitar prior to transitioning to a chorus in which a sublime environment is put into place.
Getting underway to a bass guitar solo, “Over And Out” advances to a pronounced low end until culminating for a gripping chorus of a pull you in capacity. Another track that is heavy but catchy at the same time.
An effective use of keyboards is found throughout “Save Me”, a tendency which – similar to “Dead Right Now” – brings to mind The Seventh Power. The songs chorus, at the same time, is sustained by a prominent mix of rhythm guitar.
More apocalyptic themes are delivered on “Seven Thunders”, a powerful number joining a portent atmosphere with a chorus reflecting a heavy and driving feel. More bluesy lead work adds to the infectious scene.
Heavy Laden Volume 1 gets a bit thin near its end in that I find “The Hand Of God”, “Time Runs Out” and “Tonite” to not always hold up under repeated play. Far from bad, the three lack that extra hook of burst of creativity the better material here brings to the table. Nevertheless, in light of the fact the album features twenty songs, when given such a high volume of music to digest one can expect a small handful of tracks that are not going to appeal to their tastes. That being said, 17 good songs out of 20 is a high percentage- which is credit to the albums consistency.
“White Horse Man” brings the album to a very fine conclusion. An anthem-like number, the song actually reflects a touch of power metal in amalgamating an epic flavored chorus with a fluid run of lead work. The only complaint is that I wish this one were a bit longer.
Track Listing: “Kingdom Come” (3:17), “Powers And Authorities” (3:04) , “Sabbath Breaker” (3:35), “Chains” (2:58), “Dead Right Now” (2:24), “Father Of Lights” (2:29), “Fire” (2:26), “Gotta Get Back” (2:51), “His Holiness” (3:45), “Cast Down” (3:04), “Kiss The Son” (2:51), “No Return” (3:18), “Babylon” (3:09), “Over And Out” (2:29), “Save Me” (3:12), “Seven Thunders” (3:23), “The Hand Of God” (3:38), “Time Runs Out” (3:01), “Tonite” (2:28), “White Horse Man” (2:45)
Bill Menchen – All Instrumentation
Also Reviewed: Final Axe – Beyond Hell’s Gate, Final Axe – The Axe Of The Apostles, Menchen - Red Rock, Redeemer – Double Edge Sword, Redeemer - Anno Domini, Rev Seven - Heavy Laden Volume 2, The Seventh Power – The Seventh Power, Titanic – Screaming In Silence, Titanic – Full Steam Ahead