Believer
Gabriel


4.0
excellent

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
March 12th, 2009 | 151 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: After sixteen years Believer are back with the strongest technical thrash of their career.

Long time fans might not agree with me, but I’m glad this band broke up when they did. I’m glad because a look at their progression from one album to the next seems to imply that they were headed for disaster. Here was a band whose foundation in technical thrash was quickly eroding in favor of unfettered grand ideas. This was a band that, by their final album, was delivering complex lyrical ideas based on philosophy and religion and combining it with increased musical technicality at the expense of heaviness. The album even featured a twenty-minute song composed of female operatic vocals, thrash growls, extended violin solos and dealt with the life of Christ (including direct quotes from the bible). Don’t get me wrong, the album was really good but where do you go from there besides up your own ass? Judging from the musical progression from one album to the next, the album following Dimensions would have been one of the most convoluted, pretentious albums of the nineties. Again, I’m thankful they broke up.

I’m glad they broke up because they had sixteen years to consider the direction they were heading and were able to deliver the strongest album of their career in the process. In the time since Dimensions they have dropped a lot of the extraneous bull*** that had started to clutter the music. Gone are most of the annoying sound-effects as well as a lot of the classical elements including the opera vocals. Instead, the songs on Gabriel deliver the heavy thrash riffs of Sanity Obscure and the technicality of Dimensions in equal doses without sacrificing either element. This entire package is delivered with a crystal clear production that is better than anything the band managed in the nineties. Of course, taking sixteen years between albums also means that most are probably unfamiliar with the back-catalog, so at this point all comparisons to past albums will cease.

Believer has always played fast-paced thrash composed of heavy, groove-oriented riffs with complex rhythms and beats fronted by a high, spoken-word rasp similar to Atheist’s Kelly Shaefer. This album basically builds on that but it’s apparent that great care was made to make sure that it didn’t sound dated as well. While the tracks all feature the kind of chunky riffs that have been a thrash-staple for years, they’re interspersed with modern sounding progressions, pace-changing musical interludes, as well as a subtle layer of samples and industrial sounds. Even a song such as, “Focused Lethality”, with its reliance on a thrashy main riff still manages to avoid sounding dated by including supporting riffs that are heavy but have a modern touch. That is really where this album shines; in its ability to deliver the thrash fans would expect, but with modern enhancements that will keep it from being dismissed by the current generation of metal fans.

The other area it shines is in its ability to remain fresh by always including little extras such as backing piano, laid-back solos, clean guitar parts and groovy bass-lines. It’s this attention to detail that sets it above a lot of what is coming out lately. If I have one real complaint about the album, though, it is concerning the song, “The Brave” which features Howard Jones of Killswitch Engage. I’m not going to try to theorize about why things went wrong but Howard’s clean vocals and the melody itself are just horrible. His clean singing during the verses just doesn’t fit the song and the only salvation is when he and Kurt Bachman trade growls on the choruses. Their contrasting styles (Kurt’s high rasp and Howard’s deep growl) sound excellent together and it only makes me wish they had maintained that vocal style throughout the song.

It seems ironic that the bands that really appear to be bringing about quality, unique music right now are the ones that have members well into their thirties or forties (Believer, Cynic, Pestilence, Atheist, etc), but it’s true. As odd as it might sound, this album is actually a breath of fresh air for a metal community that is becoming increasingly stagnant. With Gabriel the band has managed to bring back that old-school thrash sound, but also mix in a large dose of technicality and originality while still sounding very current. The question now remains to be seen whether new listeners will welcome the band or arbitrarily dismiss them as their older brother’s (or father’s) metal. Hopefully it’s the former, and with that I say welcome back guys, hopefully you stick around for awhile.



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user ratings (66)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
March 12th 2009


16054 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'll admit I had never heard these guys before I got the promo for this album. After I listened to it I had to go back and get their ninties releases. Anyone that likes the reccomended albums should check this out (and Dimensions too).

