RE: You asked for it...
Posted by: Don ()
Date: January 15, 2001 03:17PM

Hi Melodic Lover,

You’ve touched on a subject that's near and dear to my heart here, so you’re in for a rather lengthy response. In my opinion, the following list contains many of the most important Christian AOR/MHR/metal releases from the ‘80s and ‘90s. I haven’t bothered to list any of Stryper’s or Petra’s releases, as it seems you are already familiar with these bands. Here goes:

Saint – “Time’s End” and “Too Late For Living” – This band is a deadringer for Judas Priest on these two albums, and with the exception of “Destroyers of the World” from “T.E., there isn’t a dud track on either album. Their first EP was called “Warriors of the Sun,” and isn’t nearly as good as either of the two I mentioned. If you like metal in the vein of Priest/Maiden/Saxon, you’ll dig these guys.

Mastedon – “It’s a Jungle Out There” and “Lofcaudio” – This bands basically consisted of the Elefante brothers, John and Dino. You might recognize John’s name as he was the singer in Kansas for a while and his solo albums have been reviewed on Andrew’s site. Both are excellent albums and it’s virtually impossible for me to decide which one I prefer. I think I’d recommend that you start with “Lofcaudio, though, as it’s the most straightforward AOR/MHR album of the two. It also features John’s lead vocals on most of the tracks. (IMO, John is one of the best vocalists in the business.) Both albums feature guest lead vocalists, but “It’s a Jungle…” seems to feature more, and some which you might not enjoy (at least one of them has a rather harsh, abrasive, raspy voice not unlike AC/DC’s Brian Johnson). Still, both albums are absolute classics and are chock full of super-catchy, melodic songs. If you haven’t heard this band, you simply must!

Mass – “Voices in the Night” – Picture a band that is, sonically, basically 70% Stryper and 30% Dokken, and you have the idea. The lyrics are cheesy as h*ll, and it does contain a couple of filler tracks, but it’s still a very worthwhile album. Produced by Michael Sweet and/or Oz Fox from Styper.

Rage of Angels – s/t – Christian MHR in the vein of Crue/Ratt/Poison/Tesla. If that kind of MHR turns your crank, you’ll be sure to enjoy this band. Two or three of these guys from this band went on to form Steelheart. Thankfully, this album did NOT feature Steelheart’s vocalist, Mike Matijevik.

Halo – s/t and “Heaven’s Calling” - I’ve always thought of these guys as being sort of a Christian version of Survivor. Now, don’t get me wrong: no one who heard them would ever confuse them with Survivor. But in terms of overall sound, the two bands are similar. Both are about the same in terms of heaviness, and both feature strong, passionate vocals and big harmonies, etc. I have a feeling you’d really enjoy these guys. Both albums are good, but I think I’d recommend starting with the s/t album. “Heaven’s…” is a little lighter. Both were released on John and Dino Elefante’s Pakaderm label.

The Brave – “Battle Cries” - I didn’t realize what a gem this was until Bruce from this board brought it to my attention. What can I say? It’s just classic MHR in the vein of stuff like Dokken and Firehouse. Released on John and Dino Elefante’s Pakaderm label.

Chase – “In Pursuit” – Another AOR gem that is highly overlooked for some reason. Musically, this AOR album would fit somewhere between, say Santers and Loverboy. It’s simple, straightforward stadium rock filled with hook-laden songs.

Guardian – Their first album, “First Watch” always reminded me of Dokken in terms of the vocals and Van Halen in terms of the guitar playing. After that, they recruited Jamie Rowe on vocals, thereby bringing about many Tesla comparisons. If you enjoy Tesla’s brand of gritty MHR, you will be sure to enjoy this band. One further sidenote: Unless I’m mistaken, guitarist Tony Palacios is a GIT graduate, and quite well respected in guitar circles.

Holy Soldier – s/t and “Last Train” - Personally, I much prefer “Last Train,” but both albums are worthwhile. I have no idea who to compare this band to, musically. It’s clearly American in its sound (like Aerosmith, Ratt, Dokken, Cinderella, etc.) but it doesn’t sound like any of those bands. On an interesting side-note, this is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best looking band I have ever seen. I’m anything but gay, but I’ve gotta say that these guys are all drop-dead gorgeous. I remember seeing the cover of the s/t album and thinking to myself that they probably had a gazillion women (both Christian and non-Christian) chasing after them during and after every gig.

Shout/Ken Tamplin – Ken’s solo stuff has also been reviewed on Andrew’s board. IMO, Shout was a very talented band capable of producing top-notch AOR/MHR. Shout’s “It Won’t Be Long” is an absolute gem. There’s not even a trace of a filler track, if my memory serves me. I seem to recall this band being compared to Foreigner in a number of articles and reviews I read. That’s a pretty valid comparison in terms of their overall sound.

X-Sinner – “Get It” and “Peace Treaty” - If you like AC/DC, you will HAVE to like this band. Released on John and Dino Elefante’s Pakaderm label.

Barren Cross – If you like Iron Maiden, you will HAVE to like this band. Reasonably intelligent lyrics, too.

Sacred Warrior – If you like Queensryche, you will HAVE to like this band. Reasonably intelligent lyrics, too. (Are you sensing a pattern here?)

Whitecross – These guys were a deadringer for Ratt, due to Scott Wenzel’s similar vocal style to Stephen Pearcy. IMO, they were inconsistent in terms of the quality of their albums. But their first few contained some really good tracks, though. Personally, I love their s/t titled one and “In the Kingdom.” “Hammer and Nail” and “Triumphant Return” also very good. On a sidenote, Whitecross’ guitarist Rex Carroll is quite well respected in guitar circles.

