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According to their page here on the Metal Archives, Louisville, Kentucky's Bride has enjoyed a long and illustrious career, beginning in the early 80s as Matrix before changing their name in 86. They've apparently explored a variety of styles including rocking heavy metal in the vein of mid-era Judas Priest, blues rock, and even mallcore. But from what I can gather via internet buzz and fans of the band, everybody promptly stopped caring about the band sometime around when the 80s ended. One of the band's major defining features is their heavy Christian bent in their lyrics and personal beliefs, which frankly I don't think should mean a damn thing, but has of course made them a target for both sides of the equation. There is a small contingent of metal fans lining up to suck any band's dick as long as they sing about the right things, whereas the majority refuse to even piss in the same washroom with them. And I'll be the first to admit, the Christian connection is the only reason I'd ever heard of Bride in the first place.
With that expository nonsense out of the way, I'm sure most of you handsome and clever folks realized that this album was released in 1988, firmly during the time when the band seemed to have some clout and before they strayed away from heavy metal. This works out well, as I can safely say that Bride rocks very, very hard. With that whole Christian elephant in the room, I'm sure they probably get compared to the dorky dorks in the crappy dorky Stryper band a lot, but Bride are really on an entirely different echelon of performance and songwriting than those spandex clad dork dorkers. Bride's brand of distinctly dated metal showcased on Live to Die recalls albums like British Steel and Inside the Electric Circus, meaning it has an underlying essence of sleaze whilst remaining firmly hard rocking and very clearly a product of the 80s. The production is very indicative of the time period as well, with the slightly reverbed vocals and sharp guitars (which perform some excellent trad metal theatrics, by the way).
But to me, the main draw of this band is Dale Thompson. This man sings like how Zakk Wylde plays guitar. He throws in these nut shatteringly cool falsettos at every viable moment, and nearly 50% of all non-viable moments as well. He spends all of his time behind the mic solidly giving a negative amount of fucks, there's such an attitude on display that I can't help but completely adore. His "main" vocal style is this mid range snarl that brings to mind Rob Halford's mid range moments, and the brilliance in his performance lies in the fact that he interjects this with an earth fissuringly awesome wail as often as he can. I can't stress enough how goddamned great his shriek is, it's high pitched, fucking powerful, throaty, and full of strong vibrato. Best of all you can hear in his voice that he is loving where he is. The band is obviously serious about what they're doing, but he's clearly having a blast, and that added childlike enthusiasm adds so much to the charm of the unchained performance. I seriously can't get over them, quit reading my review and go find a way to get your hands on this album, the vocal performance is so lacking in restraint but manages to be so super cool that it doesn't matter in the slightest. Imagine Warrel Dane from the first Sanctuary album, except every song is either "Battle Angels" or "Termination Force".
The songwriting also manages to stand out in its own way, though obviously taking a back seat to the manic vocal performance. There's a nice variety on display, with fist pumping anthems like "Hell No" and "In the Dark", to fast, speed metal monsters like "Here Comes the Bride" and "Live to Die", to half ballad rockers like "Out for Blood" and "Heroes". I get a vibe recalling Jag Panzer, 80s era Priest, and early W.A.S.P. from Live to Die, and as anybody with half of a functioning brain knows, that's certainly a great thing. Everybody has a pet band or album that ended up being completely lost in the flood of any particular genre (like how Timeghoul and Vomit Sodomy was overlooked during the extreme metal boom in the 90s) that they use the internet to pimp the hell out of twenty years later, and tonight it's Bride's turn. Fans of 80s heavy metal owe it to themselves to give a listen to "Hell No" and "Here Comes the Bride" at the very least. Very, very entertaining release with one of the most fun vocal performances I've heard in eons.
Originally written for http://lairofthebastard.blogspot.com/