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
Saint - The Revelation/The Mark
   
Musical Style: Classic Metal Produced By: Saint
Record Label: Armor Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 2006/2011 Artist Website: Saint
Tracks: 12 Rating: 95%
Running Time: 50:11

Saint - The Revelation

Do not seal up the prophecies of Revelation for the time is near.
-Revelation 22:10

Classic metal band Saint has gained renown for addressing end times prophecy throughout its four decade history.  The group’s first two albums, Warriors Of The Son (1984) and Time’s End (1986) dripped with apocalyptic imagery and its third, Too Late For Living (1989), featured a three song series - “Returning”, “The Path” and “Through The Sky” - inspired by the Book of Revelation.  When Saint returned following a 15 year hiatus with In The Battle (2004), it discussed topics ranging from the antichrist (“In The Battle”) to the second coming (“When”), while in 2006 it revisited Revelation with a concept album, The Mark, chronologically tracing the book from beginning to end. 

A new and improved version of The Mark - re-mastered and re-mixed from the ground up - was re-issued (as a download only) by Saint in the summer of 2011.  In order to distinguish it from the original, the album received a new title, The Revelation, in addition to slightly altered cover artwork. The CD version of The Revelation, following on Retroactive Records in March of 2012, features completely revamped (and highly improved) album artwork.

The Revelation/The Mark finds Saint in top classic metal form.  Musically, the album picks up where Time’s End and Too Late For Living leave off or, more specifically, maintains the momentum gained from In The Battle.

The album presents with good variety, which helps prevent it from turning into a trite listen.  Consider the catchy hooks of mid-paced heavy hitters “The Mark”, “Bowls Of Wrath” and “Babylon The Great” for examples of Saint songwriting at its best.  Faster and more energetic numbers such as “Ride To Kill”, “On And On” and “Reap The Flesh” also deliver the goods, while “The 7th Trumpet” dares to approach thrash metal territory.  A moving ballad can also be found, “He Reigns”, along with a shred instrumental, “Gog & Magog”, and a melodic based piece, “Alpha & Omega”.

My impression is that The Revelation represents the quintessential Saint album.  The perfect front to back continuity it brings helps capture the drama and emotion of the subject at hand while lending to an environs on the inspired if not anointed side of things.  It also features what I consider the best ever group of songs from Saint.  Yes, it matches Time’s End and Too Late For Living in terms of consistency but supersedes both from a quantity standpoint- The Revelation comes with 12 equally good song (as opposed to 9 or 10) that stand out equally well on their own.

What separates The Revelation from The Mark comes down to how the remix improves production.  I always felt that The Mark sounded fine for an independent band release (and still do).  The Revelation, however, takes things to the next level: Rhythm guitar now dominates in the more forthright manner while leads receive the cleaner mix; vocals present with better balance and drums the more natural sound.  The Revelation, as a result of these improvements, is now able to shine for what it really is- and that is an album made up of great songs!

Dee Harrington represents my favorite Saint guitarist.  Yes, John Mahan, appearing on the first two Saint albums, and Jerry Johnson, debuting on In The Battle, are very talented, but Harrington is a special musician.  His soloing, which sounds like a joining of Joshua Perahia (Joshua), Roger Moore (Gemini) and a faster version of Rex Carroll (Whitecross), helps put the album over the top.  If unconvinced then check out his work during the introduction to “Ride To Kill”, instrumental moments to “The Mark” and “The 7th Trumpet” or “Gog & Magog” (entire song).

Bassist Richard Lynch and drummer Larry London nail things rhythm section wise.  Lynch contributes some impressive bass lines on “The 7th Trumpet” and “Gog & Magog” while London’s performance on “Babylon The Great” proves he is one of Christian metals more underrated timekeepers.

Another versatile showing is put forth by Josh Kramer with his trademark Halford-like vocal presence.  Powerful but controlled at the same time, he can display the full range to his voice on “The 7th Trumpet (in which he adds some high end falsettos) but can smooth things out for more melodic based tracks such as “He Reigns” and “Alpha & Omega”.

The lone complaint revolves around the lack of extensive liner notes that come with the download files. All you receive is just a track listing and a short two sentence paragraph describing the project.  Frustratingly, there are no songwriting credits, lyrics or even mention of the band members performing on the album.  A bit more time and thought could have been spent here.  And those that own the original CD version of The Mark are aware that the lyrics include a few too many spelling errors.  The Retroactive version, however, cleans things up with professional packaging that features detailed liner notes and easy to read lyrics (as part of a 6 panel digi-pack).

Saint - The Revelation

Track By Track

Opener “The Spirit” proves a no-nonsense piece, bludgeoning its length to a full on guitar sound and drum assaults of the unremitting variety.  Powerful but gripping would be the best way to describe things.  “The Spirit” focuses on the message to the seven churches (Revelation 2 & 3):

Oh the book of prophecy
Time’s end is at hand
The writer sentenced to the rock
Sees visions of the end

And when you’re feeling on the spot
You’re neither cool, you’re neither hot
So filthy rich, a heart of stone
Repent, seek me at the Father’s throne

“The Vision” delivers the more forthright tempo.  A sweeping environs can be found here, reflected in the songs understated catchiness and awe-inspiring milieu aligning with lyrics detailing the throne of heaven (Revelation 4) -

Standing at the door
It opened to the Light
His majesty sat at the throne
A jasper stone in sight

- and the scroll and the lamb (Revelation 5):

In the right hand
Books and seals abound
And no one there to open
No not one could be found

The Lamb who was broken
Was slain but yet alive Receiving power and wisdom
And holy they all cried

