Misled, Misunderstood, Misinformed
For those who thought 2013’s Hear What I Say was Deliverance’s swan song, think again. While that release was truly a nice amalgamation of all of their styles over the years, I think it left many fans wanting more. After much anticipation, Deliverance returns with yet another line-up (Brown II, Jim Chaffin, V. Macias and Glenn Rogers!) and yes, the long-awaited return to the thrashy (“roots”) aggression that characterized their inception-days brand of metal. They even bring in Greg Minier for additional solo shreds. Ah, but most of the die-hard fans already know these things…
Every once in a while I approach reviewing and critique from the somewhat unorthodox perspective of actually reading the lyrics first to get a feel for where the artist is coming from and what they are thinking, socially, philosophically and spiritually. I do this without listening to any of the pre-release singles as well. “But its metal, Doc, so who cares about the lyrics?” Yeah, I get that in general, but Deliverance – like many of the bands for whom I have great deal of respect – has always and does always have a lot to say worth hearing. And, you know, in metal, sometimes the lyrics get lost in the molten aural assault. The main question that came to mind when I heard the hype about this one going back to the early days was, “Will we get the evangelical ‘in your face’ lyrics?” I had no doubt Brown and friends could pull off the music, but what about the lyrics? Not surprisingly, Jimmy is making a strong spiritual statement, one any observer of world affairs can hardly fail to notice. There is a righteous angst here that aligns with the frustrations of living as a Christian in the corrupted world where the media and the global body of “governing” entities force-feed their agenda on the masses. I couldn’t help but notice the similarities in the message here with that put forth by Orphaned Land on their new release a month ago. Lyrically, this is right where I would expect Deliverance to be at this point in their career – mature, relevant, truthful and edgy and angst-ridden enough to complement the music.
I’ve heard a few complaints about Jimmy’s voice on this release, that its not melodic enough. Yes, it is a bit more machine-like and monotone compared to some of his former work, but I, for one, am thankful that he isn’t trying to soar above his range anymore. Age effects on the vocal cord dissertation aside, his vocals are commensurate with the subject matter and style here. Most of the songs are fast, filled with wonderful guitar tones and perfectly brilliant soloing like you would expect. Chaffin’s drums sound great – love that China cymbal! Really, everything sounds great and the recording quality is fantastic, yet retains enough of the needed rawness to keep it metal. The songs are consistently excellent, but it would be a fair criticism to say that the song length and structure is quite similar from song to song. My favorite songs would be “The Black Hand” with its more open-sounding intro and more progressive/melodic vibe, “Listen Closely” for its thrash-infused truthful warning/hopeful invitation, and the anthemic “The Fold” (which may be the best song here) for “the call” to stand firm in faith and conviction.
I’ve listened to both the vinyl and CD versions multiple times and both have their strengths. The CD is not overly compressed, but the vinyl sounds nice and old-school. I do appreciate that Roxx has released the vinyl in a heavier weight jacket with a plastic (rather than paper) sleeve. I have the red disc and it looks pretty cool as well. In conclusion, The Subversive Kind is an extremely strong musical and lyrical statement. I can’t imagine most fans of the early material would have much to complain about here. At 31 minutes its way too short, but quality over quantity I suppose. Thanks to Jimmy and company for keeping it metal. [Roxx Productions]