Deliverance: Hear What I Say review

It’s hard to believe that it was all the way back in 1985 that Jimmy P. Brown II and the rest of Deliverance first joined forces, with the unified purpose of not only making God and Jesus Christ cool, but to make them metal. A monumental task indeed at that time, but with bands like Stryper recieving major crossover success on MTV and mainstream rock radio, the band set about their mission to bring their music and message to the metal masses.

Their self-titled debut album in 1989 started an immediate buzz and the comparisons to Metallica began. Those comparisons and buzz grew even stronger and more frequent with the release of their sophomore album, Weapons Of Our Warfare in 1990. They were gaining strong momentum and their music and message began to reach a whole new audience when MTV put their video for the title track, “Weapons of Our Warfare” into regular rotation on The Headbangers Ball.

Driven by that success, they released three more albums: What a Joke, Stay of Execution and Learn. The later two found the band heading in a more progressive direction, mixing the grooves of Pantera and the song structures of Dream Theater to try and get away from the constant Metallica comparisons. Both albums recieved critical and fan acclaim and are still to this day, considered to be some of their finest work.

Despite a wealth of stellar material, the next two albums, River Disturbance and Camelot in Smithereens did not fare as well as their predecessors, causing the band to take a temporary hiatus before returning in 2002 with an album of new material called Assimilation. It and its 2007 follow up As Above-So Below, saw the band make a dramatic shift in sound, of a more industrial/electronica nature- a shift akin to Fear Factory or KMFDM, a decision that was not very well recieved by diehard fans.

The lackluster response triggered yet another hiatus. During that time, the band laid low, doing a few one off shows here and there, at the same time, releasing four albums of unreleased material, a best of and a live album recorded at the legendary Cornerstone festival. In July 2012, the band made an announcement that they would be reuniting to record their 10th and swansong studio album for 3 Frogz & Roxx Records entitled Hear What I Say.

The album is a grandiose, multi textured triumph that is both inventive and irresistible and which should cement their place in the annals of metal history. It goes without saying that Jimmy P. Brown II is back, center stage and in charge but he also brought back some old members of the Deliverance family, including Manny Morales on bass and Michael Phillips on guitar.

Both are at the top of their game and give this final chapter the respect and dignity the band so richly deserves by playing like it was the last day of their lives. Brown II also recruited Jayson Sherlock to play drums. His fluries of double kick drum, blastbeats and brutal breakdowns are spot and set the tone for entire album. Brown II is and rare form and had this to say.

The album begins with a rather somber and somewhat melancholy piano intro that gives no indicator of the audio assault that is about to be unleashed. The bone-jarring rhythms of “The Annals of Subterfuge” are classic Deliverance and sounds like a long lost track from the Stay of Execution album while the focused aggression of “Angst” is a throwback to the soundscapes created on the self titled debut and Weapons of Our Warfare-era Deliverance.

“Nude” is a blending of Learn and As Above-So Below with an almost-funk bass reminiscent of Earth Wind And Fire that is a perfect compliment to the sense of urgency portrayed in the manic guitar riffs. “Passing” picks up where Assimilation and As Above-So Below left off and is highlighted by punishing riffs lifted from the Stay of Execution play book.

“A Perfect Sky” is a hauntingly slow-burning acoustic number that could have been on any Queensryche album or the Black Label Society’s Unblackened album.

Here’s the bottom line- The album is a labyrinthe of complexity and is loaded with righteous fervour. It encourages repeat listens without ever overstaying it’s welcome. The only bad thing that can be said is that when you take away the intro, the cover song and the German version of “Detox,” you are only left with seven new songs, but those songs carry a lot of weight and will be their final battlecry.

They also do the band’s legacy proud. Farewell, you will be missed.

Rating: 8/10

-Eric Hunker