Believer "Gabriel" CDPosted on Wednesday, March 18th, 2009 @ 7:16am » permalink
Anytime 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…