Bloodgood - The closest sounding secular band I can think of would be Krokus. They started out as a Heavy Metal band playing American-style metal in the vein of stuff like Metal Church, Armored Saint, Lizzy Borden, etc. Their albums became progressively lighter all the way up to and including “Rock in a Hard Place,” which is my personal fave Bloodgood album. It’s a kick-ass MHR Aerosmith/Krokus-like affair and an essential part of any Christian MHR collection, IMO. My other fave Bloodgood album is “All Stand Together.” A lot of people prefer their early, unadulterated heavy metal albums, but I always thought the quality of their albums improved significantly when they lightened up a little.

Fear Not – s/t – The closest sounding secular band I can think of would be Skid Row.

Crystavox – s/t & “The Bottom Line” – The closest sounding secular band I can think of would be Ratt. To me, they actually sound a lot like fellow Christian rockers Rage of Angels. I still haven’t got a copy of “T.B.L,” but I got to hear a couple tracks from it in a Christian book and music store back when it was released. Unfortunately, all they had was a cassette and they never got a CD in. I remember the tracks as being very impressive and I really wanna add this to my collection.

Siloam – “Sweet Destiny” and “Dying to Live” – There’s a different lead singer for each of these albums and I don’t really have any idea which secular band to compare ‘em to. Perhaps House of Lords/Ratt/Skid Row (?!?!). Brent Millsop, who sings on “Dying to Live,” actually sounds a fair bit like Stephen Patrick from Holy Soldier.

Zion – “Thunder From the Mountain” - Sort of a mix between MHR and metal. Very solid.

Angelica – Three different albums featuring three different vocalists make it hard to describe this band. My fave album is definitely their “Walkin’ in Faith” album. It features Jerome Mazza, who sings in a very high register. It also contains some HUGE hooks. On an interesting side-note, this band was basically the pet project of guitarist Dennis Cameron, who I believe might have had some involvement in a few secular projects as well.

David Zaffiro – “Surrender Absolute” and “The Other Side” I’ve saved my favorite for last. “The Other Side” is my all-time fave Christian recording. I probably shouldn’t even get started on it, ‘cuz I could go on forever and ever about how great it is. I’ll try to stick to the essentials about it…
-It’s really varied or versatile in terms of it’s songwriting. Each song is unique and the material ranges from one or two fairly heavy tracks, all the way to very lightweight stuff reminiscent of the Alan Parsons Project. Initially, I was disappointed in it because I had hoped that all of the tracks would be heavy, like “I See Red.” It was only after repeated listenings over around 3-4 years that I began to realize how truly wonderful the different sounds, styles, and songs were.
-The vocals are strong, passionate, and VARIED. In this way, he reminds me of Mark Free. Now, before people start getting excited or upset at this comparison, let me explain. I’m not saying that David’s voice sounds like Mark’s. But in the same way that Mark’s voice is quite versatile and therefore well suited to anything from rather heavy material to much lighter AOR stuff, so is David’s.
-David’s guitar playing is, IMO, nothing short of stellar. He reminds me a lot of Joe Satriani, especially on some of the instrumentals on “Surrender Absolute.”
-Apparently, these two albums have been released in a 2-on-1 format. If that’s the case, then you simply can’t lose by picking it/them up. But again, be forwarned, this ain’t MHR-by-numbers.

Well, Melodic Lover (and anyone else who’s been reading this book), I hope this has been helpful. Obviously, you all have to recognize that the comments in this post are my OPINIONS. They represent my own personal thoughts, feelings, impressions, etc. You are free to disagree, but what I’ve presented here is Christian rock according to my own personal tastes & experiences. The downside to all of this is that much of the music I’ve mentioned is out of print and therefore quite rare and pricey. If I had a burner, I’d burn a bunch of this stuff for you. Unfortunately, I don’t…yet. Take care.

p.s. – I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few, but this is what came to mind at the time.

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SubjectViewsWritten ByPosted
PETRA - when were they at the peak of their career 199 Melodic Lover ( SPAIN) 01/15/2001 07:01AM
RE: Whiteheart and Fireworks 139 Eric Abrahamsen 01/15/2001 07:13AM
Fireworks 138 Mister Pomp 01/15/2001 05:51PM
RE: Fireworks 134 Eric Abrahamsen 01/15/2001 10:02PM
with or without Bearfoot? 123 Mister Pomp 01/16/2001 03:57AM
RE: with or without Bearfoot? 156 Eric Abrahamsen 01/16/2001 07:54AM
RE: PETRA - when were they at the peak of their ca 182 Don Wishon 01/15/2001 07:48AM
RE: PETRA - when were they at the peak of their ca 167 Eric Abrahamsen 01/15/2001 10:49AM
RE: You asked for it...239 Don 01/15/2001 03:17PM
RE: Avion / Twenty Twenty 151 Eric Abrahamsen 01/15/2001 09:56PM
What about Nouveaux? 139 Phil 01/16/2001 01:15AM
Fighter 157 koogles 01/16/2001 07:57AM
RE: Thanks DON , there/s always a helping hand ... 138 Melodic Lover ( SPAIN) 01/16/2001 09:23AM
RE: Thanks DON , there/s always a helping hand ... 172 Don 01/16/2001 10:10AM
RE: DON , I/ll let you know his website ... 153 Melodic Lover ( SPAIN) 01/16/2001 12:28PM
DREAMER 195Aaron C.01/16/2001 01:22PM
RE: PETRA - when were they at the peak of their ca 155 Brice 01/16/2001 12:53AM
RE: PETRA - when were they at the peak of their ca 138 Craig Conley 01/16/2001 03:55AM

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