Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Disciples Of God - Unleashed
   
Musical Style: Heavy Metal Produced By:
Record Label: Roxx Records Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 2017 Artist Website:
Tracks: 8 Rating: 80%
Running Time:

Disciples of God - Unleashed

Wiki defines a ‘super group’ as ‘a music group whose members are already successful as solo artists or as part of other groups or well known in other musical professions’.  Furthermore, ‘Super groups are sometimes formed as side projects and thus not intended to be permanent, while other times can become the primary project of the members' careers’.

Majority of the better-known super groups, as one might imagine, are exclusive to the mainstream hard music scene- at least those that have been active and achieved commercial success.  Damn Yankees is the first that comes to mind, with a star-studded roster in Ted Nugent (solo artist, The Amboy Dukes), Tommy Shaw (Styx), Jack Blades (Night Ranger) and Michael Cartellone (Lynyrd Skynyrd) recording a pair of well-received albums in the early nineties.  Chickenfoot also deserves consideration when factoring Sammy Hagar (Montrose, Van Halen), Joe Satriani (solo artist), Michael Anthony (Van Halen) and Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) appeared on its two highly regarded turn of the century albums.  Angelic Warlord readers, of course, are certain to be familiar with Sweet & Lynch, which as its namesake implies features vocalist Michael Sweet (Stryper) and guitarist George Lynch (Dokken) but also drummer Brian Tichy (Whitesnake) and bassist James Lomenzo (Megadeth).  

Options are somewhat as it pertains to the Christian hard music scene.  I might reference Magdallan in light of how Ken Tamplin (Joshua, Shout), Lanny Cordola (Giuffria, House Of Lords) and Ken Mary (Chastain, Alice Cooper & House Of Lords) comprised the line up that recorded its eclectic 1992 debut album Big Bang.  Menchen is another name worth mentioning with its debut release from 2008, Red Rock, featuring Bill Menchen (Titanic, The Seventh Power, Final Axe), Ken Redding (His Witness), Tony Franklin (Blue Murder) and Robert Sweet (Stryper).  That said, the super group designation applies loosely (if at all) as it pertains to Magdallan and Menchen in that both existed more as studio projects as opposed to full time bands in that neither performed live or recorded a second album using the same roster of musicians (either way).        

Which leads us to Disciples Of God (D.O.G.), one of the few true super groups to exist within Christian hard music circles.  D.O.G. certainly has things down from a line up standpoint from including lead vocalist Terry Russell (Holy Soldier, Neon Cross) and guitarists Larry Farkas (Vengeance Rising, Die Happy) and Don Webster (Neon Cross).  Terry’s son Colter Russell rounds things out on bass.  Lending further creditability to its status as a super group is how D.O.G. released in August of 2017 its Roxx Records debut full length Unleashed but that it also performed live at So Cal Metal Fest 2 the same month. 

Its status as a legitimate band notwithstanding, D.O.G. plays ‘Christian metal in the vein of Metallica (and) Motorhead’ (as taken from its press material).  The key word being Christian in that D.O.G. came together as ‘a true ministry based band out there playing anywhere and everywhere they can to spread God’s word through heavy metal (again, referencing the groups press material).  In terms of the Metallica and Motorhead side of things, I like to think of D.O.G. as bringing a straight up heavy metal sound bordering on old school thrash that while no doubt powerful and aggressive does not strain towards being repetitive either.  Much of this has to do with front man Terry Russell, whom skirts the abrasive ‘bark like a dog’ territory akin to many thrash vocalists in presenting with a grainy and earthy lower register style some have compared to James Hetfield of Metallica (and quite accurately, I might add).

Opening Unleashed cut “No One Rides For Free” represents everything that works well with D.O.G.  What we have is the albums most commercial piece, as catchy hooks of an immediate nature and enticing guitar riffs stand alongside an excitable mentality that shouts play me on the radio despite the driving mentality at hand.  If I were to suggest this is the best Unleashed cut, it reflects more on the melodic brilliance that is “No One Rides For Free” as opposed to any shortcomings to its remaining material, which takes an overall more aggressive and less accessible stance.

Hence, the no-nonsense heavy metal meets thrash based sounds to ensuing cut “Seeking Your Face”, which plays up a heavier mid-paced focus and rumbling rhythm section in which Terry Russell stands out with his assertive timekeeping abilities (one thing the album proves is that in no way is he a one dimensional eighties melodic metal drummer).  Refrain just plain dominates as it repeats the songs title - ‘seeking your face!’- in commanding fashion.

“Pay The Piper” picks things up in a more up-tempo direction.  The song comes across as a spirited mauler, as D.O.G. puts its all out energy on full display in yielding galloping riffs galore its distance and a splintering refrain that proves dogged but not overbearing at the same time.  In the end, “Pay The Piper” joins “Seeking Your Face” as two of the better examples of the signature Metallica cross Motorhead D.O.G. sound.

