The Past Behind came at a pivotal time in the history of metal music. In the mid 80’s pop metal was on the rise, and thanks to MTV, would soon peak in popularity, but there was a small and growing segment of the headbanging population that craved harder and faster tuneage. Christian bands like One Bad Pig, and later Lust Control would take up the punk ethos, but it took The Lead to marry the hard, chaotic attitude of punk with the blindingly fast riffage of speed metal, and come out with something entirely new. Just compare this early crossover thrash with later thrash or even modern metalcore. The urgency they had to bring the gospel message to a dying world in a fresh new medium is hard to find these days.
With the band releasing their reunion ep Again a year or two ago, The Lead has garnered interest again (and rightly so), and now is a great time for some reissues of their hard to find back catalog. The beauty of this limited edition (only 300) remastered version from Roxx is that The Past Behind has never been on cd before. The band self- released (3=1 version) in 1987 and then signed with R.E.X. Records, who reissued the album a year later with new artwork. Owing to the fact that The Lead’s sound was very raw and sounded live, even in the studio, I wondered how it would sound to bring their music, kicking and screaming, into the digital age. But if there’s any doubt, you can compare the new versions A/B with the 1987 versions, or even live versions from Cornerstone, or from 1986 and 1987 demos. Is having 5 versions of “He Won’t Take A Joke” overkill? Yeah, probably, but it’s cool to hear the progression of demo to finished product, or to hear how the band adapted their songs to a live situation. This album is a pleasure to hear again, all the time and tempo changes within a song, and you can just envision the mosh pit getting into a good rhythm on the beginning of “No Religion” and then going nuts when the band drops over the edge into high speed chaos. I love hearing all the different vocal styles- Julio doing death metal vocals in “He Won’t Take A Joke,” sometimes he’s just shouting and Nina is hollering right over top of him. “No Religion” and “Tunnel Vision” are the strongest of the material, and I remember “Tunnel Vision” getting heavy airplay late night on our local Christian radio station at the time. So whether you fondly remember the music and ministry of The Lead or are discovering them for the first time, this disc is a great find. 6 songs, plus bonus after bonus, for a whopping 25 tracks. Long live The Lead! (Roxx Records) 4 out of 5 stars