Label: Metal Blade
Track Listing: 1) Medwton 2) A Moment in Prime 3) Stoned 4) Redshift 5) History of Decline 6) The Need For Conflict 7) Focused Lethality 8) Shut Out the Sun 9) The Brave 10) Nonsense Mediated Decay
One of the lesser-known prog-tech groups from the later eighties/early nineties reform at a time when reunions in the genre are all the range. The Christian thrash metal outfit return after a long sixteen years out with one of the most addictive albums of the year that will interest fans of thrash and progressive metal. In a year where the likes of Megadeth, Dream Theater and Slayer release top selling albums, Believer would naturally have to produce a corker of a record if they wanted to even be noticed by anybody. I guess they would truly have to knuckle down and believe in themselves (sorry).
The atmospheric Medtwon sets things alight in style. A combination of fast riffage, peculiar synthesizers and anti-war lyrics is well executed. The guitars are heavy, each chord a mighty weighted chug that combines with some Rage Against the Machine-style vocals. A complex drumming pattern opens up A Moment in Prime which provides some variation concerning textures and time patterns. During the track brief switches from soft to heavy and time alternations led by the drums show off Believer’s technical and progressive tendencies which finally provide room for a soft violin outro. It’s this unusual combination that makes this band beg for your attention.
A honky-tonk piano is smashed aside during the opening bars of Stoned as yet another fierce thrash riff is unleashed amongst a wave of insane drumming, Believer clearly mean business. Redshift is most developed track so far in the vein of progressive metal with extremes of light and dark experimented with perfectly, the synthesizers and pronounced bass almost giving a taste of Porcupine Tree.
The next four tracks don’t disappoint, more riffs are churned out and the thrash ferocity levels remain constant. The flow of riffs keeps coming yet as enjoyable as they are, none are immediately catchy. Shut Out the Sun includes some melodic vocals although the standard is another matter – that’s not really the point of all this though.
Howard Jones (Killswitch Engage) is one of a handful of guest musicians to make an appearance on this record. His voice is much welcomed in The Brave, the contrast between Bachman works well, although Bachman’s shouting becomes rather outclassed.
Nonsense Mediated Decay is a lengthy instrumental. Nearing the nine minute mark, the frantic riffs and strange atmospherics unite and collide with sci-fi orientated voice-overs. This experimental break came at the right time; the thrash driven album takes another turn to the progressive side, strengthening the overall sound. As expected, the track is rather unusual to say the least and at times threatens to be a little too on the far-out side. Sudden tune changes are pulled off well although the finale of the track is a little anti-climatic, a shame because this had the potential to be mind-blowing.
Thankfully, the awe-inspiring album art (one of the best covers all year) isn’t the only good thing about this record. Gabriel is a solid monument that contains a healthy mix of musical styles. Venturing from technical thrash to prog metal with the help of synthesized layering can be a hefty task for many. Here Believer does a fine job of it. The power on show is exceptional and the differentiation makes this record thoroughly enjoyable. Does it stand out amongst the big boys? The answer is yes it does, but whether or not it will get the gratification it deserves is sadly an unlikely eventuation.
3) The Brave
Reviewed by: Daniel Aston, 17/01/2010