Speaking of which, “Into Thin Air” is another brazen track that while not quite reaching the same mercurial heights sets itself apart with the darker and more ominous sound.  Rhythm guitars align with the stauncher feel to the music at hand as does Terry Russell with his perfectly placed granular vocal abilities.  Best part to the song is how at the halfway point it breaks down for a slower passage that hints of the doom-like only to recapture its previous marauding form.

“Aliens And Strangers” represents my second favorite cut behind “No One Rides For Free”.  What I find to stand out about the song is its variances, including its opening instrumental moments and verses that set quite the heightened tone but also encompassing a plodding (and contrasting) chorus that also approaches things from the doom-like.  Instrumentally, “Aliens And Strangers” finds Farkus cutting loose with a stretch of biting lead guitar.

“Armageddon” delivers a ton of straightforward heavy metal groove.  With an abundance of up-tempo initiative leading the way, the song powers its span in setting another incenses tone (guitars are of a battering nature) but again switches gears instrumentally as it slows to a near standstill to lumbering guitars (as narration from Revelation 1:8 decorates the backdrop).  I cannot imagine the overriding energy this one might convey if performed live.

D.O.G. throws a curveball with the power metal influenced sounds to “Life Or Death”.  At least that is what I am hearing, in terms of the intricate drum flavorings and technical riff emphasis that drives the song its swift three-minute distance.  Am I out of line to suggest somewhat of a comparison to the classic Sacred Warrior track “Children Of Light” (off Rebellion)?  I am certain that is not something the group intended but it is also this reviewer’s impression all the same.

“Hey You” is albums only cut to potentially lose me and fall under the filler heading.  Perhaps it is due to a slight repetitious rearing its ugly head - chorus borders on the forced side of things - or Terry Russell reaching down and lending some heavy-handed thrash based angst to his delivery, which is not my cup of tea (either way).  Despite Farkus unleashing another killer guitar solo, I tend to pass, although I can see those whose tastes strain more towards the thrash side of things embracing it.

Production is raw and in your face as the music itself.  Drums, of note, receive a prominent mix (as they should) as do guitars, which deliver ample amounts of edge and bite.  Ultimately, production succeeds from walking a fine line between adding too much polish (and taking away from the group’s inherent energy) and that which comes across thin and muddy (and potentially ruins the listening experience).

If interested in a solid metal and thrash hybrid album then the D.O.G. debut Unleashed will not disappoint.  Quality to Unleashed traces to the trio of veteran musicians that perform on it, with Terry Russell, Larry Farkas and Don Webster turning D.O.G. into a true super group with their choice songwriting and seasoned musicianship.  My inclining is that there is more than enough straight on metal to garner my interest but not so much thrash influences as to turn me away, noting I am not a natural connoisseur of all things thrash.  Lone complaint is that I wish the group had come up with a couple more songs in that in featuring just eight (with seven of them VERY good in my opinion) Unleashed is on the abbreviated side of things.  Still, the album proves a strong debut that hints of even better things to come from D.O.G.   

I would like to close the review by offering my thoughts on the ultimate Christian metal super group- if it were possible to recruit a band from the better available musicians in similar fashion as how the various Olympic basketball ‘dream teams’ are put together:

Lead Vocals - Rob Rock (Impellitteri)
Choosing the ‘voice of melodic metal’ as front man is a no brainer.

Lead Guitars - Carl Johan Grimmark (Narnia) & Rex Carroll (Whitecross)
Not only do we get a pair of world-class soloists but also two highly capable songwriters, with Grimmark bringing a power/progressive metal perspective and Carroll an eighties melodic metal slant.

Bass - Jim LaVerde (Barren Cross)
Nuff’ said

Drums - Robert Sweet (Stryper)
I turn the ‘visual timekeeper’ loose and give him liberty to assert his full creative abilities in the same manner as he does on the various Bill Menchen projects in which he has participated, including the as noted Menchen but also The Seventh Power, Titanic and Final Axe.

Sixth Man - Matt Smith (Theocracy)
Theocracy front man would ‘come off the bench’ to play a multi-dimensional role, including producer, back up vocalist, keyboardist and co-songwriter (the inherent sense of Melody Smith brings to the table would prove intrinsic to any success said group might achieve and help lighten the songwriting burden on Grimmark and Carroll).

Review by Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “No One Rides For Free” (3:34), “Seeking Your Face” (3:49), “Pay The Piper” (3:33), “Into Thin Air” (4:08), “Aliens And Strangers” (3:39), “Armageddon” (3:59), “Life Or Death” (2:50), “Hey You” (3:11)

Musicians
Terry Russell - Lead Vocals & Drums
Larry Farkas - Guitars
Don Webster - Guitars
Colton Russell - Bass

 

Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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