JOSHUA: Intense Defense (Remastered)

Like the song says, “I’ve been waiting.”

Waiting to hear this incredibly melodic album get the punch and headroom it deserved. With 10 songs of utter perfection, it hardly seemed like this album needed to be messed with. However, I always turned these songs up and they never seemed to hit that threshold of true melodic metal satisfaction – fullness of volume.

Have you ever heard the very first Van Halen album? One of the brilliant things about it was that it had the necessary “headroom” to crank as loud as you want. The sonics would get louder and louder until your ears begged for a lower volume. The lead guitar and high notes have a place to soar above the low end and the rest of the mix.

Now it is possible for tunes like “Reach Up,” which starts off this shiny new-sounding album, to do just that – reach for the sonic ceiling. As soon as you hit Play with this album, you can hear the punch of the drums a little louder, the high notes reach a little higher.

I’m not sure if producer Frank Mono, who directed traffic for this album (inside Dierks Studios in Cologne), was outfitting drummer Tim Gehrt with electronic or synthesized drums (they were all the rage back in the mid-to-late ‘80s), but these drums feel more authentic and acoustic.

I really enjoy being able to isolate instruments more with this remastered version. The opening bass lines by Emil Lech in “Only Yesterday,” for example, take center stage for a moment.

Granted, the majority of this album is awash in treble and high end sonics. There’s not a whole lot of difference that’s noticeable, which is a tribute to producer Frank Mono and Pete Woodroffe and Uwe Sabirowsky, who originally mixed the album.

The opening guitar riffs to “Living on the Edge” sound fuller and thicker. I’m not sure I have the audio engineering expertise to say with authority that the original tracks were “more compressed,” but that sounds right to these ears and this brain. Compressed tracks sound and feel smaller. Uncompressed tracks (or tracks not compressed as much) sound fuller and bigger. In fact, if you’re looking for that mouth-watering guitar tone popular in the ‘80s (from the likes of Dokken, etc.), this song is a prime example. It’s a guitar tone to die for. Joshua Perahia kills it on every song here like Schenker-era UFO. The drums and bass separate for a monster sound on this tune, as well. It’s one of the tougher tunes on the album.

The Europe and Bon Jovi sounding intro to “Tearing at my Heart” are so pristine that it sets up the angry, dry drums with great dynamics. When the big chorus comes, your body is rocking. This and the snare drumming in “Don’t You Know” is crisp. It sounds more like being in a live room with the drummer.

It goes without saying that Rob Rock’s vocals here sound amazing. All the background vocals that chime in with such precision make this album a delight for musicians to hear. There’s so much to pay attention to, but it’s not overly busy. Somehow the songs show restraint, including just what’s needed to wow the listener.

Even in the quieter moments, like the ballad “Remembering You,” the drums are a little fresher, more distinguishable. I’m most surprised to hear a fuller sound to the keyboards in a song like “Stand Alone,” which I did not expect. I was first looking for the low end to be beefed up. This adds more kick and power to the tunes. This high-end stuff is like tastier icing on the cake.

Like most people that watch football, who just follow the ball, I tend to follow the vocalist throughout a song. Dissecting this new remastered version, however, forces me to listen to the backbone and foundation of the music. I’m hearing bass lines when I usually just feel them in the background. This is well done.

About Author