Rating:
8.4
Believer - Gabriel
17 March 2009


01. Medwton
02. A Moment In Prime
03. Stoned
04. Redshift
05. History Of Decline
06. The Need For Conflict
07. Focused Lethality
08. Shut Out The Sun
09. The Brave
10. Nonsense Mediated Decay


Holy ticker tape parade, Batman! Look at all these zombie Metal bands!!!

What is going on with all of these older bands making a comeback these days? It seems they came out, recorded some albums, got married, had babies, quit making music to do the family thing and then a decade or more later return? Maybe it is some sort of midlife crisis or they just got bored being over the hill. Nonetheless, Believer is back with a new album 16 years after their rather...um...shall we say "interesting" release, Dimensions.

Hailing from the tiny township of Colebrook, PA in the United States, Believer were a rather innovative Thrash Metal band who used not only many technical elements but symphonic notions in their music. Mixing in some intriguing Progressive musical parts with deep philosophical and spiritual lyrics, Believer were pioneers in their own time. So here we are with a brand new release which holds up well after such a long hiatus.

Gabriel is one of the few albums these days that is very progressive and very raw at the same time; reminiscent of Death in some aspects. The guitars, for the most part, have a "punch you in the face" attitude going for them. Seriously, I felt like an Emo kid in a Slayer pit when listening to this record! The vocals are just as harsh and unpolished without crossing into Death or Black Metal. A stripped down "do more with less" mentality is applied to the drumming here while the bass sounds rather simplistic (or at least what I can hear from the almost inaudible mix). Layered within the prime core of the music are some interesting symphonic elements as well as some surprising guest musicians.

Probably the biggest guest name on here for younger metalheads is Howard Jones of Killswitch Engage fame. The older crowd will be happy to hear that Rocky Gray from Living Sacrifice lends his skill to the album as well. The other guests on this album help to add a little more dimension to the overall sound and feel of Gabriel without distracting listeners form the main band.

Hopefully James Hetfield will hear this album and understand what "going back to your roots" actually means. After a sixteen year break Believer is back and just as strong as they ever were. The air of the old band is still here without recycling the old albums and mixing in just enough modernity to understand that this is a new era for these guys. With overall solid and fascinating playing, challenging lyrics about Christian faith and a handful of cool guests, Gabriel will delight old fans of Believer and optimistically create some new ones as well.

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Production: 7
Spiritual Relevancy: 6


Band profile: Believer
Album: Gabriel


 


written by Dane Train | 18.05.2009


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



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Marcel Hubregtse - 18.05.2009 at 02:40  
Mmm, up to now (only a couplee of listens though, to be honest) it hasn't delighted me. Yes, I am an old fan of Believer. I used to really dig Sanity Obscure and Dimensions but NOT the atrocious thing called Extraction From Mortality. I interviewed them back in 1990/1 just after the release of Sanity Obscure and saw saw them live as well here in my own hometown, plus they were great guys to boot. Really nice and hospitable.
K†ulu - 18.05.2009 at 22:53  
Agree on most things, and using the word "raw" is just hitting the bull's eye. I don't know about the "inaudible mix" though. The production is really weird, but I wouldn't call it bad. I somehow thoroughly enjoy this album although it's far from perfection. Why 6 for spiritual relevancy though? Because the lyrics are rather obscure?
Dane Train - 18.05.2009 at 23:50  
Written by K†ulu on 18.05.2009 at 22:53

Why 6 for spiritual relevancy though? Because the lyrics are rather obscure?


It wasn't that they were obscure, but they just didn't hit me that hard. A 6 is still pretty good in my book. To archive an 8 they have to be really powerful and a 9 or ten basically would make me get on my knees and cry. An album like Testimony or Storm the Gates of Hell would both be about a 9 and something like Save Me From Myself around an 8.
Dangerboner - 19.05.2009 at 03:24  
Is the spiritual relevancy attribute being totaled to the final rating?
Dane Train - 25.05.2009 at 05:02  
Written by Dangerboner on 19.05.2009 at 03:24

Is the spiritual relevancy attribute being totaled to the final rating?



