|Musical Style: Melodic Metal/Hard Rock||Produced By: David Zaffiro|
|Record Label: Image||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 1989||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 9||Rating: 75%|
|Running Time: 36:20|
After performing in several secular bands that opened for national acts, vocalist Rex Scott became a Christian in 1980 and played an influential role in his guitarist, David Moore, making a decision for Christ. The two proceeded to form Zion and subsequently recorded two demo tapes, Rock For Eternity and Thunder From The Mount, before signing to Image Records. On Thunder From The Mountain, the bands 1989 Image debut, Zion plays a well crafted style of melodic metal and hard rock backed by polished vocal harmonies and first rate musicianship. Scott brings out the best in the bands sound with his passionate but slightly gritty and gut level lead vocal style. Moore displays a nice melodic flavored touch on lead guitar, his talent standing out best on tracks such as "Less Of Me" and "Kick In The Gates". Bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer Tommy Bozung round out a solid rhythm section.
Thunder From The Mountain features a smooth sounding production job in which producer David Zaffiro (Bloodgood) adds just the right amount of polish. A near flawless blend of crisp rhythm guitar and fluid lead guitar is underscored by a prominent mix of steady bass lines. Only a drum sound on the muddy side fails to make the grade.
The album artwork, featuring a dragon assaulting a band playing atop a mountain, is good in concept but comes across cheesy due to not being of the same professional quality you would find on the cover of an album by Blind Guardian, Seventh Avenue or Rhapsody.
The punchy bass line carrying "Who Pulls The Strings" forward from the start soon interweaves with a crunchy rhythm guitar, the two driving the song hard and heavy to a chorus with a catchy radio friendly hook. A tasteful lead guitar and keyboard trade off closes out the songs last minute. "Who Pulls The Strings" talks about victory in the life of a Christian:
You think you're free but these chains you cannot see
They're wrapped tight on you and they never let you be
Sins desire will take you down to the fire
But God's the only one who can stop the twisted liar
Introduced to several seconds of open air rhythm guitar, the driving hard rocker “Kick In The Gates” moves ahead with an abundance of energy to a gritty chorus backed by a muscular bass line. A minute long instrumental passage is evenly allocated between a nice melodic flavored guitar solo and super tight rhythm guitar harmony.
After "Is It A Crime" begins to a combination of rhythm and acoustic guitar, it slows as a quietly played guitar line stands in support of its first verse. As the song picks back up in pace, the rhythm guitar gradually fades to the front of the mix and takes it to a catchy chorus delivered at an upbeat tempo.
The acoustic guitar initiating the semi-ballad "Help Me" gives way to crisp sounding rhythm guitar. Once the rhythm guitar fades to a reduced role in the mix, the song transitions to a chorus in which Scott displays the full range to his voice. Moore follows with a brief but well done blues flavored guitar solo.
"Thrillseeker" takes off in a rapid fashion only to abruptly stop dead in its tracks. Regaining its momentum, the song gradually moves ahead until it gains further impetus for a chorus driven with an abundance of fast paced energy. I wish the band had expanded upon an instrumental passage limited to several seconds of restrained lead guitar work.
Opening to a drum solo, "Sold You A Lie" quickly jumps out of the gate only to slow to a heavy duty blues based riff upon reaching its first verse. The song picks up speed as it transitions to a commercial flavored chorus fortified by polished background vocals. An instrumental section featuring only several seconds of lead guitar work, on the other hand, does not quite cut it.
"Roll The Rock" immediately kicks in to banshee-like vocal harmonies before slowing to an even mid-tempo pace for its first verse. As the song gains momentum, it evenly flows to a chorus bolstered by deep sounding vocal harmonies. "Roll The Rock" deals with trying to find the meaning in life:
Well we don't need TM or biofeedback
Just open the Book
He will roll away the stone from your heart
People seeking a new direction
What they need is a resurrection
Just as His Son who laid dead in the grave
"Less Of Me" gradually fades in until a gritty rhythm guitar carries its first verse in an upbeat fashion. Slowing in tempo, "Less Of Me" transitions to a smooth sounding chorus with a refined feel. A blistering guitar solo opens an instrumental passage ending to a quietly played guitar line buttressed by a bit of lead guitar. "Less Of Me" talks about the salvation experience:
Took up the cross - I'm crucified
I'm now a vessel where Jesus lives
There's nothing to lose
I had nothing to give
Less of me the key to my release
Surrender this life to You
Let Your Glory increase
A combination of rhythm guitar and keyboards introduces "He Love You" before the keyboards drop from the mix at the start of its first verse. Once the bass guitar moves to the songs forefront, it helps drive a chorus underlined in a non-descript manner by background vocals. Scott sums up the songs message as it slows to a prominently mixed bass line:
Your gift is eternal life, give it up to Jesus
He paid the ultimate price
No sin is too heavy for Jesus to take away
Thunder From The Mountain opens to its three best songs in "Who Pulls The Strings", "Kick In The Gates" and "Is It A Crime"; t he rest of its material, with "He Loves You" being the possible lone exception, easily holds up under repeated play. When combining the quality of its songwriting and production with the bands solid musicianship, the album proves a very fine debut of a talented band that, I am sad to say, was never heard from again. Rex Scott departed Zion after recording Thunder From The Mountain and went on to from X-Sinner and recorded the bands final album Peace Treaty.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Who Pulls The Strings” (4:27), “Kick In The Gates” (3:18), “Is It A Crime” (5:28), “Help Me” (3:10), “Thrillseeker” (3:17), “Sold You A Lie” (4:24), “Roll The Rock” (3:47), “Less Of Me” (4:33), “He Loves You” (3:52)
Rex Scott – Lead Vocals & Guitars
David Moore – Guitars
Jeff Johnson – Bass
Tommy Bozung – Drums
Martin Saner, Charles Meserole & David Zaffiro - Guitars
Rocker, Randy. "Zion Interview". Take A Stand (September 1990): 4 & 6.