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Almost enough to make me a believer...not - 75%

autothrall, November 9th, 2009

The list of quality Christian metal bands in the course of metal's history is not long, especially when it comes to the more 'extreme' incarnations of the form (thrash, death, etc). Pennsylvania's Believer are one of the few respectable bands to truly break this mold. Their lyrics have hinted at their convictions without becoming preachy in tone and treating the listener like an imbecile. They are capable of abstraction and intelligence.

Believer produced a pair of pretty good albums in the 20th century: the technical thrashing of Sanity Obscure and the more experimental Dimensions. It's now been 16 years since their last full-length, and for this 4th album they return to the thrash with a progressive influence manifested in the use of synthesizers, adventurous leads and riffs. The band seems to have hardly skipped a beat, and Gabriel is possibly their best effort yet. "Medwton" combines tech thrashing riffing ala some of the late 80s/90s best with hints of chant and Kurt Bachman's venomous vocal delivery. "A Moment in Prime" features some slower grooves with dense bass and spurious sound effects that almost transmute you into another dimension. "Stoned" uses some interesting, swinging riffs and effects. Other great tunes include the pensive and vocally layered "History of Decline". The poetic and sampled progressive piece "Nonsense mediated decay". The morose and unearthly tones of "Shut Out the Sun". And the return to speed and thrash of "Focused Lethality" in which the band intones:

'We are the crazy ones
Hated are we
Crush the false strength
Only we will see
Blood filled eyes
Horor flows with ease
Shut up you fools
Bow on bloodied knee
Increase the pain
Endgame release'

Not so subtle there! But it rocks. The entirety of Gabriel has a nice crisp tone which recalls the tech thrash of late 80s greats like Paradox, Destruction, Mordred, etc. The lead work is intense and the band's use of samples and effects is both complementary and effective to their conceptual style. Whether you agree with the band's message or not, this is an album worth hearing for the fan of progressive, rifftastic thrash metal. Good to see them return and good that Metal Blade has picked this up for release.


Believer's worst album, but it does grow on you. - 68%

Desiple_of_The_Ice25, September 6th, 2009

Believer was always a band I had faith in throughout my life, and I still do. After hearing they would be releasing a new album, I was excited about it. Upon reading a couple of reviews on Believer's album Gabriel, I was indeed interested in checking it out, and I had heard a little snippet of a song or two from it. It sounded pretty cool at the time, and I was very fortunate to have picked up a copy of it.

Before listening to it, I was excited, but I must add there is a bias involved; being that the excitement could be that I was finally able to pick up my first Believer album I could get a hold of. I placed this in the CD player, and it began to play through its course. My first impression after the first track was "man, what a crappy production." The production was indeed crappy, and the album seemed to have no soul- just mindless, heartless jamming.

I wasn't impressed with this one bit, and I felt that this album was devoid of anything special. To be honest, it seems that Believer were settling for mediocrity. I tried listening to it a few times, and it wasn't before long it became more like noise- nothing to grab your attention, but later on, I would discover that it does grow on you.

For me, I did find that as much as it grew on me, it wasn't saying TOO much, but, I was able to decipher a few good riffs, and songs on here. Such as Medwton, A Moment in Prime, and The Need for Conflict. You might also say Focused Lethality is also a pretty good tune. Other than that, there wasn't anything really great on this album, and even those tracks in themselves weren't very great.

You may be asking "why did you give this such a positive grade?" Well, you see, I see this album having potential to grow on me more in the future if I choose to listen to it more. However, I have to add, some of the negatives apart from the bad production, and mediocrity, probably the biggest flaw in all of the album is there is quite a bit of Nu-Metal in here. At first, that was what I thought this was, but you also can hear the thrash. You can literally say that this sounds like Thrash and Nu-metal combined, which probably explains that it isn't the most likeable album.

My sincere hope is that Believer will keep releasing albums, but getting rid of the Nu-Metal in here, because anyone with ears can hear it, and if you really can't stand Nu-Metal, beware of this album, but if you can accept Believer regardless, DO check it out.

In summary: Crappy production, mediocre, and Nu-metal really sucks a lot of the appreciation out of it. I wanted to like it more, but couldn’t (at least not yet). However, it has its moments that shine, and it is indeed Believer, but really, more bad than good with this one. Good songs are A moment in Prime, and the Need for conflict.

Believer - Gabriel - 20%

ThrashManiacAYD, August 28th, 2009

AaAahhahhh make it stop!! The name Believer has appeared here and there in publications for some time now, usually under the dubious 'Christian Metal' section tagged along at the bottom, but believing (no pun intended...yet) they were a semi-competent Thrash band left over from the late 80s I sensed no harm in signing up for review of "Gabriel", their first album since 1993 and fourth album overall. But my God (no Christian pun intended...yet) why oh why did I bother? "Gabriel" is so goddamn (sorry) awful I've had to press stop already this far into the review and during only its 3rd listen because it was making me feel ill.

Where to start? The album cover is some 90's EBM monstrosity, belying a long-lost relic of an era when digital samples were 'cool' and featuring a faux-darkness that wouldn't even scare a spring chicken. The music...urgh Jesus Christ and all that is holy, if all 'Christian metal' is like this there's no hope in hell I'm ever going to see the light. Believer prove during very select moments they can pen a riff, like the first riff in "Stoned" for instance, but this matters not when said needle-in-a-haystack of a riff is squished on all sides by assortments of hideous badly played, badly produced nu-metal inspired stringwork and a bemusing fondness for a mixture of samples that do nothing but confuse and rear their unwanted faces like an embedded video player on a webpage blasting out over the song you were previously already listening to.

