|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By: Daniel Band|
|Record Label: Retroactive||Country Of Origin: Canada|
|Year Released: 1986/2012||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 75%|
|Running Time: 40:54|
Hard rock and Canada go together like sunshine and sand. Doubters need consider the regions musical history, which starts with Rush, the influential power trio that has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide in a six decade spanning career. Triumph, another power trio with multiple gold and platinum albums, and April Wine, also achieving platinum success, deserve mention as does Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush, best known for the multi-talented front man and guitarist after which it is named.
Toronto’s Daniel Band is the first group within the Christian hard rock scene to come to mind. No, will you not find a platinum (or gold) tradition here, but what sets Daniel Band apart is the consistency and work ethic to release five albums over a seven year span. Starting with its polished 1982 debut On Rock, Daniel Band followed up a year later with the heavier sounds of Straight Ahead before moving on to its career defining 1984 release Run From The Darkness (in which it combined the best aspects of the first two recordings). Rise Up, representing a return to a heavier form not unlike Straight Ahead , was initially a 1986 release but was re-mastered and re-issued on Retroactive Records in 2012 with a cover of the Darrell Mansfield classic “That’s Alright” as a bonus track.
When inviting comparison, Daniel Band’s Canadian colleagues, obviously, are the first mentioned. Rush is often named but not accurately in that Daniel Band, with a new notable exceptions such as “Never Again” off On Rock, fails to bring the progressiveness of the renowned power trio. Triumph and April Wine are actually the most deserving in that Daniel Band features a vocalist in Dan McCabe with a clean and pure high end style reminiscent to that of Myles Goodwyn (April Wine) and Rik Emmett (Triumph).
Musically, Daniel Band wears its Canadian hard rock influences on its sleeves in no uncertain terms. Nowhere is this better evident than on Rise Up, perhaps the group’s most consistently heavy album front to back. Opener “Bethel” is sledgehammer-like with its raucous qualities while “Rock You”, as aptly entitled track as you will find, delivers walls of crunchy mid-paced guitars. “Don’t You Walk Away”, with its intricate riff emphasis, and “Fight Back”, introducing some highlighting keyboards, maintain the guitar driven focus.
When Daniel Band lightens the mood with a well conceived ballad in “Paradise” and “My Children”, it does so in class while still staying true to the albums heavier rocking proclivities. “Rise Up” and “Right Heart” even introduced some commercial hard rock elements, which prove a foreshadowing of the direction Daniel Band would take on its fifth and final full length album from 1988, Running Out Of Time.
The “That’s Alright” cover works to perfection in that Daniel Band approaches things from a blues heavy rock standpoint, a side to the group we have not always seen in the past.
The only track in which I struggle is “Call His Name”, three and a half minutes of overbearing repetition as you will find. It does not help that McCabe sings in a lower register by adding some heavy doses of grit and angst to his delivery. He does the same on “Bethel” but pulls it off as a result of the music being that much of a higher quality.
McCabe’s lower key vocals almost bring to mind those of guitarist Tony Rossi, who traditionally fronts one or two songs each album and usually those heading in a heavier direction such as “Two Roads” (from On Rock) and “Walk On The Water” (Run From The Darkness). With Rise Up it is “Don’t You Walk Away” and “Fight Back”. He does fine on the former, although the latter with its more melodic based leanings might have worked better with McCabe’s smoother style.
Performance wise Daniel Band remains in fine form. It starts with Rossi’s lead guitar work - his true strength - which runs the gamut of fiery and blistering (see “Rock You” and “Bethel”) to that reflecting a more emotional touch (the two ballads). Matt Delduca, another underrated performer, is also at the top of his game with his heavy footed drumming. Place him side by side with any timekeeper from his ere and he more than holds his own.
Production, heading in the rawer and edgier direction, aligns with the heavier nature of the music at hand. Unable to comment on mastering since I do not own the Rise Up/Running Out Of Time 2-for-1 Retroactive re-issue from 2003 and no longer have a working turntable for the vinyl version I purchased back in the day. Still, mastering technician J Powell has a reputation for quality, which is reflected in the all around clean and crisp sound here.
Rise Up might not represent Daniel Band’s best effort, but it holds up with plenty of classic tracks in addition to the talented duo of McCabe and Rossi, who always work best when together as opposed to apart (reflected in the side projects of the two outside Daniel Band, which while far from bad are not quite on the same level). Also credit Retroactive for not only making Rise Up available again but also for its ability to put out a professional product in terms of mastering and packaging.
