Wickeds End – Wickeds End

WickedsEndWickeds End is back! After returning to the faith and music several years ago, I have always wondered if Glenn Rowlands would resurrect the band that introduced most of us got to him. If you wondered the same thing, we now have that answer. This is probably the heaviest Wickeds End to date, residing generally in the “experimental crossover thrash” realm as their BandCamp site describes it. While this is a live demo recording, the sound quality is still really good. I’m hearing elements of classic thrash, death, black, and speed metal all nicely mixed together. Even a few nods to older Wickeds End songs (see the intro to “Theories of Lies” and the cover of their own “Truth Hurts”). I should note that this is technically a new band formed around Rowlands, but he seems to have found some talented metalheads to work with. Which is no small feat – that is a dying breed these days. Lyrically, this is straight up Christian extreme metal with conservative lyrics (so the more liberal readers should just be ready for that). Someone like Sky Burns Black should sign these guys right away.

[2015 Independent | Purchase: wickedsend.bandcamp.com]

No Lost Cause – Fight E.P. 

posted in: Music Review, September 2016 | 0

NoLostCause-Fight90’s influenced melodic Punk tinged with 3rd wave Ska. Production is all around good, has that old Fat Wreckords feel. Unashamed of faith, hope filled lyrics. Fans of Face To Face, Value Pac, Ghoti Hook, and O.C. Supertones will find a fast place in their collection for this album. The title track is my favorite on the E.P., gives more of a modern melodic HardCore Punk punk feel to the E.P. Strong outing overall from No Lost Cause. The Rick Astley cover is a good time. Drop by on BandCamp and give it a listen! Support the underground!

[2015 Thumper Punk Records | Purchase: thumperpunkrecords.bandcamp.com]

The Old-Timers – ‘Turn It Up’ and ‘Turn It Off’ EP’s 

posted in: Music Review, September 2016 | 0

a1725724514_16Two awesome new EP’s from the Old-Timers, 4 songs each of pit friendly Punk, played the right way. The underground Christian Punk scene is starting to snowball in a good way, great bands poping up all over the place and others are starting to really hit their stride. Old-Timers were an instant favorite when I heard the Soli Deo Gloria LP, these EP’s are a step up! Guitars remind me of old 80’s O.C. Punk like D.I. and Adolescents, really cool,  but drums, vocals, and bass are that brand of old school HardCore Punk that can only come from the east coast, really tight rhythm section, where as O.C. HardCore has that surf rock slop to it. One of the best bass players in the scene, dude rips. These guys could have come out in 1982 and fit right in with the best. Ninah Llopis of The Lead sings Guest Vocals on ‘Homeless Friends’.  JCHC, PMA lyrics, get both of these EP’s!

[2015 Thumper Punk Records | Purchase: thumperpunkrecords.bandcamp.com]

Blast From Oblivion – To Hell And Back

posted in: Music Review, September 2016 | 5

Blast From Oblivion - To Hell And BackIn the darkest corners of Punk Rock sub genres you will find Horror Punk, a scene that has been around since Punk Rocks early beginnings with bands like the Damned, the Undead, and the Misfits. It’s one of my favorite sub genres because it has yet to be tainted by corporate hands. Most bands in the genre lack in the originality department and come off as Danzig and Michale Graves clones, while others like the short lived Pitch Black took it in a different direction with a Skate Punk vibe. The debut from Blast From Oblivion is an original, mixing elements of Street Punk and Thrash as well as some melodic Goth moments. Great album start to finish: driving beats, gruff vocals, lyrics are are strong, good melodic guitar, all handled by one man named Splatter Guts, whom I think handled the production as well. Solid release from the Sky Burns Black label, look forward to hearing more from B.F.O. If you enjoy high octane Punk Rock, get this!

