|Musical Style: Metal/Hard Rock||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Roxx Records/Rottweiler Records||Country Of Origin: Varies|
|Year Released: 2017||Artist Website: Metal Pulse|
|Tracks: 16||Rating: No Quote|
|Running Time: 79|
Roxx Records and Rottweiler Records have joined forces in March of 2017 to release one of the largest compilation albums in Christian metal history, Metal Pulse: A Tribute to Dale Huffman, which pays homage to Dale Huffman, the late owner of Metal Pulse Radio. Having passed away February 9, 2017 following a courageous fight against cancer, Dale leaves behind a legacy of a family man, grandfather and husband to his wonderful family, as well as a great friend and supporter of many in the Christian Metal Community. Those friends and supporters truly showed their love of Dale when called upon for a very special tribute album.
Metal Pulse Radio was a weekly live broadcast highlighting Christian artists and ministries that Dale founded on September 1, 2007. He maintained the program for nearly 10 years until his health prevented him from continuing further.
Metal Pulse: A Tribute to Dale Huffman came together when Bill Roxx and Scott Waters of Roxx Records sent an invitation for participants on a fund raising tribute project, which resulted in over 50 artists and labels contributing tracks to the effort. When Roxx Records realized such a high volume of material would not fit on a single CD, Rottweiler Records owner Shaun Browning stepped forward to offer support, with the combined efforts of both parties leading to the 63 tracks that made their way onto the download version to the album. For those that collect physical media, a Limited Edition CD pressing (300 6-panel digi pak copies) featuring 16 tracks (of which 5 are previously unreleased) and 79 minutes of music is also available.
Of note is how all proceeds to the project (both digital and physical) will be going directly to the Huffman family.
The download version to Metal Pulse is outside the scope of this review; hence, we will be concentrating on the more compact 16-track CD release. Things get underway to the Metal Pulse Radio Intro, which transitions to the all out thrash of Ultimatum’s “Heart Of Metal”. If aggressive music is your thing - aggressive guitars and every bit aggressive vocals - then this is your song. It is not mine, however, in that I am not a thrash connoisseur, but I respect its place on the project in light of the support the form received on Metal Pulse Radio.
Compilation albums are renowned for variety, and Metal Pulse proves no different with the contrastingly smoother AOR to Sweet Crystal’s “Even Now”. The song delivers the required ingredients expected of the genre, as melodic vocals, accenting keyboards and even bigger hooks lead the way. Likewise, Shining Force, better known for its straight on metal sound, also plays up the melodic rock goods on its AOR tinged ballad “Holy Of Holies” in which gritty vocalist Randy Dickey lends an almost worshipful feel to the song.
Falling between the previously noted is the melodic metal woven with power/progressive aspects that is the title track to the Worldview debut, The Chosen Few. The haunting feel to the song proves the perfect vehicle to highlight the silky smooth vocals of Rey Parra, whom complements the emotional guitar flavorings of cohort George Ochoa. In a similar musical vein but with a strong symphonic basis is Promise Land’s “Christ In Us (CIU)”. Unlike many symphonic bands, Promise Land eschews the operatic female fronted approach in favor of lower register male vocals, which stand alongside signature symphonic elements in the form of piano, classical overtures and decided guitars.
Metal Pulse draws upon a strong traditional metal basis, as can be found in classic Saint track “In The Night” that balances Josh Kramer’s exuberant screams with John Mahan’s serrated guitar presence. Titanic takes a similar approach on “Freak Show”, pulverizing with its hit hard as it gets mentality and gruff vocals of Simon Tyler, as does Messenger with “Christian Rocker”, smoother and more melodic but no less heavy in proving aptly entitled with its front to back unabashed demeanor. Best of the bunch might by Stairway’s classic metal ballad “Across The Moon” with its transitioning between lighter moments in which lush vocal harmonies prevail and heavier passages that allow muscular guitars to rise above the surface.
A bit outside the box but good is the combination of shock rock, punk and hard rock of Grave Robber on “Fill This Place With Blood”. Yes, plenty of ‘whoah-oh-oh’ backing vocals - almost to the point of distraction - but also an abundance of catchy hooks and meaty guitars. Coloring outside the lines as well is the modern-to-grungy-to-hard rocking sounds of The World Will Burn, who features the expansive vocals of Dale Thompson (Bride) on its cut “Brand New Song”. Plenty of melody holds sway as does the cutting-edge guitar riffs of Alan Zaring.
Of the unreleased material, Brazil’s Dynasty leads the way with “Metal Pulse”, which judging by the title leads me to believe the group recorded it specifically for the project. Musically, what we have here is a classic metal slugfest in which a bass solo gets things going before lower register vocals, double kick drum and understated hooks prevail the rest of the way.
Also from Brazil is Sunroad, whom on “In The Sand” plays up a melodic metal and hard rock vibe in which a strong groove presence and blues soaked but melodic vocals prevail. I am somewhat reminded of early nineties Bride. Whereas I am not the biggest Sunroad fan, this is the best song I have heard from the group, which leads me to believe that its upcoming album Wing Seven (of which "In The Sand" appears) holds great promise.
Raising the heaviness while amalgamating a wide array of styles is Biogenesis, whose song “Tears Of God” is scheduled to appear on its next album A Decadence Divine. Wide array in light of how the group pushes the creative boundaries in running the gamut from straight on metal to progressive metal to Gothic rock to the symphonic side of things. Helping tie everything together is the at times melodic and others doom-ish and even extreme vocals of the ever-versatile Chaz Bond.
If looking to Join The Dead (figuratively and not literally) then check out the unmitigated thrash metal of the groups track “Waiting In Darkness”. Similar to Ultimatum, aggression reins supreme, particularly as it pertains to coarse vocals, battering ram riffs and a near speed metal proclivity. Again, this one is not my thing but certainly is deserving of its place here.
Albums lightest is Rainforce cut “Shine A Light” from how it breaks down to a heartfelt converging of acoustic guitars and the gravelly vocals of Jordan Cutajar. Yes, this one might be a bit basic and straightforward, but it is also quite good all the same. Look for “Shine A Light” to be included as part of the Rainforce debut album Lion’s Den scheduled for release in the near future.
As far as compilation albums go, Metal Pulse does an effective job paying tribute to Dale Huffman. It presents with well-rounded variety in this regard, ranging from the lighter (acoustic rock to AOR) to that heavier (classic metal and thrash). In between, the power/progressive side of things is accounted, as is a modern/grungy hard rock sentiment. Specifically, Metal Pulse encompasses a good portion of the genres inherent to the contemporary hard music scene, which (as the project aptly demonstrates) finds itself healthy, vibrant and creative. Thanks to Roxx Records and Rottweiler Records for the join effort that allowed the album to happen.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Metal Pulse Radio Intro” / “Heart Of Metal” (Ultimatum), “Metal Pulse” (Dynasty), “Christ In Us (CIU)” (Promise Land), “Waiting In Darkness” (Join The Dead), “Shine A Light” (Rainforce), “Tears Of God” (Biogenesis), “In The Sand” (Sunroad), “Christian Rocker” (Messenger), “The Chosen Few” (Worldview), “Fill This Place With Blood” (Grave Robber), “Even Now” (Sweet Crystal), “Across The Moon” (Stairway), “Holy Of Holies” (Shining Force), “Brand New Song” (The World Will Burn), “Freak Show” (Titanic), “In The Night” (Saint)