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Emerald - Armed for Battle (Reissue)

Armed for Battle (Reissue)
by Mike "Bitchin" Bourgeois at 29 January 2019, 11:53 AM

In the beginning there was rock, and Lemmy said it was good. When the Christian soldiers heard of it, they first battled to destroy it, and then like most Christmas traditions they adopted it to use for their own. My first experience with "Faith" metal was in '82 when I was brought to a concert by a band called "The Rez Band" who basically took AC/DC music and changed the lyrics to biblically inspired words. Not. Impressed. At. All! Maybe my opinion of the genre wouldn't be so jaded had I heard Emerald first.

Disclaimer: I am not in any way a religious or spiritual type of person. In fact, it turns me off in so many ways I almost wanted to send this back and say sorry, no go, but damn, they are good composers and talented musicians. That was evident from the opening scream eminating from vocalists Larry Phillips throat on "Armed for Battle" and the guitar of Dave Enos had that classic 80's crunch I love so much. The song goes on into a more thought out structure that most bands struggle to come up with and seem to do it with ease. The bass, whether it was Joe Palma or Roger Martin, was in the pocket and a great bridge between the front end and Kyle Morrett's amazing drum work.

The album goes on like this, but because this is a reissue, I'd like to stray from our usual format and comment on the recording as a whole and its place in the metal family. This is a talented band who if they had dropped the faith in the beginning might have made it further. The music as it stands is complex and nuanced, with smooth transitions and dynamic cord structures that give Larry an opportunity to let loose on some amazing vocals, but lyrically I have some issues about them and the effect they have on Metal as a whole.

For most of us Metalheads religious themes in metal is nothing new, mostly used as metaphorical analogies or as a tool to advance a story. So called "Satanists" such as KING DIAMOND are more for shock value and should be taken with a grain of salt, (haha, religious practice to ward off Satan) but i the 80's the true forces of evil tried to kill metal because they thought it was corrupting youth. To make things worse, so called Christian bands were "falling from grace" (STRYPER anyone?) giving fuel to an already crazed evangelical group trying to literally outlaw heavy metal. (PMRC hearings, Phyllis Shaffly, look them up. Evil.) What bands like Emerald did was bring in and expose poor kids who had been robbed of their ability to think critically to ideas they couldn't comprehend from a secular viewpoint and were terrified at what was being written. When EMERALD and other bands rallied against the main stream bands, the theologists used them to bolster their arguments in their battle. Fortunately, we had people like Dee Snyder and Frank Zappa on our side so the battle ended with the album selling Parental Advisory stickers.

EMERALD’s "Armed for Battle" is a good verging on great recording, but it's place in metal history and others in this genre should be a point of discussion to avoid the witch hunt that took place at that time.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

1. Armed for Battle
2. Judgement Day
3. Teenage Suicide
4. Winds of Doom
5. We Attack
6. Traitor (Bonus track)
7. Look to the Stars
8. Vengeance is Mine (Bonus Track)
9. King of the Universe
10. Battle Ground
Larry Phillips – Vocals
Dave Enos – Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
Kyle Morrett – Drums, Keyboards
Joe Palma - Bass
Roger Martin - Bass
Record Label: No Remorse Records


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