“Ride To Kill” kicks things into high gear.  Hitting hard and fast, the song roars with abandon as Lynch and London lock into a furious low-end groove.  Harrington stands out with several runs of radiant lead guitar.  As its title implies, “Ride To Kill” deals with the opening of the first four seals from Revelation 6:

Look behold a white horse rides
To conquer and to curse
A second seal a call to war
The red horse rides the verse

What we have in “He Reigns” is a Saint-style power ballad.  The song joins equal elements of quietly played guitar (for its poignantly charged verses) and metal edged riffs (as can be found in its worshipful chorus).  “He Reigns” talks about the great multitude in white robes from Revelation 7:

Salvation belongs to our God
And to the Lamb who was slain
Salvation belongs to our God
He paid the price and now he reigns

After this I saw a multitude
From every tongue and tribe
All dressed in robes
They stood before the throne

The rollicking “On And On” brings the rhythm guitar to the forefront of the mix while highlighting some bottom heavy portentousness in the process.  The songs all out energy stands out as do lyrics painting a picture of the dreaded scorpions of Revelation 9:

The things were like scorpions
With accuracy they strike
And cries of pain would rumble
Through out the hellish night

The things were like horses
Prepared for battles end
To torment all mankind
The fruit of all their sin

“The 7th Trumpet” pushes things to the limit.  The song starts to a bass guitar solo before diving into a double bass driven passage bordering on all out speed metal.  But at a moments notice, however, impetus tapers exponentially almost to the point of the doom-like.  Amazing.  “The 7th Trumpet” draws its lyrics from Revelation 11:

Witnesses roaming and
Walking the wall
Flamethrower mouthpieces
Devourer all

Power to shut up the heavens and sky
Striking the earth with their
Plagues till they die

The albums title track begins to narration from Revelation 13:18.  Catchy is the first word to come to mind here, as the riff action proves commanding and chorus masterful with its pull you in and refuse to let go capacity.  “The Mark” is aptly entitled:

He causes all, the great,
The small, the rich, and the poor
To take the mark upon their hand
Or buy and sell no more

Those who take the beastly brand
They’ll drink the wine of wrath
Full strength in a cup of anger
Fiery flames, a fiery path

“Bowls Of Wrath” ranks with the albums more creative.  The song highlights a substantial weightiness during its verses but smoothes out for melodic based touches upon acquiring a sublime chorus that underpins God’s authority:

Yes, O’God almighty
Righteousness your judgment brings
Tread the winepress of Your wrath
You are the King of Kings

“Bowls Of Wrath” ultimately talks abut the seven bowls of God’s wrath (Revelation 16):

A voice from the temple shouts
Pour the seven bowls
Earth dwellers with the beastly mark
Pick at malignant, loathsome sores

Swing the sickle reap the earth
Let judgment ring
To the horse’s noise, blood flows
A payment of iniquity

“Babylon The Great” starts to a drum solo before a wall of rhythm guitar crashes in.  The song proceeds to plow forward in tenacious fashion, hitting hard and relentless but reflecting an emotional touch as it expands upon Revelation 18:

Drinking the blood
Of the merchants like wine
Till you’re through
Riding the back of the beast
Distorting the truth
The wine of her passion flows freely
And given to you

Fallen, fallen Babylon
She’s Babylon the great!!!

The soloing here is slowly played - almost to the point of being bluesy - while Josh lets loose with some blood curdling screams.

Saint puts it all together on “Reap The Flesh”.  With its feverish tempo, the song proves four minutes of inspiration in joining blinding riff action and a hulking chorus with lyrics pointing to the person of Christ:

Robed with white fine linen
His bride behind the truth
He’s waging war and concerning
False prophet and the beast are through
His robe is dipped and stained with blood
His eye’s a flame of fire

“Reap The Flesh” culminates as the beast and false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:17-21):

The birds of prey they gather
The final feast delight
The scoffers and the blasphemers

They’ve got them in their sight
And now the beast and prophet thrown in the lake of fire
To burn in there eternally

“Gog & Magog” (Revelation 20:7-10) is a wonderful instrumental allowing Harrington to showcase his riffs and chops.  I cannot help but be reminded of “Returning” (from Too Late For Living) as the song moves its distance to his jaw dropping soloing abilities.  Lynch lays down some mean sounding bass lines as well.

“Alpha & Omega” brings the album to its satisfying close.  This one evens things out a bit in taking a more melodic heading - you will find a complementary lacing of acoustic guitar - as it draws lyrics from Revelation 21:6:

That He’s the Alpha and Omega
Beginning and the End
He puts the lightning in my thunder
He’s coming back again

The River of Life (Revelation 22) is portrayed as well:

I saw the river of life
Flowing from the throne
Ending the curse of time
For everyone He’s known

Consistent but versatile would be the best way to describe The Revelation/The Mark in that the album seamlessly flows from one track to the next- all the while detailing the events as portrayed in Revelation.  Production is improved upon as a result of the remix and re-mastering while Saint remains spot-on performance wise.  The best way to sum up would be with Revelation 1:3: Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

Review by: Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “The Spirit” (3:28), “The Vision” (3:58), “Ride To Kill” (3:29), “He Reigns” (4:29), “On And On” (3:13), “The 7th Trumpet” (4:09), “The Mark” (4:20), “Bowls Of Wrath” (4:24), “Babylon The Great” (4:09), “Reap The Flesh” (4:20), “Gog & Magog” (4:52), “Alpha & Omega” (5:15)

Musicians
Josh Kramer – Vocals & Guitars
Dee Harrington – Guitars
Richard Lynch – Bass
Larry London – Drums

 

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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