There are still a handful of memories of key moments and bands in my music world from the 1980’s, and Malachia is one of them. Back in those days it was cassette centered world, with a continual flow of “demo” tapes from young new Christian metal bands looking to get that “big break” of getting signed to a label. Some tapes were great, some were…well, horrible. A very small number of bands had the means to self-release their material on vinyl, setting them above the demo tape crowd. Malachia was such a band.
Another thing that set this band out from the pack, is vocalist Ken Pike’s vocal styling that often got compared to Geoff Tate (of Queensryche). When Queensryche hit the scene just a couple of years earlier, his unique and powerful vocal style quickly became the basis of comparison and a meter for greatness, but few could match up. Ken’s vocals come close, and to have a Christian band of similar style got the attention of many.
I remember spinning the Under the Blade album over and over, and loving it. It was catchy and had the hooks to keep my attention. I fondly remember days just counting down the minutes to get off work to get home and listen again. Now some may listen to this album today and be turned off by the rawness, or the not so high quality of recording. Sure, it has it’s limitations, but back in a day when there were lots and lots of sub-par wannabe bands releasing mediocre tapes, Malachia stood above the pack with their release.
I no longer have the vinyl of Under the Blade, but I have had a digital copy for years, and I still played it periodically. So when I heard the news of this remastered reissue…yeah, I was excited.
Now that I have this package in hand, it is so much more than I imagined. I was nowhere near the California music scene back in those days, and what little we knew about bands never seemed to reveal all of the other history and recordings that existed. This complete anthology is two discs full of everything I missed and was unaware even existed.
Disc one starts off with the Red Sunrise album, which was the follow up to Under the Blade. It contains the six tracks from UTB, re-recorded, plus two additional tracks. Now, I am one of those people who definitely prefers the UTB sound over the keyboard heavy Red Sunrise tracks, but I’m not a hater, and even it still has a dear place in my mind. Also on disc one are all the tracks from UTB, so you get the best of both worlds here. Also added is a 2018 remastered edition of the song “Runaway” which had appeared on the California Metal 2 compilation after the band changed their name to Vision (which I found odd since there was already a band using that name with a few albums out just a couple of years before this time). So disc one contains all of the band’s highest quality released tracks. This alone would have been a great release. But wait…there is more!
Disc two starts with the original edition of “Runaway” and then the disc is filled with fourteen other demo tracks. We get a four track 1985 demo, six “lost garage/basement” recordings as well as four additional tracks with a different vocalist and a more commercial sound style wise. The first disc is a must-have, the second is icing on the cake for collectors. Even the demos sound good thanks to the work put into this release.
I love it and truly appreciate when a lot of effort and work is put into reissuing a top notch edition of a classic and loved piece of musical history, and this set, with two discs full with thirty-one tracks, and a 16-page booklet crammed with great information, shows te love and care that went into this classic release.
And if you act fast, you can still grab the edition with the third bonus disc. The band appeared at the 1987 Metal Mardi Gras festival, and a bootleg recording of their show is on a limited disc edition of this release. Yes, you know I bought that. It is raw, it is a bootleg, but I’ve had a bootleg video of the whole show for decades, so this is a nice piece to add to my collection. The only thing that, in my opinion, could have made this better, would be for them to have gotten their hands on the master tapes for the whole Metal Mardi Gras pro-shot show that was used for that official video release, and have reissued that on DVD for this set. But even without that, there is more than enough to enjoy in this set as it is. Be sure to grab a copy of this limited release from Roxx Records soon!