MESSIAH PROPHET - MASTER OF THE METAL (*Used-Vinyl, Pure Metal Records)
Pristine Vinyl MOM90519
"Master of the Metal," circa 1986, sounds rather dated now, but was quite groundbreaking when it was released. It was one of the earliest Christian metal albums and among the better ones of its era. I bought this on cassette maybe in 1987 and was pleased to find it on CD a few years back. I still enjoy listening to it when I dig it out.
While the production quality is not particularly good, but the music is good 80's straight-ahead metal. The songs are well written, with lots of catchy hooks. The vocals are strong and there is some good guitar work throughout the album. Lyrically, the album is fairly bold. Memorably, the last song on the album, "Voice That's Calling", ends with an anthemic series of "Jesus, I will have no gods before You".
If you are into 80's metal, or particuarly if you are interested in Christian metal history, this is worth getting hold of.
1. "Hit and Run" (4:20)
2. "Master of the Metal" (5:01)
3. "For Whom Does the Bell Toll" (4:15)
4. "Fear No Evil" (6:53)
5. "Heavy Metal Thunder" (5:30)
6. "The Friend" (3:43)
7. "Battle Cry" (6:29)
8. "Voice That's Calling" (7:02)
ANGELIC WARLORD REVIEW
Messiah Prophet (previously known as Messiah Prophet Band) experienced a high degree of turnover following the release of its run-of-the-mill 1984 Morada Records debut Rock The Flock: Guitarist Rob Clark departed only to be replaced by rhythm guitarist/vocalist Brian Nicarry, while bassist Joe Shirk and drummer David Thunder supplanted Dean Pellen (bass) and Dave Daubert (drums) respectively. Returning in 1986 with its Pure Metal sophomore effort Master Of The Metal, Messiah Prophet moves primarily in a straightforward heavy metal direction with occasional tendencies towards melodic metal and commercial hard rock. The end result is a significant leap forward by the band musically in that each of the albums eight tracks are well constructed in holding up under noteworthy melodies and memorable chorus lines.
Clark continues to bring to his high quality classic tenor voice. Newcomer Nicarry, however, handles lead vocals on two tracks and proves an equal talent with a similar classic tenor vocal style. Strauss displays demonstrated improvement on lead guitar, proving to be quite the talented musician in bestowing a plethora of his fast paced and fluid soloing abilities. Nicarry helps round out the mix on rhythm guitar, while Shirk and Thunder combine to form a rhythm section defined by steady bass lines and a thunderous (no pun intended) drum sound.
The only factor detracting from Master Of The Metal is a slightly thin sounding production job. The bass deserves to be mixed more prominently, while the drums often sound flat and muffled. The rhythm guitar can lack the needed edge and crispness. Only the lead guitar stands out in the mix as it should.
Getting the album underway to several seconds of open air rhythm guitar, "Heavy Metal Thunder" advances at a determined mid-tempo pace until it reaches a chorus projecting just the right amount of ardent guitar driven energy. A fiery guitar solo holds sway over the extent of a thirty second instrumental passage.
After a choppy rhythm guitar propels "The Friend" through its first verse in up-tempo fashion, it gains further momentum as it obtains a chorus with a huge catchy hook. Strauss really shines with several seconds of fast paced hammer-on driven lead guitar work. "The Friend" is an acronym for Christ:
When you think you're at the end
And your life's just one big sin
Just reach out and grab a hand
And you know there is a Friend...
Nicarry handles lead vocals on the excellent metal power ballad "Battle Cry". An acoustic guitar slowly carries ?Battle Cry? through its first and second verse as vocal harmonies accentuate the emotional atmosphere, the rhythm guitar kicking in as the song picks up in pace for the third. Following several seconds of bluesy lead guitar work, "Battle Cry" increases in impetus prior to reaching a chorus of the impassioned variety. "Battle Cry" touches upon the issues of spiritual warfare and the battle scars we received as we go through the trials and tribulation of life:
Scared alone and hurt again
These are my battle scars
Cold and tired no rest in site
My heart feels the battle scars
My war is not with flesh and blood
Still I'm fighting for my life
Front lines all the time
Ain't no rest in sight
The seven minute epic "Voice That's Calling" moves the album back to a more mid-tempo paced heavy metal direction. Evenly propelled through its first verse in a steadfast manner by a driving guitar riff, the song culminates for a sweeping chorus delivering a powerful message:
There's a light shining out to the world
In the darkness by His we are hurled
Every knee will bend at the name of Jesus
And every demon bow...
