Review: The Seventh Power – Power And Glory

The latest album from musician Bill Menchen of Las Vegas NV, Power And Glory, is yet another powerful slab of metal with the twist of quite Biblical lyrics. Featuring several songs in the tuning of Drop A, which gives the guitars quite a low feel, and hosting Robert Sweet of Stryper’s relentless drumming, this album is quite a cool one. It was only in February that the third The Seventh Power album, Eternal Power, was released, and we already have some new music from Menchen.

But how does this album measure up to its predecessors and to the general Christian metal market? Production, as usual from Menchen, is a strong point, as the album is quite listenable. The riffs are still as heavy and crunchy as ever, the drumming still as crazy, the bass still as thumping. However, the lyrics follow in the vein of Eternal Power as they are lifted straight out of the Bible. While not a bad thing in some respects, I have a feeling some of the lyrics could be modified to make them flow better (kinda like the first two albums had as lyrics, that is, Christian lyrics with a bit of creative license). Vocals are solid, but an acquired taste, as fans will know, as the voice is kinda like Ozzy but with a mechanical/autotuned feel to it. Not bad, but some may find this to be a turn-off.

On to the music. Bill Menchen is a stellar guitar player and riff writer, as he has written some hundred songs over his career. Some songs feature a lower tuning that gives the package a fresh twist. No Other Name has a bit of guitar effects, for example, though it is in Drop C. As well, Look Into My Eyes is a powerful song “sung as if Jesus could sing [it] to you from the cross”, the lyrics of which I wish could’ve been a model for the rest of the album.

Track-by-track listing is as follows:

After The Image kicks in to rhythm guitar, the drums accent as the song pounds its way in. Good, but not remarkable. The following song, Blessed Is The Man, discusses several writings of the psalmists, with a super catchy “blessed… IS THE MAN!” lyric that is repeated at the beginning of each verse. The song grows tedious toward the end, but were it trimmed, it’d be excellent; as it is, pretty solid. Progressive structure as well.

Doom Has Come kicks in to a drum roll and a frenetic riff before tapering off to lyrics about God’s judgment on Israel. As mentioned, a bit of creative license in the lyrics could’ve made some of the phrasing a little less awkward. However, the breakdown at the end is super heavy and you could probably mosh to it. The next song, God Is Love, presents quite the lyrical contrast as it gives a message of hope, with the odd bass trombone blast during the chorus. The clean guitar parts are pretty mesmerizing too, as they’re something Bill Menchen doesn’t do often.

Similar to Doom Has Come but slower, In Thy Kingdom Come (once known as In The Prison House, featuring the story of Samson) is a decent track, while not a standout, with fast drumming and lightning-quick guitar. Personally, I don’t like this one as much, although I can see people liking it. However, the next track, Look Into My Eyes, is a fantastic, chilling track with creative lyrics from Jesus’s perspective. Cool riff as well. I like this song so much.

No Other Name uses lyrics from John 1 to speak upon the creation and divinity of Jesus. Simple structure, but effective, with a really good hook at that. I dig the pedal effect (phaser?) on the instrumental riff as well. Next, we have the title track featuring tons of effects and voiceovers, with a frankly monotonous feel. Could’ve been replaced with something a little more interesting, in my opinion.

Valley Of The Shadow is a reinterpretation of Psalm 23 (seems that all Christian artists reference this psalm at some point, eh?) that comes across uninteresting, as it kind of just drags on. Another piece that could’ve used some lyrical edits and some trimming as well. However, the album ends on a strong note with Wings As Eagles, opened and closed by clean guitar. The middle section, as powerful as In Thy Kingdom Come, features more sung/spoken lyrics stolen from the mouth of Isaiah, but the melody established by the clean guitars is frankly beautiful – only complaint is the abrupt ending to the song that leaves the listener going “huh? what happened?” instead of a fade out.

All in all, about half the songs are good to excellent, and half could’ve used a bit of refining. If you are a diehard Bill Menchen fan, get this, but this probably isn’t the best introduction to his work – I’d start with Menchen – Red Rock and The Seventh Power – Dominion And Power (arguably the most solid work from Bill and company).

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

RIZIN debut album being recorded

Out of Arizona comes the new Christian doom-ish band RIZIN, currently in the studio recording their debut album In Ruins. Updates are being posted on Facebook, including a video of the band members each recording their parts of Tetelestai.

To get an idea of their sound, check out their ReverbNation profile for some demos. The closest comparison I can make is the band Goliath, fronted by Mick Rowe, on account of the gravelly vocals and the chugging riffs that are common to both.

Release of “In Ruins” is expected for December 18th, a week before Christmas. So make sure you pre-order the album to give it as a gift to that special metalhead in your life! 😉

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Seventh Power – Power And Glory now released!

The fourth album from the Bill Menchen/Robert Sweet project The Seventh Power, titled Power And Glory is now available for purchase as a physical copy (actually, it was since Halloween night, but I regret my laziness in not sharing it here until now). Soon, it will be available for download from Amazon and iTunes as well.

An EP, featuring 4 tracks, and a single, were available from January 2011 until recently, featuring 5 tracks from the album: Doom Has Come, In The Prison House, No Other Name, Power And Glory, and the single Look Into My Eyes.

Bill had the following to say about the album on Facebook:
 
“In The Prison House” became “In They Kingdom Come”, with everything changed except drums. The rest had some tweaks and new mixing. About 40 minutes total. This album features new low guitar tuning on new tracks for a slightly different vibe. And of course, some of the most insane drum work yet from Robert Sweet of Stryper. Both insanely good, and just plain insane.

