Saturday, April 27, 2013

Deliverance - Camelot-in-Smithereens (1995)

Deliverance formed in the 80s as a thrash band and gradually morphed their way into a more progressive, melodic sound, akin to Queensryche. Taking a decidedly Christian approach, they were generally overlooked in the metal circles, since most non-Christian metallers don't appreciate being preached to. And their lyrics are quite preachy, but they make up for it by being a jolly decent band. This was their poorest selling record at the time of release (or soon thereafter, obviously).

My exposure to Christian Metal was through a local radio station in Golden Bay. I later found one on another station in Christchurch, one week before it disbanded forever. This introduced me to bands like Sacred Warrior, Crystavox, Virgin Black, Seventh Angel* and possibly some others. I swear I've heard Vengence Rising too, but they obviously didn't leave a lasting impression because I cannot remember their song!

 This is one of two Deliverance albums I own. It is their seventh full length album. I should have listened to the other one first (it's an earlier release) but this one hasn't had so much "ear play".

As packaging goes, it's pretty dull. Designed to look Arthurian I think, in that it's all sepia tones and parchment patterned, with the writing and cross/circle designed to look like embossing on leather.  Lyrics inside and no band photo, although the back cover features a photograph of one of those narrow castle windows.

The album opens with the appropriately entitled "Somber Theme (where are you)". Vocalist Jimmy P Brown has a low voice, a high baritone (at my guess) with good strength to it. He sounds rather like Geoff Tate doing the low notes, but does not do the operatic tenor of Tate. Somewhat repetitive but with a strong somber and sonerous sound.

Second track "Lindsay" begins with heavy rifts and eerie distortion, like the climactic build up during a horror movie. Then the drums and bass guitar kicks in.The vocals are low and smooth, edged with honey. I think this may be a song about unwanted pregnancy - at least a spoken bit (half drowned by bass) indicates this. Apparently those between the ages of 15 and 21 make up 42% of unwanetd pregnancies.

"Not Too Good For Me" has a distinctly Queensryche vibe - albeit from their less interesting days. Brown's voice has a good strong vibe to it, and I want to say "cadence" but I'm not 100% sure if I'd be using the term accurately. Wikipedia isn't too helpful on describing how things sound. Much like this blog really. The beginning is slightly echoey and eerie, before a more typical rock vibe steps in.

The moody "Anymore" beings with slow, entwiningly melancholic guitar. The vocals are, once again, mid-low and smooth and rich, like milk chocolate. Funnily enough, I was just discussing the use of the word "anymore" in writing and whether or not it was appropriate to use it. In this case, definitely. The low sound creates a wall of emotional pain and loss, the strumming bass accentuating this, punctuated by sharp percusson.

Picking up the pace, but not the mood we shift into "Book Ends". The vocals are pitched higher, proving that Brown can manage a passable tenor (albeit not for long) - and does sound quite surprisingly like Geoff Tate (in more recent days when his vocal range has shifted down an octave). Songs filled with reading puns are all good by me!
"...I'm on the shelf..."
Even if it is a "finding God" song and the lyrics print the word "two" as the number "2" which I  do not like. But it is better than in the previous track, where they substituted the word "for" for "4". Ick *shudders*.

The tempo picks up and into the rockin' "Beauty and the Beast". Good rhythms and catchy rhymes. Sound kinda familiar? It's a Bowie song. Brown's voice is not entirely disimilar to Bowie, although not quite as low and sehxy. My favourite so far.

"Make my Bed in Hell" begins with low, distorted vocals, moving faster until the words trip over themselves.

By "The Red Roof" I'm starting to zone out a bit. The songs are good - pleasant to listen to and the vocals are appealing. But they're not particularly inspiring and are beginning to blur together. Perhaps this is why it has taken me almost a week to get around to reviewing this album (I keep starting it then getting distracted from dissecting and having to backtrack a track). It ends with evil and meancing distortion, like mists raising from the gates of Hell.

We then move into another low and moody song - "In-U". Again with the horrible text speak. This was published in 1995. Was text speak even really used then? Anyhow, this is the song that kept playing on my ishuffle when I had this album loaded onto it. It's good, strong, with some very powerful and quite stirring moments. Good bit of emotional overload in the chorus. He seems very passionate in his faith:
"Just when I thought my life was through, it was then that I found my faith in the fact that I believe... in U."

How does this album rate? Well, individually the tracks are pleasing to listen to. The vocals are low and smooth, occasionally low enough to be considered properly sexy, but generally a sort of halfway between tenor and baritone that is not variable enough to sustain the interest for an entire album. The pacing of the songs seems to be consistently slow and a little depressive. Lyrics don't seem to be too much preaching or God bothering. Not as dull as the more recent Queensryche, but not nearly as interesting as the older.

I'd give it 7/10 but the use of single letters or numbers instead of words bugs me too much. So I'll dock them half a point  and rate it 6.5/10.

* Although I believe that was actually through Speed Kills 6 and "Falling away from reality" a song about suicide, actually, the whole album ("Lament for the Weary") is about abuse leading to suicidal thoughts and presumerably eventually the finding of God. Pretty depressing for a concept album.

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