Track By Track
“Bethel” proves a three minute energy explosion. The songs full throttle momentum, driven by heavy hitting guitars and relentless as it gets chorus, allows it to rank with Daniel Band’s heaviest and fastest. The lower-key vocal approach only adds to the angst laden scene.
The albums title track introduces some hints of the commercial. The songs up-tempo aura proves infectious, as does the big pumping bass line (during its decisive verses) and polished vocal harmonies (upholding what amounts an anthem-like chorus). Play this one loud! “Rise Up” is a song of inspiration:
You may be crying
You may be trying to reason why
But there’s an answer
It’s in the ransom of Him who died
He stands before us
And will restore us in His time
So stop your hiding
And start abiding in the Vine
“Don’t You Walk Away” rates with the albums best. What we have here is a technical driven song, carried by complex riffs in abundance - catchy but forthright at the same time - and a raw edged feel that has classic old school metal written all over it. I would love to hear Rob Rock or The Sacrificed cover this.
“Paradise” proves a well executed hard rock ballad. The song follows the expected formula, starting calmly in keyboard driven fashion before the rhythm guitar kicks in fixed and firm. Things take a heavier stance the rest of the way in highlighting some bluesy driven riffs and lead guitar on the poignant side of things. “Paradise” represents a cry for a lost soul:
Oh the sun sets and the night falls
The time has come to move away
For we can’t remain forever, not forever
Sin has got its price to pay
Are you sure that you will be there, will you be there
When the road you’re on is near an end
And the soul of you is required, so I’ll inquire
Will you be where time has no end?
“Fight Back” represents another top of the line track. With highlighting keyboards and pounding drums leading the way, the song hits hard (you will find more assertive riff action here) but does not back down from the commercial proclivity (scintillating chorus certain to stay with you for some time). Again, the quality is such a cover is warranted.
“Call His Name” comes across overbearing. Despite repeat listen I have failed to grow into this one, with the main reason being it is heavy handed to the extent any notable melody ends up factored out of the equation. Perhaps things might have worked better if McCabe had sung in his traditional high end style. Lyrics are simple and straightforward as the music:
Heaven is calling
And hell’s not a game
But you’re only stalling
So call Jesus’ name
We’ll time catches all men
We’re all born to die
But there’s only one question
When will you reply?
“Rock You” does exactly that. The song stays true to its namesake with its mid-paced leanings and driving guitar rhythms, delivering a heavy hitting blow but still holding up as a result of a well executed melody coming to the forefront in the process. Some blistering leads from Rossi top things off.
“My Children” is my favorite of the two ballads. The song finds piano playing a leading role, melding with some fitting keyboards its first minute and a half until an emotional rhythm guitar punches in. The heartfelt setting is maintained in moving forward, as periodic quieter moments are mixed in along with a heart rendering chorus and straightforward salvation message:
Jesus is the Son of God
In this I won’t deny
For God so loved the world
He sent His Son to die
He hung on the cross for His children
To set us free from sin
He gave us life eternal
Just ask the Saviour in
“Right Heart” closes Rise Up in melodic hard rock fashion. The song puts in place an uplifting feel, standing out with an almost pop flavored chorus (something I say in a positive sense) but also failing to back away from the albums guitar based penchant- to the extent heavy and melodic might be the best way to describe things. “Right Heart” is a song of faith:
I don’t know You like I thought I did
I’ve ignored You by the way I’ve lived
I don’t know You
Like I thought I did
We’ll I know, Lord, You’re the only One
I can trust Your love won’t let me down
So help me know You
Like I thought I did
On “That’s Alright” Daniel Band trends towards blues heavy rock. Rossi is right at home with his gritty licks and chops, delivering just the right amount of edgy rhythm guitar but also proving he has not lost his soloing touch either. McCabe helps smooth things by adding some heart and soul to his even vocal delivery.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Bethel” (3:05), “Rise Up” (3:50), “Don’t Walk Away” (3:50), “Paradise” (4:06), “Fight Back” (4:35), “Call His Name” (3:36), “Rock You” (4:08), “My Children” (5:32), “Right Heart” (3:50), “That’s Alright” (4:18)
Dan McCabe - Lead Vocals, Bass & Keyboards
Toni Rossi - Guitars & Lead Vocals
Bill Findlay - Guitars & Synthesizers
Matt Delduca - Drums