The “Bomb” Is Back … And Bigger (Sounding) Than Ever!
This is definitely one of the coolest vinyl reissues I’ve seen. Instead of trying to replicate the original CD release and translate it directly on to vinyl, the best material was culled, all of the filler was removed, and the songs were rearranged to best suit a “2-side” vinyl record. As much as I really liked the CD version of this album (2009), I always felt like it was a disjointed mess with all of the classical interludes and such. Not that those tracks weren’t cool (especially the acoustic guitar version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”), but they didn’t really fit with the return to heavy rock ‘n’ roll vibe most of these songs exuded. Furthermore, there were some filler songs on the original for sure, so I am pleased to report that “Industrial Christ” and “Look In My Head” didn’t make the cut to vinyl. I do think “We Are The People” was a really good song (it will be missed here), but I applaud Bride and Retroactive Records for selecting the best songs for the vinyl cut given the space available for a single LP reissue.
As #3 in the From The Vault Vinyl Series, Tsar Bomba isn’t a particularly vault-ish (old) recording. Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising that the songs sound absolutely killer in this format. At the time of the original release I distinctly remember stating in my review …
“While 2006’s Skin for Skin heralded a return to the heavy (almost metal) side it felt “heavy-handed” and a bit one dimensional. Honestly, I didn’t have any expectation good or bad for this new release. Surprisingly, not only are Jerry McBroom (early years) and Steve Osbourne (really early years) back, so is the passion, the sincerity, the killer grooves, the melodies, the diversity and the overall great songwriting.”
As I listen to these songs almost a decade later I have to say that my original opinion has only strengthened. Here are a few more words from 2009…
“From the semi-reggae tune ‘We Are Together’ to the Zeppelin-esque ‘Love Shine’ to the heavy hitting ‘Separate’ or the Alice Cooper-ish, slightly progressive ‘Never,’ this just ‘feels’ more like the Bride of old.” – Doc
One of the songs that I really didn’t appreciate as much at the time of the original release was “Last Thing That I Feel.” The whole song has this trippy, kind of doomy guitar riff and groove – something fans of Led Zep would enjoy for sure. The lyrics are really gripping as well so the whole song just explodes out of the speakers on this vinyl format. And “When I Was A Kid” made the cut here as well – another great fun and upbeat rock ‘n’ roll story that reflects on the wisdom of moving away from childish ways and forgetting about the “old life” as we’ve been made new in Christ. Oh, but the music is still child-like fun! Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the power ballad, piano-drive “Downward.” This song was built for the vinyl era, and despite a few nostalgic crackles here and there in the quiet sections, this song chills. On the CD you don’t appreciate the Linkin’ Park like beats Jerry McBroom lays down with the bass drum, but his drums really seem to be louder in the mix on the vinyl version.
The black vinyl disc comes housed in an inner paper sleeve (my only complaint) encompassed by the fold-over outer sleeve/jacket with lyrics clearly printed on the inner side (sans Scripture references like on the CD) of the outer sleeve. My cover is signed (see above), and the whole ensemble is packaged in a re-sealable poly bag as has been the norm for this series. My record was pretty dirty but cleaned up well with the Record Doctor V. I am seeing a lot of residual marking from the manufacturing on the record surface though, even after cleaning, in a way similar to the Armageddon disc in this same series. Fortunately, I don’t think it affects the playability at all.
I A/B’d the record with the original CD (on the same sound system without adjusting EQ between listens) and was quite shocked (pleasantly) to discover just how different these recording formats sound from each other. The CD is quite loud as would be the norm these days, and the quiet sections are really quiet. But the vinyl version has this huge undertow of power and warmth. You can crank these songs as loud as you want without listener fatigue and the low end punch vibrates the room with rock fervor. I highly recommend fans of the band and those who love heavy rock with convicting and encouraging lyrics to grab this before they are all gone (only 150 made). Not only is the presentation more stripped down here compared to the original release, but the sounds are more immersive and powerful.
“Grace I want to hold you/Grace I want to know you.” – “Love Shine”
1. All We Are (5:11)
2. Love Shine (5:29)
3. We Are Together (4:40)
4. When I Was A Kid (4:15)
5. Last Thing That I Feel (4:37)
6. Separate (4:48)
7. Nothing Means Anything To Me (6:05)
8. Downward (5:52)
9. Never (5:57)