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Believer "Gabriel" CD

Posted on Wednesday, March 18th, 2009 @ 7:16am » permalink

Believer - GabrielAnytime a band gets back together and releases their first record in more than 15 years, it's hard not to be at least a little skeptical – even if it's a band as creatively respected as cult legends Believer, who have done just that with "Gabriel" (released by Metal Blade Records), which is their first studio album since 1993's "Dimensions". But with about an hour's worth of music, including some of their longest songs to date, I'd say they've actually pulled it off pretty well here. Sure, it doesn't match the speed or aggression that was present on "Extraction From Mortality" and "Sanity Obscure", but I wouldn't expect it to, and there are still a hell of a lot of chunky thrash riffs to be found herein regardless. Plus, to be completely honest with you, while adding a keyboardist/programmer to the band sounds like a truly terrifying move, it actually works out just fine – to the point where I could even argue that some of the weird atmospheric breaks and quirky little oddball layering twists of "Gabriel" are more tactful and cohesive than those of "Dimensions".

Whatever your take, it's undeniably Believer, though. You've got a foundation of tautly chugging midpaced to moderately fast thrash and those strained, sneering vocals complemented by strange chord phrasings and arrangements; tasteful grooves; warped, jazzy solos; glitchy electronic interludes; and an overall feeling that's generally quite unique to the identity that Believer alone has created. And all of this is wrapped in an intriguing recording that combines a perfectly thick, crunchy guitar tone with crisp, prominent bass and tight drumming under what feels like an occasional sheen of textured distance that washes over everything to create a sense of, just… weirdness… but it works! Certain facets of the songwriting could use a little more punch, but you simply can't fuck with the back-to-back attack of "The Need for Conflict" and "Focused Lethality" (just past the midway point of the record), as both songs are absolutely awesome and easily stand up right alongside Believer's early-90's classics. That's not to suggest that the band was aiming to repeat the past, though, because I don't think that's the case at all. As stated earlier, this is just Believer: This is what they do. This material marks another logical progression in the Believer timeline, and I'm fairly confident that "Gabriel" as it stands today would've made just as much sense had it been released back in 1995/1996. But seeing as it is indeed 2009, this is an incredibly respectable and welcomed return…

Believer "Focused Lethality"


@ Metal Blade Records (CD/mp3)
@ The End Records (CD)
@ Relapse Records (CD)
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)


  1. baby wants to grind says:

    Thanks, I'd never checked out Believer before. But when somebody makes it available like this, even a lazy ass like myself has to listen. Sounds great, think I'll look for some of their early stuff that you call classics.

  2. jim fucking winters says:

    i've only heard about 3 songs and…even though i played a solo or 2 on it (of which i only heard the sections i was playing over) i have a hard time with that fucking guitar tone.
    i've realized it's tough having an objective ear with this shit but i wanna hear it as a whole in case my pre-judgments are skewed.

  3. Trevor says:

    I have to pick up this release! never in my wildest dreams would I ever imagine Believer putting out another album. This looks interesting, the cover reminds me of a Tool cd. I cant wait to hear this! thanks for the review and enlightening me.

  4. Justin says:

    Fuckin' ace stuff! I've always loved this band and this an oddly convincing and formidable comeback. Will be picking it up ASAP.

  5. Dichatomy says:

    I likes it! Never heard these guys before, and based on this track and what's up on their myspace profile, that's a damn shame.

  6. Wolfhammer says:

    Seems like every old thrash band is making a "comeback" album over the past several years now. This sounds like it will be one of the better ones. Believer have always been a very talented band and hopefully they will start getting the recognition they deserve.

    Now bring on the new AT WAR and ATHEIST albums!

  7. jim fucking winters says:

    Atheist – that band without Rand or Roger is a waste.
    i despise Kelly Schaefer.
    they were fucking groundbreaking and he dude acts like it's been a one man show.
    Even with Steve Flynn's (now IN-time) drumming i'm curious to hear anything that remotely compares to anything of their past…even Elements!
    Neurotica didn't do shit and "tech" metal is back in so… Dude is a fucking tool!

    Rant over. just had to get that off my chest. haha.
    About the Believer.
    The guitar tone does still bother me.
    The songs are too fucking long.
    Interestingly enough my favorite songs are the less thrashy, more melodic ones towards the end.
    I wanted to hear more interplay with the basswork also. The possibilities were there and it all seems really safe, or just follow the root note shit.
    Anyway, I'm sure people will dig it regardless so good for them.


    LOVE the rants!

    And I much prefer the second half of the Believer CD as well.

  9. Bryan says:

    Great cd from start to finish. And I agree with the review in general. I respectfully disagree with Jim-I love the guitar tone. As a bassist, I am glad that the bass isn't crunched out by the guitar in the mix, as you can actually hear audible bass this time around! I loved all the old stuff and this feels like a fitting continuation and the next logical step in their evolution. My only gripe…ONLY gripe, is the lack of one Scott Laird's musical contributions. I loved that Dimensions was about 50% classical/50% metal. I miss that there aren't at least one or two other songs with violins, violas, and the soprano stylings of Scott's sister. But Believer did this at a time when VERY few bands were doing it. Now, with all the bands that have thrown in orchestra elements with metal, it's just become cliche. So I can understand why Kurt and Joey may have wanted to refrain from adding too much of that aspect.

    Overall a great cd. I've missed Believer and am glad they're back.

  10. jim fucking winters says:

    Bryan –
    Your comments are understandable.
    I agree the bass is more prominent this time around. I have to chalk the lack of any distinctly audible bass on Dimensions up to lousy equipment, then in the mixing to some extent as well. Once you try to boost the bass up enough to hear everything else starts getting blown out to where that it chokes other frequencies. It's all or next to essentially none.
    As a lontime fan and musician also i'm sure you're familiar with the fact that Kurt has always had a signiature tone, which, to these ears is sorely missed especially so many years later. That's my real gripe. Kurt has changed his equipment over the years and this is apparently the result. It just lacks those mids of his older sound. This seems more scooped-out, with less overall clarity than of the past – clean and tight, yet with just enough edge and bite.
    It would seem the instrumentation in general serves a different purpose on Gabriel. A reinvention of sorts to go hand-in-hand with the other various changes (time, line-up, message? who knows).
    As far as Scott's contributions.
    Without the liner notes, i wouldn't even know the dude was on it.

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