Deliverance - Deliverance ©1989 Intense
1. Victory
2. No Time
3. Deliverance
4. If You Will
5. The Call
6. No Love
7. Blood Of The Covenant
8. Jehovah Jireh
9. Temporary Insanity
10. Awake

The strange genre of Christian heavy metal is often dismissed as being subpar and unoriginal. This is a generalization, but generalizations only come into being because they are often true. This debut album from California's Deliverance certainly breaks the "subpar" barrier, though not quite reaching in to the realm of originality.

A criticism of Christian music in general is that it latches on to already established styles to try to ride the coattails of popular secular music. The verdict for Deliverance in 1989: guilty. The Bay Area thrash sound had been established for years at this point, with most of the leading bands signed to major label contracts. Despite actually being from southern California, Deliverance are heavily based on this style, particularly drawing influence from Testament and Metallica.

All this aside, Deliverance must be given credit for being one of the first Christian heavy metal band to actually BE heavy. Without question, this album rocks. Thrash fans pining for the sound of yesteryear will be in heaven (!) with songs like "No Time", "If You Will" and "The Call." The major flaw in the album is the cover of a hymn, "Jehovah Jireh." Trying to make a metal classic out of this tripe is like trying to make a gourmet meal out of Styrofoam peanuts.

Guitarist/singer/songwriter Jimmy Brown certainly understands the style and crafts blazing riffs and memorable songs in that format. His solos are straight from the 80's: speedy, showy and melodic. Lyrically, he writes in the form of parables and praise, with a few warnings of the ickiness of Hell thrown in. As for the rest of the band...they are perfectly acceptable. Don't get too attached to them, because they won't be around long.

Certainly this album added nothing new to the already established genre that it belongs to, though it is a worthy first attempt. This album is not needed for a serious metal collection, but any fans of Bay Area thrash are urged to seek out this forgotten gem.

Review by Scott Wilcox

Review date: 04/2003

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Weapons Of Our Warfare

Deliverance - Weapons Of Our Warfare ©1990 Frontline
1. Supplication
2. This Present Darkness
3. Weapons Of Our Warfare
4. Solitude
5. Flesh And Blood
6. Bought By Blood
7. 23
8. Slay The Wicked
9. Greetings Of Death
10. If We Faint Not

A scant year after their debut, California's Christian metallers Deliverance return with an album that is a major step forward in songwriting, skill, production, and professionalism. A large part of this can be attributed to new guitarist George Ochoa, who, in addition to his shredding skills, produced and co-wrote the album with mainman Jimmy Brown. This would be the first and last time that Brown would have a serious partnership in the band.

Remember those moody acoustic intros that everyone had in the late '80's to early '90's? Add Deliverance to the list. This leads in to "This Present Darkness", an abrupt thrasher that puts the audience on notice that this effort is going to be more polished, and in places more aggressive. The title track is a classic in the band's catalogue, featuring a catchy melody and the twin axe interplay of Brown and Ochoa that defined this period of Deliverance. "Flesh And Blood" strays in to epic territory with its 7:27 runtime, but is kept interesting by the fretwork. Of course every thrash album of this period needs a kinda-sorta ballad, and "23" is a decent effort, using the words of Psalm 23 with original music that uses the alternating "sensitive" and "rocking" mood that was standard at the time. The Ochoa-penned "Slay The Wicked" is another classic, a riff-tastic midpacer that lyrically straddles the line of brutality and piety. (You see, it is okay to slay, because they are wicked. Right?) Closer "If We Faint Not" finishes the album on another memorable note.

Lyrically this time around Deliverance goes for a battle theme. This involves declaring war on sin, darkness, demons, and the most evil thing of all, premarital sex. So yes, the lyrics can be dumb and unintentionally funny. But the music is great.

In summary, Deliverance are still worshippers of the Bay Area Thrash golden calf, and their lyrics are more a regurgitation of Sunday school lessons than thought out commentary. However this is the album of their thrash period, and anyone remotely interested in thrash should snap this up. Highly recommended.

Review by Scott Wilcox

Review date: 05/2003

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What A Joke

Deliverance - What A Joke ©1991 Intense
1. Intro
2. Prophet Of Idiocy
3. Pseudo Intellectual
4. Cheeseburger Maker Du
5. What A Joke
6. Chipped Beef
7. After Forever
8. It's The Beat
9. A Product Of Society
10. Happy Star
11. J.P.D.
12. Pray
13. Silent Night
14. J.I.G.
15. Purgatory Sandwich With Mustard
16. Attack

Just one year after their well executed (if derivative) Weapons Of Our Warfare, Christian thrashers Deliverance returned with the cluttered and confusing What A Joke. Armed with a brand new rhythm section, founder Jimmy Brown and co-writer George Ochoa manage to eke in some quality thrash metal amongst the detritus that clogs seventy percent of this album.

Deliverance continues down their Bay Area path on songs like "Prophet Of Idiocy", "Pseudo Intellectual", "Attack" and the title track, using both speed and midpaced groove to fine effect. Musically these tracks are a bit more aggressive than the last album but still continuing in that vein, also benefiting from the improved double-bassing of new drummer Kevin Lee. The main change is in the lyrics. Deliverance have gone from mostly positive songs of conversion to their faith to negative, bitter diatribes attacking non-believers as well as other Christians that they don't happen to agree with. It's hard not to laugh when someone angrily screams "I've got news for you, the Bible is historic literature" or attacks the validity of carbon dating, but when they call other Christians "ignorant fools", rail against "homos" and claim that God will "mock you when your terror comes" it sounds more like a hate group than ambassadors of a "loving" religion. Quick, where do I sign up?

