|Musical Style: Varies||Produced By: Doug Mann|
|Record Label: Regency||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 1988||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 9||Rating: No Quote|
|Running Time: 36:12|
East Coast Metal was the second of five compilations put together by Regency Records in the late eighties intended to highlight the talents of the more noteworthy unsigned Christian metal bands at the time. And when compared to its predecessor California Metal, East Coast Metal does just as good a job if not better in fulfilling that role, the album bringing a diverse collection of styles ranging from power metal, commercial metal, classic metal, speed metal/thrash to punk metal/hardcore. Four well known bands in Believer, Second Chance (soon to change its name to Armageddon), Arsenal and The Lead make their debut on East Coast Metal, while Rage Of Angels makes its second appearance. (ROA placed a track on the Heavy Righteous Metal compilation earlier in the year.) Two of the more talented bands appearing on the project, Apostle and Taker, unfortunately, never went on to sign with a label and record a full length album.
First and foremost, East Coast Metal does not consist of material taken from a bunch of muddy sounding demo tapes; rather, each band went into the studio and recorded its material from scratch. While production values are quite good in highlighting crisp and sharp sounding sonics, the rhythm guitar could have been beefed up a bit on several tracks.
As for Jacksonville, Florida based Apostle? And God said, "Let there be power metal," and there was power metal! Following the release of two critically acclaimed demo tapes, Chariots Of Iron and Hymns, Apostle brings a classical influenced and non-stop double bass driven brand of power metal that would sound right at home in today’s metal scene.
The fast paced riffing and double bass introducing "The Sword" stands in support of Matt Harding's immaculate classic tenor voice during its first two verses as he sings lyrics taken from Revelation 19:11-13:
I saw heaven opened
Behold a white horse
The Rider called Faithful and True
He judges and maketh war
His eyes were like flames of fire
On His head were many crowns
His clothes dipped in blood
He's called the Word of God
After Harding follows with several seconds of flashy, neo-classical influenced lead guitar work, "The Sword" closes with lyrics based around Revelation 19:15-16 during its third and fourth verse. The only complaint worth noting is that I wish the album had included at least one more track from this talented band (such as "I Am Persuaded").
Florida was also home to the straightforward metal and hard rock of Arsenal who recorded several demo tapes before releasing its full length debut Armored Choir in 1990 on Regency Records.
Arsenal features a talented female lead vocalist in Christine Scott who displays terrific range and dynamics to her voice on the tracks "Message Of Love" and "Stand Strong". The former moves in a slower but heavier bluesy musical direction, and the latter at a faster and more upbeat tempo in highlighting a catchy hook in its chorus.
With its hard hitting thrash influenced sound, Pennsylvania's Believer proved to be one of the more unique and groundbreaking bands to arrive on the Christian hard music scene, releasing several critically acclaimed albums in Extraction From Mortality, Sanity Obscure and Dimensions.
After "The Chosen" begins to thirty seconds of classical guitar, an all out thrash flavored guitar riff shores up Kurt Bachman's raw edged voice as he takes the song in a no nonsense fashion to its hard hitting chorus. Bachman follows with several seconds of blistering lead guitar work. The only drawback to "The Chosen" comes in the form of a less than adequate rhythm guitar sound. (The guitar deserves to be right in your face for this type of music!)
In the late eighties, The Lead independently released an eight song album entitled The Past Behind but later signed to R.E.X. and re-recorded the album from scratch. The band followed up with a sophomore effort entitled Burn This Record. I might describe The Lead as metal influenced hardcore fronted by both a male and female lead vocalist. And they pull no punches!
"Tunnel Vision" kicks in to a drum solo before a slower paced riff gives way to an all out thrash influenced assault, the song immediately diving into its forcefully delivered chorus at breakneck speed as Nina details the need for salvation with her rough and raspy voice:
Hey you, yeah, I'm talking to you
Jesus died on the cross for you
And He shed His blood for you
But you've got tunnel vision...
Advancing through its verse in the same no nonsense manner, "Tunnel Vision" transitions to a two minute instrumental passage opening to a blistering guitar solo followed by the same slower riff opening it.
Connecticut's Rage Of Angels arrived on the scene in the late eighties with an upbeat and energetic brand of melodic metal showcased best on their excellent 1989 self-titled Regency Records debut. Please note that the mix of "Reason To Rock" here differs from the one appearing on Rage Of Angels.
"Reason To Rock" proceeds through its first verse in a guitar driven manner before vocal harmonies enter the mix in time to back a strong chorus underscored by double bass. DiCostanzo and Kurtsman steal the show with a blazing dual lead guitar trade off supported by more double bass. While its lyrics are a bit on the clichéd side, "Reason To Rock" does not fail to get its point across:
So, let me tell you for your own good
It's gonna leave you in shock
Christ is the reason you live today
And He's the one way to rock...
Forming in the Washington D.C. area with an aggressive brand of classic metal bringing to mind Metal Church, Judas Priest and Saint, Second Chance recorded two demo tapes before changing its name to Armageddon and releasing its full length debut The Money Mask on Talking Town Records in 1989. Second Chance/Armageddon contributes a mix of the track "(Liberation From) The Blazing Wasteland" that is different from the one found on The Money Mask.
Taking off to a drum solo, "(Liberation From) The Blazing Wasteland" launches into a mega-huge driving riff that shores up its first verse with a ton of authority. The sweeping chorus that follows might border on the repetitious if it were not for the all out raw energy generated by the band. The focus of "(Liberation From) The Blazing Wasteland" is on the One who is the source of our salvation:
The gift of God, the Redeemer and Salvation
We lift Him up to excel our exultation
The King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, our liberation...
Taker deserves to rank alongside Apostle, Soldier and Paradox as the best Christian metal bands of its era to never sign a deal. Coming out of Virginia, Taker showcases an eighties influenced brand of melodic metal combining the superlative classic tenor voice of Kevin Potter with the exciting lead guitar work of P.J. Bussey.
"Yesterday, Today And Forever" comes across in the form of a semi-ballad as an acoustic guitar carries its first verse until the rhythm guitar enters the mix at the end of the second. A heavy but effective dose of vocal harmonies bolsters a chorus with good commercial appeal.
"Living By Faith" moves in a more up-tempo hard rocking direction. After quickly fading in, the song moves through its verse portions as Potter displays the abundant range to his voice before a touch of background vocals reinforce a solid hook driven chorus. "Living By Faith" talks about exactly that:
The substance of things hoped for
The evidence of things unseen
Prayers of faith are answered indeed
Trust in the One who made you
He knows what's best for you
Christ will always see you through
While Taker's tracks are quite sound musically, both could have been backed by a stronger rhythm guitar sound.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: Apostle – “The Sword” (3:30), Rage Of Angels – “Reason To Rock” (3:56), Arsenal – “Message Of Love” (3:54), The Lead – “Tunnel Vision” (4:57), Taker – “Yesterday, Today And Forever” (4:22) Second Chance – “(Liberation From) The Blazing Wasteland” (3:50), Arsenal – “Stand Strong” (3:36), Believer – “The Chosen” (4:07), Taker – “Living By Faith” (3:56)