|Musical Style: Classic Metal||Produced By: Bradley S. Hamilton|
|Record Label: Retroactive||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 1986/2011||Artist Website: Saint|
|Tracks: 9||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 37:21|
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration says hearing damage occurs at noise levels of 85 or higher decibels. The editorial staff at Angelic Warlord has no reason to question this wisdom after a few days spent listening to the newly re-mastered and re-issued version of Salem, Oregon based Saint’s sophomore album Time’s End.
Originally released in 1986 on Pure Metal Records, Time’s End was re-issued on M8 Records in 2002 with 9 live bonus tracks from Saint’s performance at Cornerstone 1986 and a second time in 2003 as part of the 2 CD set entitled Saint Collection: 1984-1999. A third re-issue from 2011 on Retroactive Records was re-mastered and packaged in a 6 panel digipak with liner notes from bassist Richard Lynch.
Saint can best be described as traditional and classic heavy metal with occasional speed and thrash metal overtones. Like your guitars crunchy and upfront? Fancy a pummeling rhythm section? Have a soft spot for powerful and driving vocals? Partial to metal that is loud (as in 85 decibels or higher)? Then you will most certainly find a home in Saint.
On Time’s End, Saint presents with several significant upgrades in comparison to its 1984 debut EP Warriors Of The Son. Specifically, the group makes the same steps and strides - in terms of songwriting and production - made by contempoaries Messiah Prophet (from Rock The Flock to Master Of The Metal), Barren Cross (from Rock For The King to Atomic Arena) and Bride (from Show No Mercy to Live To Die).
While I have always liked Warriors Of The Son and felt it was a solid release, Time’s End takes things to the next level songwriting wise. Consider the catchy hooks characteristic of “Island Prisoner” and “Primed And Ready” in addition to the melodic based qualities to “Through You”. A more technical and heavier direction is taken on “In The Night” and “Time’s End” (the two find vocalist Josh Kramer shining with his Halford-like vocal presence) while the massive “Destroyers” and thrash influenced “Steel Killer” slow the pace exponentially. Those previously referenced speed metal elements make their presence felt on “Space Cruiser” (guitarist John Mahan puts on a clinic in terms of both his rhythm and lead guitar abilities) and non-stop barn burner that is “Phantom Of The Galaxy”.
At this point the following question begs answer: Does Time’s End feature the best group of songs ever from Saint? It certainly is a close call in comparison to the follow up effort Too Late For Living (where Too Late For Living surpasses Time’s End is in the area of production- so it might be more accurate to describe it as the overall better album). Several of Saint’s turn of the century comeback albums rate highly as well, particularly the vastly underrated The Mark/The Revelation and stunning Hell Blade. Either way, Time’s End more than holds its own musically irregardless of era in Saint’s history, but I will let you decide which album is ultimately the better…
In terms of production, I have never heard the original Pure Metal version so cannot comment from that standpoint. I do, however, own the 2008 M8 re-issue and find the mastering of such low quality as to render the album next to unlistenable; the 2003 Saint Collection is an improvement but rarely (if ever) listen to its version.
The Retroactive re-issue puts Time’s End in a completely different league. The improved re-mastering (courtesy of J Powell at Steinhaus) serves to prove my point that the problem with Time’s End was never production (which is fine) but rather the mastering. And with proper mastering, the Time’s End material is finally able to stand out in the high quality manner that it should, which makes the Retroactive re-issue a MUST purchase- even if you already own any of the previous three Time’s End versions.
Track By Track
“In The Night” stands out with its high intensity riff action. Driven, forceful and with a technical milieu, the song kicks up a furious storms its length with harshly done backing vocals upholding its chorus and Kramer cutting loose with several trademark screams. An understated melody proves the glue that holds everything together.
“Island Prisoner” gives rise to the darker and more resounding feel. The song proves up-tempo all the way, guaranteed to draw you in with its immediately catchy chorus (who knows what might have happened if it had been given the opportunity on FM radio) and Lynch’s melodic bass lines. Mahan adds a nasty stretch of lead guitar to a number dealing with the Apostle John, who wrote the book of Revelation while banished to the Island of Patmos in the Mediterranean:
You're no visitor
Visions you've witness unveiled in a book
Why are they all coming true
Things that you're saying come from within
No man can take it away
Few will believe you the message you learned
Your going into exile today
Not in your wildest dreams
Could you ever imagined the revelation you have seen
A warning for mankind to see
Will they ever awaken to the devastation that will be
“Space Cruiser” proves masterful with its time and tempo changes. The song gets underway at a relentless tempo - almost approaching speed metal territory - as it rushes forward within the first minute to Mahan’s ripping soloing. But just as suddenly impetus decelerates for a plodding passage that almost hint of doom-metal, with Mahan returning for another biting lead guitar run. The furious pace returns to close things out.
