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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 http://www.kvltsite.com