[2015 Sky Burns Black | Purchase: skyburnsblack.bandcamp.com]

Jesus Triumphant by Brian Godawa

posted in: August 2015, Book Review | 0

Jesus-TriumphantI just finished reading Jesus Triumphant, the latest book in the “Chronicles of the Nephilim” series by Brian Godawa. I’m not one who searches the modern Christian section on Amazon to find something to read much less browse the “Christian Fiction” section. The “Chronicles of the Nephilim” series sits head and shoulders (pun intended) above what most of Christendom is dishing out these days. Brian doesn’t shy away from sex and romance in these books but they are a far cry from the romance of other books in the genre like Pioneer Brides and Romance In The Amish Country. Brian also doesn’t shy away from describing the depraved sexual acts of the fallen watchers.

If any atheists are reading this, I’ll give you a minute to compose yourself after I’m sure you’re still laughing your ass off thinking, “shouldn’t all Christian writing be in the fiction section?”

Ok chuckles, let’s continue on. I first found out about Brian’s book series by listening to a podcast that is heavily focused on a futuristic end times scenario, think Left Behind.  I don’t hold this particular view but my interest in transhumanism and the Nephilim force me to these questionable theological places to get information.

The interview was very informative but I probably wouldn’t have bit if Brian wouldn’t have politely dodged a question trying to relate what happened in the days of Noah with what is projected to happen during the end times.  I was pleasantly shocked since almost all research on the Nephilim has some sort of end times relevance.

So what is this series all about? Well, a lot of things. First off they are of course about the Nephilim (Genesis 6). A lot of teachers either shy away from the earliest and I think clearest interpretation of the text or go way out of Biblical bounds in regards to their importance. Brian does a fine job of staying within the Biblical framework. This series is also very well written, all of these books were hard to put down and I finished all of them within a few days. They also personalize Old Testament stories in a way that is refreshing. Brian has done some extensive historical research and fills in the details that humanizes and clarifies some of these Old Testament stories that when read with modern mindsets can seem strange, if not incomprehensible. He admittedly takes some liberty to flesh out the stories but holds to what could have happened.

All of these books come with an extensive appendix where Brian lays out his reason for telling the story the way he does and some fascinating research on things like the cosmology of the Near East, a more Jewish version of the afterlife and how the Nephilim story really is front and center in all of the Old Testament and with this new novel, some of the New Testament as well.

I was happy to read at the end of Jesus Triumphant that there is going to be another book about the fulfillment of the prophecies in AD 70. These books do contain some language and as I mentioned early some sex scenes, Brian describes them as PG-13. He has come out with an edited series for teens. These are also available as audio books.

I’ve interviewed Brian several times in Down The Line and on the Basement Tapes. You can reference those for more info about the books and the storyline. Brian has also released the appendix of the books as one unit which has been an invaluable source for me as I study the Bible.

[2015 Brian Godawa | Purchase: godawa.com/chronicles_of_the_nephilim/index.html]

Doomsday Hymn – Mene Tequel Ufarsim

posted in: August 2015, Music Review | 0

Doomsday-Hymn---Mene-Tequel-UfarsimBack in the day, long before Slayer existed as band, Belshazzar was seated on the throne in the palace in Babylon, holding a big feast. While partying it up, sacred
vessels were taken from the Jerusalem Temple. They drank wine from these vessels while praising the Babylonian gods, thus profaning Yahweh. A disembodied hand appears and writes “Mene Tequel Ufarsim,” the name of the new Doomsday Hymn album, on the wall of the palace. After several failed attempts to interpret, Daniel is sent for and interprets the message as the end of the Babylonian kingdom. Later on that night, Belshazzar is killed and Babylon taken over. This makes for a perfect segue for the band Doomsday Hymn to plug in their instruments and play majestic thrash as the backdrop for the sacking of Babylon.

Doomsday Hymn are a Brazillian band. One of the guitarists from another band I like, Seven Angels (on Bombworks Records), joined up with this band. To my ears, they sound as good and tight as Sepultura. They released their debut EP in 2013, and Rotweiller Records picked them up for this record. As I write, they are playing all over Central America for several months. The live footage I’ve seen showcases their great stage presence. Singer Gil Lopes is an aggressive frontman with a love for his craft.

All the right ingredients are here: fast and technical guitar, a roaming, growly bass, brutal vocals, and tight, tight drums. Be forewarned that the album is sung entirely in Portuguese. Yes, this is an amazing effort, and it is not metalcore.

