|Musical Style: Power Metal||Produced By: George Ochoa|
|Record Label: Intense||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 1990||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 11||Rating: 90%|
|Running Time: 48:02|
The late eighties happened to be an era in which the Christian metal scene grew in leaps and bounds. Labels such as Pure Metal, Intense, Regency and R.E.X. released albums by Angelica, Bloodgood, Bride, Deliverance, Neon Cross, Rage Of Angels, Sacred Warrior, Saint and Whitecross- bands which proved foundational in the burgeoning “white metal” movement at the time. Southern California based Recon also deserves mention. Made up of members from De Roque, Prophet and Seventh Thunder, three defunct area Christian metal bands, Recon came together in the late eighties before placing two tracks – “Light The Fire” and “Dreams” – on the California Metal II compilation in 1990 and recording a five song cassette only demo the same year. The bands full length debut Behind Enemy Lines, also a 1990 release, moved in a classic power metal direction comparing favorably to contemporaries Fates Warning, Queensryche, Loudness and Sacred Warrior in addition to more recent acts Jacobs Dream (David Taylor era), Faith Factor and The Sacrificed.
The power metal tendencies of Recon can best be found on the sublime “Lost Soldier”, Fates Warning influenced “Ancient Of Days”, up-tempo “Alive” and “Eternal Destiny” (an intricate track giving rise to a slight progressiveness). The band, on the other hand, exhibits the more melodic aspect to its songwriting skills on “Choose This Day” (great chorus hook here) and commercial metal of “Take Us Away”, while “Holy Is The Lord” – a song coming across in the form of a metal worship anthem – gives rise to a striking Queensryche resemblance. Recon even delivers some thrash elements on the albums driving title track, a fast paced number in which Deliverance frontman Jimmy Brown receives a songwriting credit.
The high pitched lead vocal style of Vett Roberts cannot help but bring to mind Geoff Tate (Queensryche), former Fates Warning vocalist John Arch and Ray Para and Ski of Sacred Warrior and Faith Factor respectively- and helping lend to Recons’ comparison to the previously referenced vocalist’s bands in question in the process. Founding member guitarist George Ochoa makes his mark as well, letting loose with some aggressive leads on “Lost Soldier” while showcasing a more fluid side to his playing on “Alive” and “Eternal Destiny”. Rhythm guitarist Eddie Starline rounds out the bands line up with drummer John Christianson and bassist Mike Grato (Deliverance).
The albums production, coming across crisp and clean, serves to bring out the best in the bands high energy sound.
An interesting story revolves around the meaning behind Recon’s name. Short for reconnaissance, Recon literally implies going “behind enemy lines” and, in the words of Ochoa, “into the devil’s territory… (into) enemy turf (and) the clubs. We go there and proclaim the light of Jesus Christ… We are the soldiers and the Lord wins the battles.” Recon also has dual meaning in that it coincides with the Biblical doctrine of reconciliation.
The pouring rain and keyboards introducing “In The Beginning” soon intertwine with narration from John 1:1. An acoustic guitar closes out the songs final thirty seconds.
The three songs that follow - “Lost Soldier”, “Ancient Of Days” and “Choose This Day” – represent fifteen of the best minutes of metal this reviewer has heard.
Sweeping keyboards carry the Sacred Warrior-like metal of “Lost Soldier” through its first minute. The acoustic guitar that ensues gives way to an energetic guitar riff, up-tempo initiative maintained as the way is paved for a lofty chorus underlined by a trace of vocal harmonies. Ochoa puts his talent on display with a riveting stretch of lead work. Spiritual warfare is the subject matter here:
Take hold of the Sword
The Word of life
The armor of God to prepare you for the fight
Take time to pray
Come back to stay
“Ancient Of Days”, a powerful track that would not sound out of place on either of Jacobs Dream’s first two albums, slows the pace down a bit but proves every bit as laudable. A bottom heavy melding of guitar and drums gets the song underway, momentum tapering off before a fathomless environs is put in place for a chorus giving rise to an abundance of driving feel. A blend of tight sounding guitar harmony and biting lead guitar sustains a lengthy instrumental section. “Ancient Of Days” talks about the end times:
I am He who lives and was dead
Behold I live forevermore
Mighty nations rise to conquer and rule the world
When He returns
The Godless will die
God’s kingdom reigns forever
It shall never fall
“Choose This Day” opens to a quietly played guitar line as Vett Roberts harmonizes in the background. The refined ambience continues until a driving rhythm guitar backed by robust backing vocals takes over with just the right amount of edge. Upholding the assailing scene, “Choose This Day” moves on to a lush chorus challenging its listeners to make the correct eternal decision:
It’s your decision
Choose this day whom you will serve
Come and confess Him
The only Way
Ask Him in today
I enjoy how gentle but metal-like guitar harmony closes out the songs final minute and a half.