Strauss once again flashed his brilliance with another display of blistering lead guitar work. I like how the song closes out its last several minutes as Clark continually wails away, "Jesus, Jesus I will have no gods before You." Great song.
Opening to a drum solo and a muscular bass line, "Hit And Run" launches into a fast paced riff accentuated by sirens. The song proceeds to move ahead with a ton of hard hitting energy until it culminates for an infectious chorus underlined by deep sounding vocal harmonies. Several seconds of fiery lead guitar work perfectly aligns itself with the songs upbeat momentum.
The mid-tempo hard rock of the albums title track commences to a heavy duty riff that fortifies its first verse with a ton of metal edged grace and class. Picking up in pace for its bridge, ?Master Of The Metal? evenly flows to a portent chorus giving rise to a deep and heavy ambiance. Pounding double bass supports just under a minute of the albums best lead guitar work. "Master Of The Metal" talks about exactly that:
Jesus said upon this Rock
My Church will stand
And for my Church
I'll come again
He's the Master
The Master of the metal
For Him I sing...
Christ, my Lord, my King
The haunting semi-ballad "For Whom Does The Bell Toll" begins, appropriately, to the sound of ringing bells before keyboards slowly carry its first verse as Nicarry sings lyrics taken from Psalm 23:
That though I walk through valleys
And shadows of death
I know You are near me
And I will fear no evil
After an acoustic guitar takes the song through its second verse, the rhythm guitar kicks in to drive a melodic based chorus also inspired by Psalm 23:
Yea though I walk
Through valleys of death
I will fear no evil
The song returns to an acoustic laced direction as it continues to draw upon Psalm 23:
Thou preparest a table
In the presence of my foes
He anointest my head with oil
My cup overflows
And goodness and mercy
Shall follow me
And I will dwell in the House Of God
"Fear No Evil" closes the album in good hard rocking fashion. Racing along at breakneck speed (no pun intended) during its first verse, the song picks up in pace as vocal harmonies enter the mix in time to reinforce a chorus carried at an energy-laden upbeat tempo. A bass guitar solo opens an instrumental passage culminating on over a minute of high-octane lead guitar work. The message to "Fear No Evil" ties into that of "For Whom Does The Bell Toll":
No - there's no more need to run
Fight - stand up for the Son
He - has given you the Sword
Fight - He's given you His Word
Fear no evil...
I cannot say enough good things about Master Of The Metal, a terrific work of art giving rise to consistent songwriting backed by first rate lead vocals and equally noteworthy musicianship. Only a muddy sounding production job holds back what otherwise is a top notch effort.
By 1989 the musicians performing on Master Of The Metal had departed leaving Charlie Clark as the bands lone member. Clark proceeded to reform the group with an all new line up in time to record the song "Blinded" for the Star Song compilation Ultimate Metal. At the time "Blinded" was recorded, however, Messiah Prophet was still under contract to Refuge, but when the label was unable to get the ball rolling for a follow up release, the band disbanded.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: ?Heavy Metal Thunder? (5:32), ?The Friend? (3:44), ?Battle Cry? (6:25), ?Voice That?s Calling? (7:00), ?Hit And Run? (4:17), ?Master Of The Metal? (4:59), ?For Whom Does The Bell Toll (Psalm 23) (4:10), ?Fear No Evil? (6:49)
Charlie Clark Lead Vocals
Andy Strauss Guitars
Brian Nicarry Guitars & Lead Vocals
Joe Shirk Bass
David Thunder Drums & Percussion
Bill Grabowski Guitars
Alexander Paul - Guitars