Of the sixteen tracks, eight are jokey wastes of time that explore such topics as the recipe for chipped beef and cheeseburgers. There are two covers: a metalish version of "Silent Night" which is at best ill-advised, and a faithful (pun intended) stab at Sabbath's "After Forever". No matter how good the remaining six songs are, that's still a failing percentage.

To sum up, What A Joke is schizophrenic and unfocused, veering between stunning ignorance, hate speech, forced goofiness, and bitter rants. There are a few gems buried in the sludge, but I can't recommend dirtying your hands to dig them out. Stick with the first two.

Review by Scott Wilcox

Review date: 06/2003

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Stay Of Execution

Deliverance - Stay Of Execution ©1992 Intense
1. Stay Of Execution
2. Windows Of The Soul
3. Words To The...
4. From Once Was
5. Self-Monger
6. Horrendous Disc
7. Lord Of Dreams
8. Ramming Speed
9. Entombed
10. Weapons Of Our Warfare (Remix)

On their fourth release, Deliverance begin to leave behind their thrash roots and move in a darker, heavy groove direction. Of course cynics will note that most of the Bay Area bands who obviously served as the band's inspiration from the beginning had already done the same thing. Draw your own conclusions.

As expected, the lineup shifts again, with guitarist/co-writer/producer George Ochoa leaving (and never mentioned again) to be replaced by Mike Phillips. Was there a disagreement for such an important member to leave? Who knows; in Christian music these kinds of splits are usually ignored (see the numerous key members who left Tourniquet). Original bassist Brian Khairullah returns and is listed as the official bassist, though one album veteran Mike Grato performs most of the songs. It doesn't really matter in the end; by the next full length they would all be gone.

New producer/guru Terry Taylor (of influential Christian band Daniel Amos) provides a satisfying full sound with a stronger bass presence and the addition of keyboards which generally work well. Jimmy Brown's vocals continue to improve, completely leaving the thrash genre and impressing with his skill and level of expression. The new lyrical style is a welcome change from What A Joke. Brown has matured a lot, dealing with human failings and the struggle to do right in a dare I say "humanistic" way. Brown's new vocal and lyric approach give an air of melancholy that wasn't present in Deliverance before.

Song wise Stay Of Execution isn't as strong as it could be. Album opener "Stay Of Execution" starts strong but is hampered by a discordant chorus melody that misses avant-garde and lands dead center at irritating. The only real thrash tune "Entombed" suffers from the same problem. "Lord Of Dreams" tries to straddle the line between the past and present and comes up short on both counts. "Ramming Speed" starts out with a promising acoustic beginning but soon degenerates in to second rate Candlemass. All is not lost though, as "Windows Of The Soul", "Words To The..." and "From Once Was" all display what this album would have sounded like if everything had been on track. One of the biggest successes is "Horrendous Disc," a cover of a Daniel Amos song from 1977 that is reminiscent of Queen's brand of theatrical rock. The remix of "Weapons Of Our Warfare" removes the guitar from the first verse, but is otherwise minimally different. I'm not even sure what a re-visitation of the past is doing on this forward thinking album.

Many (including myself) were thrown on first release by the drastic change in style. In hindsight this change led to greater things for Deliverance and was a good move, but Stay Of Execution rests firmly in the "transition album" category. This is an interesting piece for fans to track Deliverance's musical journey, but it is not very satisfying on its own.

Review by Scott Wilcox

Review date: 07/2003

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Intense Live Series Vol. 1

Deliverance - Intense Live Series Vol. 1 ©1993 Intense
1. In Studio
2. Surrender
3. No Love
4. In Studio
5. This Present Darkness
6. In Studio
7. Stay Of Execution
8. In Studio
9. The Call
10. In Studio
11. No Time

In the midst of Deliverance's move away from the thrash genre comes this stop-gap piece which revisits some favorite moments from the past. Over the course of two days, producer Terry Taylor recorded the band (incredibly back with the same line-up as the previous album) performing six songs "live" in the studio. This concept isn't a bad idea, but I was put off by the fact that this isn't mentioned except on the inside of the liner notes (which you see only after you buy it.) I was expecting a true live album as the cover heavily suggests. It appears that misleading consumers isn't strictly a secular activity.

Once resigned to what this release actually is, it is an enjoyable piece of fluff. The tracks are all reportedly first or second takes and most do feel more organic than their studio predecessors. "Surrender" is a Stryper cover; I've never heard the original, but Deliverance seem to make it their own. "No Love", "No Time" and "The Call" are all from the debut, the latter being an exceptionally ripping version with an improvised shred solo by Mike Phillips. "This Present Darkness" is the only representative from the George Ochoa era, but since he is now persona non grata in the Deliverance camp this is hardly surprising. "Stay Of Execution" is far and away superior to the album version, sounding much heavier and with more appropriate vocals. The songs are linked by short tracks of false starts and studio chatter to give it the feel of one continuous performance.

Skipping the entire middle section of the band's history because of some falling out with the co-writer of those songs hurts the song choices, but other than that this is an enjoyable way to spend a half hour. With a new cover song and two superior re-recordings of old songs this an easy recommendation for Deliverance fans.

Review by Scott Wilcox

Review date: 09/2003

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