So if you are a fan of the old school, do yourself a solid and check out their YouTube videos. Then go to: http://www.rottweilerrecords.bigcartel.com/ and get their new album.

[2015 Rottweiler Records | Purchase: rottweilerrecords.bigcartel.com]

Robert Vaughn & The Shadows – Love And War: Special Edition

posted in: August 2015, Music Review | 0

R-2259531-1342829192-4538.jpegRandy Layton does it again. Alternative Records has been excavating musical treasures and releasing them for 26 years. I picked up Robert Vaughn’s Love & War album back in the late 80s due to the “genius” reputation Exit Records had earned. Exit was home to musical proteges wanting to hand a stick of dynamite to the CCM world. This was also the last album Exit released. With distribution from Island Records, Love & War received national radio exposure but a big splash it make not. The press compared Robert Vaughn  to Little Steven and Elvis Costello. While those comparisons may guide enthusiasts with no prior intro to Robert Vaughn, his music definitely stands out on its own.

Love & War is exemplary in how it meshes political themes throughout. Justice, the radio airplay single, may be identified as a rallying cry for the exiled in Central America: “Hear the justice like thunder, As it’s rolling down the skies, Where are all the fatherless people who swore they’de never die.”  The following two cuts, Palace Of Tears and Dreaming Fields amalgamate lament and apocalyptic hope.

Randy remastered this recording. Comparing the sonics of this CD to the original vinyl, I am pleased with a remarkably fuller sound. While the original recording is crisp, sound production standards of the 80’s were more thin than current standards. This re-release also adds more than ten bonus tracks, most demoes of tracks from the Love & War era. I especially enjoyed Writing On The Wall, a recording which also appears on Bootlevel, a CD compilation on Alternative Records in ‘94.

Other distinguishing aspects of this album are the real drums and keys. Keyboardist John Nau can really make the ivory blend and soar in a guitar-driven band. I would favourably  place this album in the same musical soundscape as The Alarm or Midnight Oil.  If any of this description resonates with you, I recommend picking up this CD. Alternative worked on this back in 2000 and was never officially released. But if you want more information, contact altrecords@aol.com

[2000 Alternative Records | Purchase: altrecords@aol.com]

Holy Blood – Day of Vengeance

posted in: August 2015, Music Review | 0

HolyBlood-DayofVengeanceWhen I first heard that Holy Blood was dropping the folk side of their folk metal signature sound, I was more than a bit worried. Black/death/grind/etc bands can easily become cliché caricatures of their own genre once they lose that particular element that makes them unique. It was the folk that drew me into Holy Blood’s sound initially. However, listening to Day of Vengeance quickly put those fears at ease. While the folk instruments are gone, the unique folk metal time signatures and vocalizations are still present, giving Holy Blood more than enough character to rise above the extreme metal pack. The vocal style is mostly growling that leans towards shouting – a nice mix that comes across well in the mix. This album seems to be a mostly one-man project now, but don’t let that worry you. The songs are brutal, diverse, and powerful. It’s almost as if an entire band is there. Personally, I find the artwork a bit creepy, but that’s a minor nit-pick (and it may have been meant to be that way). Holy Blood may be making some changes, but fans of brutal extreme metal will still find plenty to dig into here.

[2015 Bombworks Records | Purchase: Amazon]

Koinonia – Sonlight

posted in: August 2015, Music Review | 0

Koinonia-SonlightAnother stretch for DTL, but also another quality early Jesus Music release that fans with wide musical tastes should check out. Sonlight changed names to become Koinonia – this album was originally their self-titled release under their original name. This re-issue helps to make the connection with Koinonia, who made a name for themselves as a band and as well as backing up Andrae Crouch on his legendary albums. This album is a nice mixture of jazz, rock, pop, and progressive music. No matter what style is being played, the musicianship on display is top notch. As a bass guitar player myself, I can’t help but notice the great bass lines throughout. The most rocking song (“Truth Of Salvation”) is saved for the last, which is of course my favorite track – but I can see myself listening to the whole album when in the right mood. Another great re-issue by Born Twice Records.

[2014 Born Twice Records | Purchase: Amazon]