The majestic rhythm guitar propelling the melodic based “Dreams” over its first minute transitions to a quieter and more tranquil scene. As initiative builds, the rhythm guitar returns to its place of prominence and propels things to a chorus sustained by a forward mix of choir-like vocal harmonies. Emotionally played lead guitar helps take “Dreams” through an extensive instrumental section. While without a doubt a very fine number, I cannot help but think “Dreams” would have improved if the backing vocals in its chorus had been backed off just a touch.
“Take Us Away” moves forward from the start to an even blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards. Evening out upon reaching its first verse, the song smoothly flows ahead until a shouted voice steps forward to reinforce a chorus delivered in determined fashion. Several seconds of open air rhythm guitar opens an instrumental section featuring a run of flashy lead guitar. The aptly entitled “Take Us Away” reflects upon the second coming:
Like you said one day
In a blink of an eye
Trumpets will sound
Dead in Christ will arise
You will come back for Your bride
Take us away like a thief in the night
Several top notch metal worship anthems have been composed over the years – Barren Cross’ “King Of Kings” and “Great I Am” by Letter 7 immediately come to mind – but “Holy Is The Lord” is as good as it gets. The song begins acoustically before militant style drums stand in support of its first verse. “Holy Is The Lord” proceeds to pick up in pace for the second, the rhythm guitar taking over in time to bring out the best in the emotionally charged chorus that follows. Again, what we have in “Holy Is The Lord” is a worshipful track done metal style:
Righteousness and mercy
Judgement and Grace
Faithfulness and Sovereignty
Holy is the Lord…
Introduced to several seconds of open air rhythm guitar, “Alive” forcefully plows its way ahead as airy keyboards decorate the background. Briefly pausing, the song moves on to a brief but up-tempo chorus enriched by more of the bands trademark backing vocals. Just past its halfway point, “Alive” tapers off for a serene passage buttressed by a quietly played guitar:
Like a dream I feel so free
I love the Lord in me
By my faith my love grows strong
O’h He’s so mighty
His Kingdom is at hand
Believe and be saved
By His love we must stand
Ochoa follows with an adeptly played run of lead guitar (some of the albums best).
An almost doom-like setting is put into place as “Eternal Destiny” commences to a blend of plodding rhythm guitar and ringing bells. The song, however, picks up in pace upon obtaining its first verse, sprinting forward in a high-octane manner on its way to an ominous chorus that comes across in the form of a warning:
This is your warning
The choice that you will make will destine eternity
Take heed this warning
Jesus is King
Satan has lost
Can’t you see
Following a passage carried by narration from Revelation 20: 11-15, “Eternal Destiny” makes a time change to an instrumental section carried by a sharp sounding guitar solo.
“Behind Enemy Lines”, a piece in which Deliverance frontman Jimmy Brown receives a songwriting credit, takes off to a hard hitting guitar riff underscored by pounding drums. Charging through its verse portions to a fury of speed metal-like impetus, the albums title track evens out for a fleeting chorus in which a predominate atmosphere is put into place. Fast paced and aggressive, you cannot help but notice the Deliverance influence throughout this one.
Closing the album out is a hidden bonus track made up of keyboards and narration from John 1:14.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “In The Beginning” (1:33), “Lost Soldier” ( 4:53), “Ancient Of Days” (5:36), “Choose This Day” (5:42), “Dreams” (5:12), “Take Us Away” (3:44), “Holy Is The Lord” (6:03), “Alive!” (4:09), “Eternal Destiny” (5:43), “Behind Enemy Lines” (4:17), “The Ending” (:56)
Vett Roberts – Lead Vocals
George Ochoa – Guitars
Eddie Starline – Guitars
Mike Grato – Bass
John Christianson – Drums
Also Reviewed: Deliverance – Weapons Of Our Warfare
Martinez, Roger. “Going Behind Enemy Lines.” White Throne 5 (1989): 10-11.
Martinez, Roger. “LA Report.” White Throne 4 (1988): 6-7 & 42.
“Recon.” Heaven’s Metal 26 (1990): 14-15.