Deliverance: Christian Thrash Legends Return With "The Subversive Kind"
Christian metal legends Deliverance have returned! The band released its first new studio album in nearly five years, The Subversive Kind, via 3 Frogz Records/Roxx Productions in February 2018. The album's creation was made possible thanks to a successful crowd-funding campaign in 2017 and reunites "The Big D's" founding guitarist/vocalist Jimmy P. Brown II with original lead guitarist Glenn Rogers (ex-Heretic, Hirax) for the first time since Deliverance's 1989 debut album. The disc will also feature performances by former Tourniquet bassist Victor Macias and Greg Minier (guitars) and Jim Chaffin (drums) of The Crucified. Fans got a sneak peek of the new album when a lyric video for the first single, "The Black Hand," hit YouTube in October '17 to great response.
Deliverance's long and mostly-proud history has resulted in an extremely diverse, adventurous catalog of music that is - depending on which album you listen to - aggressive, epic, confrontational, experimental, and occasionally controversial. Since their humble beginnings as a straight up speed metal band in the mid '80s, Deliverance has taken their loyal fan base on journeys into unexpected musical territories depending on Brown's creative whims. In response to fans who've been begging for a "classic" style Deliverance album, the current lineup has adopted the slogan "Thrash is Back!" to hype the new material, and compared The Subversive Kind to Slayer's Reign in Blood (!), which certainly sounds promising!
Initially inspired by Stryper, who were just beginning to make waves in the hard-rock scene with their potent mix of Marshall amplification and Christian evangelism, Deliverance formed in Southern California in 1985. Brown and his band mates were fans of harder-edged fare such as Metallica, Anthrax and Queensryche, thus they chose to increase their musical intensity accordingly and introduced the sounds of Thrash Metal to the Christian rock community. The original lineup of Jimmy P. Brown II (vocals/guitar), Glenn Rogers (lead guitar), Brian Khairullah (bass) and Chris Hyde (drums) cut a six-track demo called Greetings of Death in '85 that sold more than 5,000 copies thanks to good buzz in the underground tape trading scene. Deliverance's first appearance on vinyl came in the form of two tracks ("Attack" and "A Space Called You") on the seminal compilation album California Metal (Regency Records, 1987), alongside other up-and-coming Christian hard rockers like Barren Cross, Guardian and Mastedon. Christian metal's "boom years" were about to begin, and Deliverance found themselves at the forefront of the wave.
"Weapons of Our Warfare" (1990)
Making a Splash...
Deliverance signed with the then-hot Christian metal label Intense Records and released their self titled debut album in 1989. Produced by thrash guru Bill Metoyer, who'd previously worked with such mosh-worthy bands as Sacred Reich, D.R.I. and Flotsam and Jetsam, Deliverance's crunching musical attack and positive message garnered rave reviews in both the Christian and secular metal press. Former Recon axeman George Ochoa took over Glenn Rogers' guitar position on the follow up, 1990's classic Weapons Of Our Warfare - an epic thrash platter that is widely considered to be the Christian metal movement's Master of Puppets. The music video for Weapons' title track got some play on MTV's "Headbanger's Ball" and legend has it that Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich himself gave the clip a thumbs-up. Weapons was Deliverance's high water mark, selling more than 100,000 copies - an astounding number considering that the album was distributed mainly within Christian book and music retail networks rather than "secular" record stores. Ochoa's Recon bandmate Mike Grato joined in time to appear on 1991's What A Joke, an album that ruffled some feathers in Deliverance's conservative fan base due to the sarcastically humorous lyrics and some controversial song choices, like a thrashed-out version of the Christmas standard "Silent Night" (!) and a cover of Black Sabbath's "After Forever."
Hoping to stretch their creative muscles and be seen as more than just the "Christian answer to Metallica," 1992's Stay of Execution marked Deliverance's first major change in musical direction, pulling back on the accelerator and adding progressive touches to their still-aggressive delivery. 1993's Learn, '94's River Disturbance and '95's Camelot In Smithereens were marked by near-constant lineup changes (aside from main man Brown) and continued the expansion of Deliverance's sonic palette, mixing influences from the Goth, alternative, electronic and industrial music scenes into the band's prog-flavored soup. When Intense Records closed up shop in 1995, Brown put the band on hiatus, citing burnout with the meat-grinder mentality of the music industry.
Ya Can't Keep A Good Band Down...
Even while Brown busied himself with other projects like the Goth/electronic flavored Fearful Symmetry and the 70s rock inspired Jupiter VI, demand for new Deliverance music remained high. Brown kept the name out there by releasing several compilations of vintage early material like 2000's Back In The Day: The First Four Years and 2001's Greetings of Death, Etc. Eventually the pull of "The Big D" proved too strong to resist, and Brown announced the band's reformation at the dawn of the new millennium. The reunited "D" released a live album taped at the Cornerstone Festival in 2001 and followed it up with a new studio album, Assimilation, that same year. Assimilation was a dark, experimental record that didn't sound much like the Deliverance of old, and the band faded from view once again. They resurfaced in 2007 with yet another new lineup and album, As Above So Below, which showed hints of the old thrash-metal fire with nods to metal's 21st century sound. All the while, Deliverance continued to influence musicians throughout the Christian rock scene, as evidenced by 2010's double-disc tribute album Temporary Insanity: A Tribute To Deliverance, which featured re-interpretations of the band's classic tracks by newer Christian headbangers like Grave Robber, Oil, Faith Factor, and Eternal Decision. When Deliverance returned in 2013 to release Hear What I Say! it was announced that it would be the band's "final" album, but obviously Jimmy has re-considered!
"The Black Hand" (2018)
Summin' it up...
Deliverance has been around for so long and dipped their collective toes into so many musical styles along the way that in the past it was sometimes tough to predict what a new "D" album would sound like. The sneak peek of "The Black Hand," the band's declaration that "Thrash is Back!" and the involvement of Rogers and Macias all seem to signify that Deliverance is in an old-school frame of mind this time around, and that The Subversive Kind will be a barn burning, no holds barred metal album. Bring it on, Jimmy!
Greetings of Death (demo) - self released, 1985
Deliverance - Intense Records, 1989
Weapons Of Our Warfare - Intense, 1990
What A Joke - Intense, 1991
Stay of Execution - Intense, 1992
Learn - Intense, 1993
Intense Live Series Vol. 1 (EP) - Intense, 1993
A Decade of Deliverance - Intense, 1994
River Disturbance - Brainstorm, 1994
Camelot In Smithereens - Intense, 1995
Back In the Day: The First Four Years - Magdalene, 2000
Assimilation - Indie Dream, 2001
Greetings Of Death, Etc. - Magdalene, 2001
Live At Cornerstone 2001 - Magdalene, 2001
As Above, So Below - Retroactive, 2007
Hear What I Say! - 3 Frogz, 2013
The Subversive Kind - 3 Frogz/Roxx Productions, 2018
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© 2012 Keith Abt