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Believer - Sanity Obscure CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.12 | 11 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars First of all I was stunned and pleasantly surprised to see Believer here on the progarchives as they are certainly one of the most innovative thrash acts of the late 80s and 90s. Their Christian/Bible based lyrics put them in that huge Christian metal category of the 80s when metal was king and everyone was into it.

Believer are a definitive blend of Morbid Angel meets Kreator with Slayer-esque riffs and dominating pounding drums throughout from Daub. But unlike those bands, rather than glorify and hail Satan, Believer are the opposite, featuring themes of turning to Christ and celebrating Satan's demise as told in Revelation. Bachman's lead vocals are the traditional gravelly tones as found in Morbid Angel, Obituary and Sepultura and the guitar riffing of Bachman and Baddorf is breakneck speed all out thrash with very little lead work, though notably there are some catchy melodies in each track.

Sanity Obscure is the title track that begins with a strange musical box effect that seems broken and edited. It's a weird way to begin a thrash album. Then the brutal riff crunches in, broken and jagged, with a beat missing. Then it stops suddenly with a brief acoustic flourish - welcome to Believer! The double lead break is divine. The lyrics point to the themes and concepts of Biblical principles as is evident in the scripture references. All the lyrics are featured in the liner notes of the CD, backed by scriptures, and worthy of quoting here to get a feel for the type of themes Believer are relaying:

The birth pains have begun, These omens of sanity are obscured, Hidden from the insane minds, Though seeing they do not see, They hear but understanding can't find, This people's heart has become calloused, Their eyes they willfuly seal, Otherwise their eyes might see, And in turn become healed, Blurred visions, Sanity obscure, [Matthew 13:39; Mark 13; I Corinthians 2:7; Romans 16:25; Revelation]

Wisdom's Call has a beautiful acoustic intro that is almost customary for the 80s metal machine. Of course the distorted wall of sound soon breaks in and the band launch into a memorable riff that chugs along with a strange time signature that is unsettling to the ears. The mighty power riff is ever present and a hallmark of the band. At 3:05 the riff breaks again into an uneven complex metrical shift, with stops and starts and off beat sections before the double lead guitar squeal in.

Idols of Ignorance has a really low grumbling riff that builds in pace and then settles into a standard fare speed lick. One of the fastest you will hear, the track pummels the ears. Daub's drums are frenetic double kick throughout. At 2:25 one of the most infectious grooves locks in. So precise and technical. It reminds one of Tourniquet (surely as deserved a place on the progarchives as Believer) and Deliverance, but Believer do it with such conviction and relentless speed.

The rapid fire riffing continues on Stop The Madness that begins with a hearbeat and a voice of a subject snorting coke then the heartbeat flatlines. Message: don't do drugs. The riff spins wildly out of control at 3:15 at shattering speed where time sigs are off the scale 7/8 3/4 8/6 I can't keep up.

Their second album features perhaps Believer's best and most progressive track Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) featuring beautiful orchestral arrangements from Scott Laird, the progressive links are due moreover to his vision. This is the track that peaked my interest in particular and it is very memorable and engaging. The female operatic singing of Julianne Laird Hoge is gorgeous and sung in the foreign opera tongue:

Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna in die illa tremenda Quendo coeli movendi sunt et terra Dum veneris judicare saeculum per ignem (Deliver me, Lord from the eternal death On that dreadful day when heavens and earth Shall move, when you come to judge the world through fire) It is moving and features amazing violin and strings. It feels like some Therion or Nightwish in its operatic style but this was way ahead of its time before this type of fusion existed! The rest of the album is virtually full blown wall to wall thrash with blistering guitar licks that blaze at 100 miles an hour. It is not for the blessed meak and only the most open minded Christian need apply, but this music goes beyond the Christian fan as it has a lot to offer for any metal head who enjoys their thrash turned up to 11 and ultra-aggressive. Some of the tracks are positively brutal such as Idols of Ignorance with great lyrics:

Dreamers, enticed to turn away, Kneeling, to gods born from clay, Praying, to images carved to stone, Bowing, though sins are not atoned, Hearing, only silence through your cries, Seeing, nothing with lifeless eyes, Worthless, are the objects idolized, Blinded, men fall to their demise, Unholy, lovers of themselves, Money, the lust of which compels, Brutal, without self control, Defying, the Redeemer of their soul, I am the first and the last, Yahweh, Creator of ages past,

It all ends on the weird U2 cover version of Like a Song that is as out of place here as the last song on the previous album. It seems that Believer do not want us to take them too seriously, but this is a great cover version with some cool melodies and guitar motifs from a mainstream band hyped to the max with Believer's own inimitable style.

Overall, this is my favourite Believer album featuring some of their best work (Dies Irae (Day of Wrath)) and I recommend it to any one into the heavier more extreme technical metal with a progressive edge.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |


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