Simultaneously, the video to God Is Love, a new track from Power And Glory, was released simultaneously:

I hope to receive and review the album soon. Rock on!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Armageddon, Part II

The battle is not yet complete, if the band is any indication. In the late ’80s, Armageddon released their debut album, The Money Mask (an excellent slab of heavy metal that you should definitely get), before pretty much going under. However, more than 20 years later, the follow-up is being recorded. The band has regrouped and is currently publishing updates on Facebook. According to a few indications from the singer Michael Vance, the album will have a heavier feeling than its predecessor, without being all-out thrash. As well, the band is redoing In Your Face, from a demo (included as a second disc on the re-release of The Money Mask), for the currently untitled album.

More to follow soon, I hope. Armageddon is one of my personal favourite bands, on account of the strength of the debut album (only two tracks below average), and I’m sure many will be eagerly awaiting this new album.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stronghold – Fortress Rock review

Stronghold was one of the earlier Christian metal bands in the early ’80s. They played a blend of hard rock like the Daniel Band and some Black Sabbath-y doom. Stronghold only released one album, Fortress Rock, that was re-released by Retroactive Records recently. While the digipak from RAR does not have lyrics, and its track listing is in the wrong order, it does include liner notes from the singer/keyboardist.

And man, do I dig it. Although it’s not exactly an excellent, all-songs-blow-you-away offering, several songs are very good, like Stronghold, Barabbas, Dreams And Pretty Pictures, and Daybreak’s Coming. I find the hooks and songwriting to stand out most on those four, but the other four tracks aren’t bad either. The band offers a progressive, technical element to songwriting, with time changes (6/8 to 4/4 in Dreams And Pretty Pictures) and funny signatures (7/4 in Nobody Owes You Nothing [I think]). Still, the slow, atmospheric feel of some songs may not be suited to everyone.

Production, however, is a little rough as it was an early-80s recording and low-budget at that. Far from unlistenable, the raw feel to the production actually helps a bit to bring out the energy of the band. The remastering by J Powell (alias Cliffy) helps immensely, according to those who have the original vinyl copy (I don’t). All instruments are pretty clear, for the most part.

The signature track Stronghold opens to A Mighty Fortress Is Our God before transitioning to an anthemic song about God being a stronghold (of course) and refuge. Incidentally, the liner notes make mention about the fortress theme, saying that some Christians feel uncomfortable with the general idea of being strong, an interesting remark. The next song, Barabbas, starts with a quiet, rumbling bass line and keyboard/cymbal accents, before going heavy-duty to a verse and gang-vocal chorus. The lyrics focus on the story of the man who was set free during the trial of Jesus, a story that’s not necessarily true but quite interesting. What’s more, the last part of the song reconciles Barabbas to Jesus. Check the song out on YouTube; I think it’s my favourite song, what with the dramatic feeling and unusual lyrical topic.

Barabbas transitions into Dreams And Pretty Pictures, which goes between a slower swing-time verse and desperate square-time chorus. Also very strong, like the previous tracks. The album continues into No Superstars For Jesus, a 7-minute doom song which feels like it just drags on. Not bad, but could’ve used a bit of trimming here and there (particularly the intro and outro).

Daybreak’s Coming opens to quiet keyboard before a clean guitar line with appropriate rhythm-section accents take over. A laid-back chorus (tremendously catchy) warns to be ready for the return of Jesus. It almost has a bit of a Rush feel at times. After quietly fading out, Desert Walker with its high-energy riff takes over. The lyrics deal with living water and someone’s thirst for it. Very cool riff.

The Called maintains the energy level of Desert Walker, opening to a drum solo and then a heavy-duty riff. Although not at all bad, there is a bit of a direction-less feel at times in the song structure. The album closes with Nobody Owes You Nothing, which is mostly experimentation and progressive doom. The song almost drags on at times, even though it’s not a bad track either.

All in all, if you like hard rock with a prog/doom inclination, give this a try. It’s not the greatest album, but definitely worth checking out. I’ll give it 7.5/10.

Get it on Amazon.com by Retroactive Records.

Posted in metal, reviews, rock | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And we’re back..

Hey guys. I haven’t posted in… hmm… I can’t count that high… months. Well, since July. That’s because I went on vacation, then school started and I was too bazy (busy/lazy) to do anything except post stuff to Facebook. But currently, here’s some great news: Armageddon (who released The Money Mask in the late ’80s) is recording a new album soon. I found this out via talking to the vocalist, Michael Vance. So be ready for this new album!

As well, I’ve had a big influx of CDs from time to time. Here’s the latest:

The latest metal in my collection.

That’s Deliverance, Mortification, Boarders, Saint, Stronghold and Grave Robber. My favourite so far is Stronghold, with Boarders and Saint close behind. In fact, I’m about to write a review of some of those albums.

But yeah… I’m back. Until next time.

God bless!
DBF

Posted in metal, news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Big D is dead? NOPE!

Hear what I type here: Deliverance announced an official end to it all last year. As some may have thought, the Big D is back with a new album, “Hear What I Say!” featuring Jimmy P. Brown on vocals and guitar, Michael Phillips on lead guitar, Manny Morales on bass and Jayson Sherlock (Mortification) on drums.

The album will be released by 3 Frogz Records through Roxx Productions. It once was titled “The Annals Of Subterfuge” and that is in fact the title of one of the tracks that will be on Beyond The Riff radio this coming Sunday.

More info from http://www.roxxproductions.com/?p=143

As well, Michael Phillips (lead guitarist) is currently involved with thrash band Join The Dead and power metal band The Sacrificed. The interview with Michael Phillips on Beyond The Riff will feature music from those bands and Deliverance as well.

André

Posted in heavy metal, metal, news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment