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Deliverance: Christian Thrash Metal Legends
The Christian thrash metal scene witnessed the end of an era on December 10, 2013 when the legendary Jimmy P. Brown and Deliverance released their first new studio album in six years, Hear What I Say! via 3 Frogz Records/Roxx Productions. While fans of the Christian speed metal pioneers were naturally thrilled to learn that "the big D" was returning from hiatus, they were also saddened by the news that Hear What I Say will be Deliverance's final release.
Deliverance's long and (mostly) proud history over the past quarter century has resulted in an extremely diverse, adventurous catalog of music that is - depending on which album you listen to - aggressive, epic, confrontational, experimental, and occasionally controversial. Ever since their humble beginnings as a straight up speed metal band in the mid '80s, Deliverance has frequently taken their loyal fan base on journeys into unexpected, uncharted territories depending on Brown's musical whims. As Deliverance approaches its 30th (!) anniversary as one of the Christian metal scene's standard bearers, the current lineup of Brown, longtime bass player Manny Morales, lead guitarist Michael Philips (also of The Sacrificed and Join the Dead) and legendary drummer Jayson Sherlock (Mortification, Horde) promises that Hear What I Say! will provide long time fans with a dose of good ol' fashioned "METAL IN YOUR FACE!"
Initially inspired by Stryper, who were just beginning to make waves in the hard-rock scene with their potent mix of Marshall amplification and Christian evangelism, Deliverance formed in Southern California in 1985. Brown and his band mates were fans of harder-edged fare such as Metallica, Anthrax and Queensryche, thus they chose to increase their musical intensity accordingly and introduced the sounds of Thrash Metal to the Christian rock community. The original lineup of Jimmy P. Brown II (vocals/guitar), Glenn Rogers (lead guitar), Brian Khairullah (bass) and Chris Hyde (drums) cut a six-track demo called Greetings of Death in '85 that reportedly sold upwards of 5,000 copies (!) thanks to good buzz in the underground tape trading scene and their rep as an intense, compelling live band. Deliverance's first appearance on vinyl came in the form of two tracks ("Attack" and "A Space Called You") on the seminal compilation album California Metal (Regency Records, 1987), which also featured such up-and-coming Christian hard rockers as Barren Cross, Guardian and Mastedon. Christian metal's "boom years" were about to begin, and Deliverance found themselves at the forefront of the wave.
Making a Splash...
Deliverance signed with the then-hot Christian metal label Intense Records and released their self titled debut album in 1989. Produced by thrash guru Bill Metoyer, who'd previously worked with such mosh-worthy bands as Sacred Reich, D.R.I. and Flotsam and Jetsam, Deliverance's crunching musical attack and positive message garnered rave reviews in both the Christian and secular metal press. Former Recon axeman George Ochoa took over Glenn Rogers' guitar position on the follow up, 1990's classic Weapons Of Our Warfare - an epic thrash platter that is widely considered to be the Master of Puppets of the Christian metal movement. A video for Weapons' title track got some play on MTV's "Headbanger's Ball" and legend has it that Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich himself gave the clip a thumbs-up. Weapons was Deliverance's high water mark, racking up over 100,000 in sales - an astounding number considering that the album was distributed mainly within Christian book and music store channels rather than "secular" record stores. Ochoa's Recon bandmate Mike Grato took over bass duties on 1991's What A Joke, an album that ruffled some feathers in Deliverance's conservative fan base due to the sarcastically humorous lyrics and some controversial song choices, like a metalized version of the Christmas standard "Silent Night" (?) and a cover of Black Sabbath's "After Forever."
Hoping to stretch their creative muscles and be seen as more than just the "Christian version of Metallica," 1992's Stay of Execution marked Deliverance's first major change in their musical direction, pulling back on the accelerator and adding progressive touches to their still-aggressive delivery. 1993's Learn, '94's River Disturbance and '95's Camelot In Smithereens were marked by near-constant lineup changes (aside from main man Brown) and continued the expansion of Deliverance's sonic palette, mixing influences from the Goth, alternative, electronic and industrial music scenes into the band's prog-flavored soup. When Intense Records closed up shop in 1995, Brown put Deliverance on hiatus, citing burnout with the meat-grinder mentality of the music industry.
"Weapons of Our Warfare" (1990)
Ya Can't Keep A Good Band Down...
Demand for new Deliverance music remained high even while Brown busied himself with other projects including the Goth-tronic Fearful Symmetry and the 70s rock inspired Jupiter VI. The band still kept its name out there by releasing several compilations of vintage early material like 2000's Back In The Day: The First Four Years and 2001's Greetings of Death, Etc. Eventually the pull of "The Big D" proved too strong to resist and Brown reformed the band at the dawn of the new millennium. The reunited "D" released a live album taped at their triumphant "comeback" Cornerstone Festival show in 2001 and followed it up with Assimilation the same year. Assimilation was a dark, experimental record that didn't sound much like the Deliverance of old, and once again the band faded from view until 2007, when Brown resurfaced with yet another new lineup and album. As Above So Below showed hints of the old thrash-metal fire tempered with nods to metal's 21st century sound and seemed to hint that the Deliverance sound was returning to its roots. All the while, Deliverance continued to influence musicians throughout the Christian rock scene, as evidenced by 2010's double-disc tribute album Temporary Insanity: A Tribute To Deliverance, which featured re-interpretations of the band's classic tracks by newer Christian headbangers like Grave Robber, Oil, Faith Factor, and Eternal Decision, as well as several newly recorded cuts by the "Big D" themselves. Brown soon started working on the material that would become Hear What I Say! (under the working title The Annals of Subterfuge) shortly afterwards.
"Should We Cross Paths" (2007)
Sneak Peek and Track Listing...
To tide Deliverance fans over prior to the album's release date, Roxx Productions offered a sneak peek of the new "D" material on the compilation disc Thrashmageddon Volume I, which featured a demo version of "The Annals of Subterfuge" off of Hear What I Say, as well as sixteen other mosh pit-inducing tracks from such Christian thrash stalwarts as Ultimatum ("Blood on a Thousand Hills"), Boarders ("IV Reich"), Temple of Blood ("Fearsome Warrior"), and the Moshketeers ("Internal Torment"). The demo version of "Annals..." will be exclusive to this compilation disc, which means that it is likely to become a collector's item in the very near future.
On November 10, 2013, Roxx Productions revealed the final track listing and the cover artwork for Hear What I Say. In addition to "Annals of Subterfuge," the album's ten songs will include a cover of the Iron Maiden classic "Where Eagles Dare," and the first Deliverance song in a foreign language, as the album track "Detox" will appear in both English and German versions.
"Hear What I Say!" Samples:
"Hear What I Say" Tracks:
1. Liber 111 (intro)
2. The Annals of Subterfuge
4. Hope Lies Beyond
8. A Perfect Sky
9. Where Eagles Dare (Iron Maiden)
10. Entgiftung (German language version of "Detox")
Summin' it up...
Deliverance has been around for so long and has dipped their collective toes into so many musical styles over the years that it was impossible to predict with any certainty what Hear What I Say! would sound like. The sneak peek of "Annals of Subterfuge," the band's "METAL IN YOUR FACE!" declaration and the involvement of Christian extreme-metal pioneer Sherlock led fans to expect a barn burning, no holds barred metal album. As a long time fan it will be sad to see Deliverance go, but it definitely appears that they are planning on going out with a major BANG. Bring it on, Jimmy, and thanks for all the years of music!
Greetings of Death (demo) - self released, 1985
Deliverance - Intense Records, 1989
Weapons Of Our Warfare - Intense, 1990
What A Joke - Intense, 1991
Stay of Execution - Intense, 1992
Learn - Intense, 1993
Intense Live Series Vol. 1 (EP) - Intense, 1993
A Decade of Deliverance - Intense, 1994
River Disturbance - Brainstorm, 1994
Camelot In Smithereens - Intense, 1995
Back In the Day: The First Four Years - Magdalene, 2000
Assimilation - Indie Dream, 2001
Greetings Of Death, Etc. - Magdalene, 2001
Live At Cornerstone 2001 - Magdalene, 2001
As Above, So Below - Retroactive, 2007
Hear What I Say! - 3 Frogz, 2013