Back to the Youth
This is about the time of year when we realize, looking back, that there was a ton of music released this year … that we failed to cover when it was released. Dynasty of Metal’s Back to the Past, was one such release that we totally missed. I confess that I’ve had this on my radar to review, but alas “no time, no time…”
Nevertheless, here we are, right around holiday time when folks are looking for gifts and something “unique” with which to surprise a friend or loved one. Look no further. For those who don’t remember, I reviewed Dynasty’s three excellent reissue/back catalog releases (Girder Records) about a year ago. (Motus Perpetuus, Warriors of the King, Step by Step). This Brazilian group is immensely talented, and with Back to the Past they are proving also to be immensely creative!
Not surprisingly, this cleverly titled full-length (with obvious reference to the iconic Back to the Future movie series from the 80’s) is actually a collection of cover songs (plus one new original track) spanning from the formative/glory years of Christian metal and rock (1984-2002). This from the CD insert tray:
As my guitar shimmered.
A portal appeared.
Songs from my past enveloped me.
I knew that stepping through it would change everything.
I traveled back in time and found myself young once again.
Interestingly, the track listing is important as the songs sequence from 1984 to 2002. Well, the Boanerges song is out of sequence at the end, and then the new song is from 2022, but otherwise the song order is from the past forward. Of course, there are some years with multiple representative tracks, and there isn’t a song from every year during that period as there would not be enough space on one disc for that kind of coverage.
And speaking of coverage … this is a very comprehensive and representative selection of songs and artists condensed into 72 minutes. For sure, the artists covered represent some of the best from that era, but some may question why bands like Guardian or certainly Resurrection Band were not included. Not enough space? I would suspect that these bands specifically inspired Dynasty during their “youth” as musicians, which is also in-line with the theme of the album.
Regardless, I respect Dynasty’s decision as to who WERE included, particularly Impellitteri/Rob Rock – a band and singer, in my opinion, who were integral to keeping melodic metal burning in the ‘90’s. I suspect Boanerges makes the cut due to the South American connection.
Additionally, this is a nice mix of the “hits” (“Too Late for Living,” “Ark of Suffering,” “Weapons of our Warfare” and “Long Live the King”) and some deeper tracks from the representative artists (“The Rock That Makes Me Roll,” “He Died,” “Out of Love” and “Web of Fire”).
Recorded between 2020 and 2022, there is a consistency to the sound quality and mix throughout to the point where it sounds like all the tracks were recorded within a month of each other. The CD is housed in a jewel case with a 16-page, wonderfully illustrated booklet containing all the lyrics and credits. CD artwork, booklet, tray, cover picture … its all so great!
Back to the Music
Back to the Past not only represents a great trip down memory lane for Christian metalheads, but it should be clear that these songs are really, really well-executed by a very talented group of musicians and an extremely diverse singer who is able to channel the energy from 16 different singers! That truly is something in and of itself! Nahor Andrade brings-it with passion and intensity on every song here.
“Metal Nerd” Challenge*
If you are a fan of Christian metal from the 80’s and 90’s then challenge yourself. Listen to the CD from start to finish and name every band and song without referring to the CD text or the booklet. If you know the year of the original release as well then you are a true metal nerd! Do it, do it now!! Otherwise, read on…
*CD not included.
Of all the Petra songs that you could immortalize in metal… “Beat the System” is the perfect choice from my perspective – complete with the whistles! While the starting year (1984) of this trip to the past eludes me, picking a song that was mired in ‘80’s electronic pop is genius. The original is a great song, but Dynasty has “metallized” a pop 80’s rocker!
Soldiers Under Command remains my favorite Stryper album of all time, partly because it was released in 1985 and partly because the songs are so consistently great. While the title track is the song most would choose to cover, I love that Dynasty chose “The Rock That Makes Me Roll” because its such a perfectly paced melodic metal burner. The song’s basic structure (nicely preserved here) translates well with the power metal (with heavy double bass drum) style of Dynasty.
My biggest criticism of Intense Defense was the “thin” production quality – it just never sounded beef-y enough on the low end and so at high volumes the listener fatigue set in. So, to hear “Only Yesterday” with contemporary production and mixing is pure bliss! Such a great song and a “deep” choice for Dynasty, but they execute it perfectly.
Similarly, “He Died” is another example of a great song which never sounded all that great with the tools (and budget) available to Sacred Warrior at the time. I love that Dynasty chose to keep the keyboards, and the punch from the guitars and drums on this Back to the Past rendering breathes a whole new life into this classic. Maybe not the first choice to cover from that album, but I’m glad they pulled it off.