Yes it is.
Dangerboner - 25.05.2009 at 23:19  
Written by Dane Train on 25.05.2009 at 05:02

Written by Dangerboner on 19.05.2009 at 03:24

Is the spiritual relevancy attribute being totaled to the final rating?



Yes it is.

Why would you rate a band on lyrics? That's like me docking points on a Cannibal Corpse album for not being gore enough.
Dane Train - 25.05.2009 at 23:32  
Written by Dangerboner on 25.05.2009 at 23:19

Why would you rate a band on lyrics?


Why not? For me the lyrics are just as important as any other factor in the music. Especially for bands that are Christian bands, the lyrics are a huge part of their evangelism and reflection.

What is more, when I am rating the spiritual significance of any album it is a reflection of how the lyrics and music (in connection) move my soul. Some bands may have some really great lyrics, but the music doesn't convey the feeling as well as it could, or the music could be outstanding, by the lyrics are the normal CCM lyrics I hear all the time.
Dangerboner - 25.05.2009 at 23:44  
But you do realize that means nothing to the non-Christian audience, right?
Dane Train - 25.05.2009 at 23:48  
Written by Dangerboner on 25.05.2009 at 23:44

But you do realize that means nothing to the non-Christian audience, right?


So you speak for all the non-Christians out there now? No you don't. How do you know if it means nothing to non-Christians? Maybe there are non-Christians out there who are interested in that aspect of it?

Besides, for those who are followers of Jesus Christ, that rating might mean a whole lot to them. For many Christians the lyrics are far more important than the music itself.

If you don't like the fact that I have a Spiritual rating on the album then just ignore it.
Dangerboner - 25.05.2009 at 23:51  
But that could go against the music, which bothers me. I'm an atheist, but I still don't think it's right for me to rate a Funeral Mist album on how much anti-Christian lyrical content is in the music because it moves and influences my personal perspective.
Dangerboner - 25.05.2009 at 23:56  
As a reviewer, you shouldn't be biased, and boosting a rating just because it praises Jesus Christ isn't credible at all. I'm not trying to act like an asshole, but if someone docked points off an album just because the lyrical content doesn't stick to the reviewer's personal belief, it's just wrong.
Dane Train - 25.05.2009 at 23:58  
Written by Dangerboner on 25.05.2009 at 23:51

But that could go against the music, which bothers me. I'm an atheist, but I still don't think it's right for me to rate a Funeral Mist album on how much anti-Christian lyrical content is in the music because it moves and influences my personal perspective.



Then let it bother you. I am not writing reviews to make everyone happy. I am reviewing Christian albums and feel that the spiritual relevance of the album is just as important as every other aspect of the music.

As an atheist, I doubt you would understand it at all. If you're interested in which Christian albums I feel have a strong spiritual tone to them, then read my reviews on those album. If you don't care, then don't read them. I honestly fail to see what your problem is with me writing about the spiritual aspect of a Christian album.
Dangerboner - 26.05.2009 at 00:02  
Sorry, but biased reviews are exactly the problem with metal today. Ready my double post before yours. I read the blabbermouth reviews all the time, especially the ones released on the same label, and they already have a false opinion on the band before they even listen to the music itself.
Dane Train - 26.05.2009 at 00:12  
Written by Dangerboner on 25.05.2009 at 23:56

As a reviewer, you shouldn't be biased, and boosting a rating just because it praises Jesus Christ isn't credible at all. I'm not trying to act like an asshole, but if someone docked points off an album just because the lyrical content doesn't stick to the reviewer's personal belief, it's just wrong.


I am by no means boosting a review because it praises Jesus. Did you read my review of Impending Doom's latest album? They're a Christian band and I gave the album a rather poor rating. I am by no means proclaiming an album because it is a Christian album no more than I would put down an album for being anti-Christian.

As a Christian minister reviewing Christian bands who write music about their Christian faith, the spiritual relevance is greatly important to my reflection.




Written by Dangerboner on 26.05.2009 at 00:02

Sorry, but biased reviews are exactly the problem with metal today. Ready my double post before yours. I read the blabbermouth reviews all the time, especially the ones released on the same label, and they already have a false opinion on the band before they even listen to the music itself.