Vocalist Kurt Bachman is a Schmier (Destruction) clone - the kind of Schmier vocals in the 21st Century rather than in Destruction's seminally brilliant 80's heyday. If last track proper "Nonsense Mediated Decay" (I'm sure some irony is intended there) isn't the worst song of the year then call me Jehovah and pass that Bible, it's time for me to join the cult. There is no redeeming song on "Gabriel" to make up for the bad, bad moments on display everywhere. "Stoned", the possessor of said 'good' riff is actually the biggest culprit overall of what has made this the worst album I've had to review for Rockfreaks yet. If I don't end this quickly I might stop believing in metal altogether...

Originally written for

You can teach an old dog some new tricks - 85%

gk, April 21st, 2009

Believer first made a name for itself in the early 90s for being a progressive thrash band who very successfully welded their thrash to classical music. In a career spanning three albums, the band wore their strong Christian beliefs on their collective sleeve and managed to deliver one classic release in 1993s Dimensions. After that, everything was quiet in the Believer camp till Gabriel happened this month after a good 15 years break.

Gabriel sees a bit of a change for the band which I guess is natural after such a long break. The music is still technically proficient thrash metal but where in the past it was embellished with a strong classical music flavour, here the band has left the classical bits alone and instead focused on the riffs. There is a fair bit of experimentation and the songs go off into hitherto unexplored territory. A Moment in Prime starts off sounding like Testimony era Pestilence with plenty of thrashing moments till the songs goes off into an acoustic section and ends with an understated violin solo. Very next song, Stoned is a groovy thrash song with some jazzy interplay between instruments and some strange samples happening in the background. Redshift is another great song with plenty of groove and some twisted riffing from the guitarists before it goes off into another spaced out jazzy interlude. This song leads into a strong middle section of the album with History of Decline, Need for Conflict and Shut out the Sun all being heavy thrash songs that are unconventional but also full of fat grooves. In fact, it’s only on the Howard Jones (Killswitch Engage) sung The Brave that the band drops the momentum with Jones’ sounding like a cheap MikePatton copy. It’s a good song ruined by some weak vocals while album closer Nonsense Mediated Decay is some pointless self indulgence of the Mr. Bungle variety and ends the album on a very disjointed and confused note.

Believer has some new tricks up their sleeve this time around. There are plenty of strange electronic samples and little beeps and whistles happening all over this album but it’s all quite subtle and done well. The focus like I already mentioned is on 5 kickass musicians playing some very good music.

With only 2 members remaining from the original line up in the form of Kurt Bachman (guitars/ vocals) and Joey Daub (drums), the band has managed to put out an album that sits comfortably with their older albums. It’s still undoubtedly, the same band but they have some brand new tricks up their sleeve and it mostly works. Fans of the whole technical thrash scene of the late 80s, early 90s would do well to give Gabriel a listen.

Originally written for

Welcome back! - 90%

natrix, March 31st, 2009

I can't believe that anyone hasn't reviewed this album yet, seeing as how it's been quite anticipated.

I'm not too familiar with Believer's past catalog, even though I have Sanity Obscure and Dimensions on cassette. What I do remember, was that Sanity Obscure always just kind of blew over me, despite having some awesome moments like "Dies Irae," and Dimensions was a little shizophrenic as far as ideas. There was just too much going on with both albums, and I think the songs themselves suffered a bit.

I'd say that Gabriel is a really good combination of the two. Most of the songs are centered around a strong main riff or two, and typically go somewhere strange in the midsections. This is really good, because it makes the songs instantly recognizable and memorable. There is even a bit of chugga-chugga groove on here, and simple, grinding down picking sections, but don't let that lead you to believe that the songs are boring; they usually feature some number of different time signatures, and several like the crushing opener "Medwton," feature it as part of their main riff.

My favourites are doubtlessly "Focused Lethality" and "Stoned," both of which have solid straight up metal elements. "Focused Lethality" is fast as hell, a total thrash dream, whereas "Stoned" leans almost in a death metal direction with punishing guitar and double bass work. There are some samples and keyboards jumping out here and there, used sparingly to add texture, and some of them are kind of unsettling, like the goofy orchestration in "Redshift."

And then there's the production. Wow. The guitar tone is blistering and heavy, with a bit of hollowness to give it a bit of a "desolate" feel. Everything else is mixed perfectly, with a nice fat bass tone driving the album along. That was something that I felt the other two albums missed: good bottom end. And that's a really good thing, because a lot of the interplay between the drums and bass is very well done, and actually adds another layer of groove to the music. Kurt Bachman has a really raspy delivery, and comprehensively belts out the lyrics.

The one thing that I really hate is the last track, which is about an 9 minute noise collage, followed by two other "hidden" tracks of outtakes from the album. I find this totally unnecessary, much like Morbid Angel's "bonus" tracks from Heretic. It ends a really strong album on a weak, watered down note. Me not happy.

Yes, Believer is a Christian band, but they sure have tuned that down quite a bit for this album. Instead of having lyrics blatantly praising the Lord and baby Jesus, the lyrics take a more poetic, personal slant on this album, something that will hopefully help them expand their fanbase in the secular scene. I'm sure that there are some inspirational lines in there, but they sure aren't obvious. Hell, this is less religious than the last Type O Negative album! And no, the music sure doesn't sound like gospel, either.

With a new Sacrifice album due in June (Joe Rico plays a guitar solo on here, I must add!), I'd say that post-modern thrash is looking up this year. I'm feeling that this could be an album of the year.