The albums most melodic, “Through You” might taper the initiative and heaviness but still delivers its share of guitar driven edged and decisive low end momentum. Chorus is quite memorable and overall feel on the emotional side of things, as can be found in lyrics dealing with the struggles in the life of a Christian:
Knowing that your Word is real
Knowing that You're true
Still I find myself in chains
Can't make it without You
Looking to Your guiding light
Wanting to come in
Always there to help me out
You pick me up again
Good times come and good times go
I'll always need You
Showing me the wrongs and rights
Your love comes shinning through
Best of all You help me when
Temptations enter in
You conquered the darkest night
You made me new again
“Time’s End” ranks with the heaviest of the heavies. The albums title track slows things to a portent mid-paced rumble, highlighted by some technical underpinnings and a subtle but persuasive catchiness not unlike that of “In The Night”. In other words, similar to much of the material here, the song hits hard but brings enough melody to stick with you for time to come.
“Primed And Ready” is another example of prime Saint songwriting abilities. This one finds the return of abundant hooks, reflected in another pull you in chorus (similar to “Island Prisoner”) but balanced with an earnest low end drive and more than ample guitar driven underpinning. Again, I would have loved to hear what might have happened if this had received airplay on FM radio back in the day. The second coming is the subject at hand:
When it all has come to pass
When the first have become last
When evils lost the final fight
To the King and all His might
Memories will fade away
The horrors of forgotten days
Except the one who's chosen wrath
He tasting death who's laughing last
Primed and ready
The end of time is near
He's coming back for those who care
I never grew into “Destroyers” on previous versions of Time’s End. Due to the advanced mastering to the Retroactive re-issue, however, the song comes to life in the form of a heavy duty but dominant slab of metal that is both forceful and no-nonsense at the same time. In other words, this is the first time I find myself listening to it on a consistent basis.
What we have in “Phantom Of The Galaxy” is a two and a half minute speed metal romp. The song brings non-stop energy in abundance, bordering on the infectious with its unrestrained riff action and catchy hooks approaching the mesmerizing. "Phantom Of The Galaxy" exposes Satan and his hatred for mankind:
What is the fate of those that you hate
Binding your victims they're tortured and chained
In your clammy grip a monster insane,
Poison and perfume come in small flasks
Pours out like water to those that dare ask.
Death is the name that you claim
Phantom of the galaxy
Death is the name that you claim Phantom (Of the galaxy)
“Steel Killer”, the albums longest at just under six minutes, tempers the pace in giving rise to some understated thrash elements. The song breaks down into two parts: The first is driven forcefully through the verses and hulking chorus of its first two minutes followed by a lengthy instrumental interlude. The second, covering the next two minutes, maintains the instrumental propensity but with an even more ominous emphasis. “Steel Killer” maintains the theme of “Phantom Of The Galaxy”:
Pleasure and pain there's lots in store
Take all that you want there's plenty more
Death in the air, devils delight
You play his game you lose your life
Is there protection from this evil being
One to stand and fight
There is provision from the One who brings
Truth so full of might
Death is due destruction evils last fight
End of all darkness when morning meets the night
The Retroactive re-issue proves in no uncertain terms the difference a quality re-mastering job can make. I am now able to listen to Time’s End and enjoy the experience in the process, knowing I will not be later placing the album on the shelf for an extended period of time. Again, a very high recommendation even if you already have a previous version of Time’s End in your possession.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "In The Night" (3:26), "Island Prisoner" (4:21), "Space Cruiser" (5:16), "Through You" (4:11), "Time’s End" (4:41), "Primed And Ready" (3:47), "Destroyers" (3:18), "Phantom Of The Galaxy” (2:33), “Steel Killer" (5:46)
Josh Kramer – Vocals
John Mahan – Guitars
Richard Lynch – Bass
Brian Willis – Drums