Go to their Myspace page and check out "Focused Lethality" from this album.

www.myspace.com/believerband
www.myspace.com/believermusic

kingsoby1
Emeritus
March 12th 2009


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

pretty decent. i'll have to check out the album.

edit: holy poop, a band we might agree on

This Message Edited On 03.12.09

Willie
Moderator
March 12th 2009


16054 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I don't think that has ever happened. I've noticed that of the bands we both rate we're usually at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Avirov
March 12th 2009


1206 Comments


I hate metal with a passion but... Focused Lethality is cool. I'll have to listen, I suppose.

StrizzMatik
March 12th 2009


3210 Comments


Technical thrash, hm? Must check them out.

On the flip side, you should REALLY listen to the new Propagandhi if thrash is your thing.

Digging: Lagwagon - Hang

jingledeath
March 12th 2009


7104 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

getting asap

south_of_heaven 11
March 12th 2009


5436 Comments


I think I used to have their debut but it didn't impress me sooooo yup :/

MisterBeefy
March 12th 2009


244 Comments


Will definitely be checking this out. Since had never heard of the band Cynic until there 2008 release Traced in Air, and now there my favorite band. So yeah, awesome review Willie

Alien Six
March 12th 2009


81 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Definitely checking these guys out. Thanks for posting this, been looking for a new metal release to check out and this might very well be it.

ares
March 12th 2009


15 Comments


I might check this out, seeing as I've enjoyed Dimensions.

Trivia: the music teacher at my high school was the violinist on Dimensions.

Willie
Moderator
March 12th 2009


16054 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

On the flip side, you should REALLY listen to the new Propagandhi if thrash is your thing.
I read the review and it caught my attention and it's definitely going to be investigated this weekend.
I think I used to have their debut but it didn't impress me sooooo yup :/
I hope you're joking Their debut was released way back in 1989. Every album after that has progressed in leaps and bounds. If you heard their third album (especially Trilogy of Knowledge) you probably wouldn't even know you were listening to the same band.
Trivia: the music teacher at my high school was the violinist on Dimensions.
To me, that should give you extra incentive to check out that album because he does a damn good job. Also his wife or sister (I'm not really sure, I just know they have the same last name) does all the soprano vocals.

fireaboveicebelow
March 12th 2009


6837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Dimensions was pretty cool so I'll get this sometime

Willie
Moderator
March 12th 2009


16054 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well, holy shit. There is someone here who is familiar with them aleady. I'm interviewing them Wednesday (it's scheduled anyway), is there anything you want to know?

gaslightanthem
March 12th 2009


5209 Comments


review rules band are okay but not my thing

BallsToTheWall
March 12th 2009


44713 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Which album has soprano vocals, Dimensions? I guess i'll check that out first. Ace review regardless, not sure if i'll have time to listen to this this weekend.

Digging: Reverend Bizarre - Return to the Rectory

Willie
Moderator
March 12th 2009


16054 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, the final song on Dimensions is called "Trilogy of Knowledge" and it's split into a few different parts. It has soprano vocals and violins and it's just over 20 minutes long. It's pretty good, but don't ignore the rest of the album because it's good too.

Relinquished
March 12th 2009


25299 Comments


Never heard of Believer, but if those are the recommendations, then I should really get this.

Willie
Moderator
March 13th 2009


16054 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The band have just released another song on their Myspace called "Stoned". This song is one of my favorites from the album. Although my favorite is definitely "History of Decline".

Anyway, so now there is "Stoned" and "Focused Lethality" on their Myspace page.

www.myspace.com/believerband

ares
March 13th 2009


15 Comments


To me, that should give you extra incentive to check out that album because he does a damn good job. Also his wife or sister (I'm not really sure, I just know they have the same last name) does all the soprano vocals.

Ah, I didn't even realize that. Myspace confirms her as his sister. I will definitely check this out, I like the tracks that have been posted.

Willie
Moderator
March 13th 2009


16054 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is an awesome album and worth checking out but your music teacher isn't on this album very much and his sister isn't at all... for that you definitely need Dimensions.



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