Less surprisingly, “Too Late for Living” represents the Saint contribution to our time travel excursion. Again, the rendering is both true to the original yet adds the punch and kick and shred of contemporary recording capabilities. Amazing!
The way in which Nahor Andrade captures the essence of all these iconic vocalists from back in the day is truly astounding and his performance on “Lost Soldier” is one of the highlights. Similarly, the band shreds on this song as well – every note where it should be and those drums add more power and intensity to the original recording.
Guy Ritter is not an easy vocalist to channel – his style quite unique, quite unorthodox. Nevertheless, Andrade nails “Ark of Suffering,” this one also a fairly accurate rendering of the original. The guitar solo, of course, diverges from the original – which is cool – but other than the solo and the “big rock ending,” this version feels like home.
Interestingly, Dynasty selected Deliverance’s most “famous” song to represent Christian metaldom’s most iconic thrash band. While it would have been nice to hear a deeper track from the big D on Back to the Past I respect the choice to cover “Weapons of our Warfare” for its sheer impact. Perfect execution.
On the other hand, the cover of “Out of Love” represents one of the biggest surprises on the release – without doubt a great song, but so many other Bloodgood songs are more well-known. However, one of the qualities which makes this release so special is that there is the variety of old/new, well-known, less well-known.
Choosing a song from Snakes in the Playground may have seemed intuitive, if not imperative, but which one to choose is much more complicated! While it might have been tempting to go with “Rattlesnake” or “Would You Die For Me” I like this choice as “Psychedelic Super Jesus” has that “shock factor” which makes it so great. Another incredibly challenging song to sing – and while the accent gives the song a distinctly Brazilian vibe, he done did it!
Most bands would pick a song from one of the first two Whitecross albums, and maybe from the third or fourth releases … but High Gear? This choice represents high praise to go this deep in a band’s catalog, but “Without Your Love” is one of the best songs from that release and this version rocks with grit and conviction – the Whitecross way! Even the guitar solo is spot-on. Bravo!
Undoubtedly, due to the concept of “moving in time from past to present” Dynasty had to select some songs from their metal icons which might not have been first on the list. (Otherwise, all the songs would have been from a narrow time period, right?) But Rattle Your Cage was an incredibly strong release for when it was released, and so “No Time to Run” works well – very faithful rendition.
Handling Chris Impellitteri’s guitar leads is a daunting challenge, let alone Rob Rock’s iconic voice. “Eye of the Hurricane” is a heroic choice for that reason alone, but also because most people wouldn’t include a secular band on this jaunt through the halls of Christian metal fame. As I opined earlier, these guys played an incredibly important role in the ‘90’s which most fans acknowledge.
Comparatively, “Long Live the King” slows things down in classic metal fashion, but Dynasty injects their power metal mojo in the middle shred/solo section and then again on the outro with the double bass drum.
“Web of Fire” is representative of the kind of riff-heavy metal for which Relentless is so well-known and lauded. Andrade once again perfectly channels the Steve Rowe vocal energy/tone and the band more than competently executes the sounds – including the blistering bass guitar lines which stand out appropriately in the mix. Tiago Vitek’s drumming expertise shines on this track.
What else can be said? Can’t think of a better song for Dynasty to cover and cover it well they do! The drums are killer, the guitars shred, and Andrade’s vocals are superb.
Dynasty of Metal
The only original track on the release, “Everlasting Life” starts out with a riff reminiscent of Impellitteri’s “Warrior,” but otherwise this tune has an almost early ‘90’s style, especially that chorus section. The lyrics are based on 1 Peter 1-5, which seems to fit in well with the idea of Back to the Past on a spiritual level – permanent vitality (youth), metaphorically speaking, with eternal life.
1. Beat the System (4:06)
2. The Rock That Makes Me Roll (4:51)
3. Only Yesterday (3:42)
4. He Died (3:56)
5. Too Late for Living (4:05)
6. Lost Soldier (3:46)
7. Ark of Suffering (4:28)
8. Weapons of our Warfare (4:20)
9. Out of Love (3:19)
10. Psychedelic Super Jesus (3:59)
11. Without Your Love (3:54)
12. No Time to Run (3:41)
13. Eye of the Hurricane (4:30)
14. Long Live the King (5:19)
15. Web of Fire (4:49)
16. Boanerges (5:27)
17. Everlasting Life (4:14)
Dynasty has surpassed my expectations with this “cover” release, which represents not only a fantastic tribute to the artists/songs they’ve emulated, but also stands as a testament to both their incredible talents/gifts as well as their faith in Jesus Christ. So, if you are still looking for the perfect gift to bestow upon a friend or loved one, check out this link to Roxx Records.