Band reunions are getting pretty goddamn tiresome, and I think that’s important to say though it’s been said already probably a handful of times on other publications. The timing has been great for quite a few of these bands, what with profitable tours, major (and not-so-major) label releases, and a stable of gnashing old school fans who’ve been groping themselves in anticipation for a lot of these returning artists. That’s what drives these reunions, anyway: old schoolers. They are a bitter, driving force behind getting kids to turn off that Job for a Cowboy and crank on something that only existed from about ’91 to ’94 (we’ll say Cynic for these purposes). Old schoolers have been desperately trying to take back the metal market and bring in some new old shit to replace the new new shit because the new new shit is actually shit. Hence, Suffocation, Obituary, Carcass, At the Gates, Pestilence, Cynic, and now Believer have all come back from certain oblivion to rock our cocks and cunts off.

Believer isĀ one of those bands that I imagine (already) older metal heads back in the day enjoyed from the get-go, but took some time to influence the youngsters of the time because of their Christian background. Looking back, Sanity Obscure and Dimensions were just as harsh sounding as a lot of death/thrash at the time, but the lyrics involving submission to God and the rejection of evil does err a bit from the death metal formula. Was they great? Not really. Dimensions was particularly good in comparison to their first two albums, but given their particularly iffy track record the first two times out, I’d be willing to bet consumers went for Morbid Angel’s Covenant or Cynic’s Focus instead of Believer’s new-and-improved sound. Anyways, it’s not surprising to me that a band like this was buried by the competition, but today’s new metal world is a bit more experimental and open to new ideas. And hey, if Believer’s Gabriel is a taste of things to come, then mazel tov!

There’s something immediately lovable about Gabriel in its spatial, calculated riffs layered on top of seemingly subliminal spoken words and the rumblings of the earth in opener “Medwton,” not to mention the wicked James Murphy-esque solo that rattles through about halfway through the song. What’s wondrous about Gabriel is its amalgamation of the old and the new; breakdowns are executed without the mentality that they alone can carry a song, and riffs are snappy and done in technical enough time signatures to keep purists from turning up their noses. Gabriel is a beast tempered by its regard for execution first, yet it implements digital keyboards and coarse, subtle vocals without compromising the integrity of a song.

That said, tracks like “Focused Lethality” strip off the shackles of keys and sampling for some good ol’ thrashing without sounding like an afterthought in the album’s production. “Stoned” carries an off-kilter piano that stomps harder than any of the other instruments in the song, and that’s saying an awful lot, considering the drums plod along like a bison stampede. Gabriel is nothing if not fascinating for its use of dichotomous elements. I’m thinking The Unspoken King without overwhelming suckage.

My only gripe comes from “the Brave,” featuring Killswitch Engage’s Howard Jones. Call me elitist, but Howard Jones sounds like shit, and guest duties on a great band’s record doesn’t help his standing with me. “The Brave” isn’t one of the better cuts on the album as it is, but Howard’s soulful delivery doesn’t contrast well with the verse riff. The bridge is great, but getting there is like trudging through razor wire.

Don’t let the whole Christian thing let you down. Believer might sing about Ham, Shem and Japtheth for all I know, but I still headbanged mercilessly to this record. Gabriel is a pleasant surprise, and Believer a welcome return to the metal fold.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kris Yancey
April 20th, 2009


  1. Commented by: Staylow

    Nice review. At first, I didn’t know where you were going with it, but the I almost completely agree with you. I actually really dig “The Brave”, and Howards contributions to the song, despite not caring much for his bands more recent output.

    If Obscura’s Cosmogenesis is this years finest technical death metal opus, then Gabriel is representing the technical thrash front. Truly one of the years best albums.

  2. Commented by: Staylow

    Oh, and I might add that I really like all of their output. Sanity Obscure in particular is fantastic.

  3. Commented by: Shawn Pelata

    Excellent record from an excellent band…cheers to Dr. Bachman and co.!!!

  4. Commented by: Joe

    One more reunion to come for the old-schoolers: SACRIFICE! Man I hope this new album picks up where Soldiers Of Misfortune was headed. Apocalypse Inside just didn’t seem like a proper send off for these thrashmasters.

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