|Mortification at the time of the Scrolls of the Megilloth album (1992). Left to right: Jayson Sherlock (Drums); Michael Carlisle (Guitar); Steve Rowe (Bass / vocals).|
(not in order)
1 Mortification - Scrolls of the Megilloth (1992), superb old-school Australian death-metal with brutal drumming by the energetic Jayson Sherlock and strong philosophical and poetic lyrics by Michael Carlisle and Jayson Sherlock. This is one of the greatest death-metal albums in the Christian scene and should be listened to by all death-metal fans. Unlike the band's first two albums which were death / thrash with death vocals, like Kreator or Sodom, this was the band's first and only pure death-metal album. It starts with the night forest sound-effects of "Nocturnal", goes on to two fast exciting tracks "Terminate Damnation" and "Eternal Lamentation" and then later we get classics such as "Death Requiem" (with the wonderful pompous graveside vicar's speech) and the demonic sounds in the brutal "Necromanicide". We get the slow pounding "Lymphosarcoma" (about a form of cancer), then the speedy "Inflamed" and the extended epic "Ancient Prophecy". Although the lyrics are much better than on later albums, they still have that "run to the light" warning as found in the doom band Trouble. Best lyric: "The ostentatiousness of Satan has been cast into the burial ground". Everybody should head to their dictionaries now to find out what that word means!
2 Sacred Warrior - Rebellion (1988), the debut album of American power-metal band Sacred Warrior and the first of four excellent studio albums issued over the period 1988-92. The band was based around the powerful operatic vocals of Rey Parra and the guitar genius of Bruce Swift. The band recently reformed without Rey Parra (unfortunately) and released the comeback album Waiting in Darkness. Rebellion includes the classic fast opener "Black Metal", which was almost prophetic for a song written that early in time. "Mad Mad World" is a mid-paced philosophical statement condemning the state of the modern world and can be compared musically to songs like "Two Minutes to Midnight" (Iron Maiden), "Children of the Sea" (Black Sabbath); and "Sacred Heart" (Dio). "He Died" is an excellent ballad about the crucifixion of Jesus but its placing as the fourth song is somewhat strange. The highlight of the album is the fifth track which is the speed-metal classic "Children of the Light". All the other Sacred Warrior albums are of a high standard but the first one wins for me due to its innocence and charm (like Kill Em All or Killing is my Business). This band is similar in style to Iron Maiden, Queensryche, and early Fates Warning (with John Arch). I often say to people Sacred Warrior is "the best metal band most people have never heard" as the early Christian scene was plagued by poor marketing and poor distribution. This was long before bands like POD and Norm Jean sold millions of records. Yes there was Stryper but they were always an exception being on a major label.
4 Vengeance Rising - Human Sacrifice (1988), the legendary debut album of melodic thrash band Vengeance Rising from the USA. This was the heaviest Christian album ever at the time of its release in the late-1980s. It featured direct Bible quotes as lyrics and the Max Cavalera-type rough death vocals of Roger Martinez who famously later became an atheist. After the first two albums Human Sacrifice and Once Dead Roger continued the band with new musicians while the rest of the original band formed Die Happy which released two further albums and then split up. The cover art of the Human Sacrifice album featured the provocative image of a nail-pierced hand which belonged to Pastor Bob Beeman, an early and influential supporter of the Christian metal scene. All tracks are great but highlights are openers "Human Sacrifice" and "Burn" with the chorus of "Burn Satan Burn". This song was later covered by American thrash-metal band Ultimatum. The original members of VR, without Roger, reformed in the 2000s as Once Dead, with Scott Waters of Ultimatum and the nolifetilmetal.com website being the first replacement for Roger Martinez. The Once Dead DVD featuring Scott Waters on vocals is highly recommended as it features all the original VR classic tracks.
5 Living Sacrifice - Living Sacrifice (1991), From Little Rock, Arkansas, Living Sacrifice was an interesting band as they tended to change style with nearly every album. The debut album Living Sacrifice was Slayer-stye thrash-metal and this is my favourite. The next two, Nonexistent and Inhabit, were brutal death-metal, and then from Reborn (1997) onwards a more modern style of thrash-metal / metalcore was adopted featuring harsh screamo vocals. The band could be accused of just following trends. They will be remembered for very direct and challenging Christian lyrics and for being an incredibly brutal band no matter which style they adopted. I wish they had continued on in the thrash-metal style of the debut album but by the early-1990s this style was becoming very unfashionable and most bands were shifting over to death-metal or to black-metal or to industrial metal. This debut album was out-of-print for a long time but now available again. I think it is a very strong album which stands up well against any other thrash-metal album Christian or secular (except perhaps early Metallica who were just a class above everyone else at the time). The best comparison is Slayer for the debut album - the band is very fast and aggressive but very self-controlled and measured (compared to say Exodus' Bonded by Blood or Overkill's Feel the Fire). The band split up for a time and then reformed but may split up again for the last time soon.
|Living Sacrifice (USA)|
7 Holy Soldier - Last Train
8 Whiteheart - Powerhouse
9 Guardian - Fire and Love
10 Ordained Fate - Ordained Fate
Best wishes to all Christian readers over Easter, "we live by faith not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7).
|Yahnes of Tenggorokan in Kediri, East Java. Not many people know this but Yahnes was part of a Christian metal band once called Pentecost (now inactive).|
|Yudi (Sereignos); Yahnes (Tenggorokan); Dimas (Valerian); and Jack Frost of Busuk Webzine in Kediri, 26/1/2014.|