Aren't all reviews bias in one way or an other?
jupitreas - 26.05.2009 at 00:24  
I'd like to support Dane in this particular argument. All reviews are biased and all reviews are subjective by definition. A review that pretends to be objective is just duping the reader into buying into the illusion that the review is some sort of omni-potent authority on all things metal, which is simply not true. Instead, a reviewer has the obligation to provide his subjective opinion on an album, while at the same time backing it up with research and a clear voice. A review is actually just that, an opinion, albeit well researched. Dane is a Christian minister, it would actually be more deceiving of him not to mention his unique way of looking at music at all. Instead, he makes it very clear where he is coming from and you can then more easily draw your own conclusions regarding the album.
Dangerboner - 26.05.2009 at 00:26  
No, I didn't notice a review on the new Impending Doom album, but I'm going to read it because I have them both. It doesn't matter though. If you lower or raise an album's rating based solely on your personal belief, it's wrong. I don't give a shit if a band praises Satan, Jesus, or their fucking left nut sack, if the music is good and the lyrics don't obviously deter away from the overall quality, it shouldn't matter what they talk about. I'm honestly not trying to act like a jerk, but how would you feel if I reviewed an album and boosted the rating just because it talked about worshiping Satan? You would discredit it, I'm sure.

I could give an album a 10/10 if it praised Jesus and the music was perfect, and I'd give an album a 10/10 if it praised Satan and the music was perfect.
Dane Train - 26.05.2009 at 00:57  
Written by Dangerboner on 26.05.2009 at 00:26

I could give an album a 10/10 if it praised Jesus and the music was perfect, and I'd give an album a 10/10 if it praised Satan and the music was perfect.


And that is your opinion for an album. Can you just accept the fact that you and I look for different aspects in music? If you have a real problem with me rating albums the way I do, bring it up with the staff.
Dangerboner - 26.05.2009 at 02:07  
MUSIC, right.... not lyrics. What if Dream Theater made your favorite album but talked about lubricating Satan's asshole with their tongues? Would you honestly feel different about them? I doubt it.

lol why would I bring anything up with the staff? Don't take this shit too personally dude.
Dane Train - 26.05.2009 at 02:08  
Written by Dangerboner on 26.05.2009 at 02:07

MUSIC, right.... not lyrics. What if Dream Theater made your favorite album but talked about lubricating Satan's asshole with their tongues? Would you honestly feel different about them? I doubt it.


Actually, I would. If their lyrics were about that I wouldn't listen to them.
Dangerboner - 26.05.2009 at 02:13  
Damn, so I don't have an argument then. Well, what if the Spice Girls praised Jesus rather than using their typical pop lyrics. Would that boost a potential rating from you? I would hope not, since their musical relevance is almost zero.
Dane Train - 26.05.2009 at 02:37  
Written by Dangerboner on 26.05.2009 at 02:13

Damn, so I don't have an argument then. Well, what if the Spice Girls praised Jesus rather than using their typical pop lyrics. Would that boost a potential rating from you? I would hope not, since their musical relevance is almost zero.


I think you are missing the whole point of my Spiritual Relevance rating. It is only applicable for Christian bands. Even Dream Theater, who have many songs relating to the Christian faith, would not be judged using this rating.

Even if a band praises Christ in their lyrics doesn't mean I will boost their rating. I am rating how well their lyrics come across.

Are the lyrics deep and convicting? Do the words make me think more about my own faith? Are they relaying the feelings of the writer?

or

Are the words the same sort of bland CCM lyrics that flood that market? Are these the "Jesus is my girlfriend" songs that make me sick and are counter productive to Christianity?


If the Spice Girls made a Christian album I would have a hard time judging it because I know very little about that type of pop music. If the lyrics were really powerful then it would gain high marks from me on that front. But if the song is reminiscent to "You Are The Air I Breathe" then it would detract from the rating.
Dangerboner - 26.05.2009 at 02:42  
But Christian metal shouldn't be based on their spiritual relevancy. Zao preaches about God nonstop but they smoke and do drugs. Hypocritical? Yes. Do I give a fuck? No - I like some of their music so I don't judge them on their lyrics. Does my liver fucking hurt? Yeah but I'm not going to buttfuck any deity IMO.

What about foreign bands? Lots of Scandinavian bands get praised all the time, but their lyrics are fucking stupid as fuck. It just doesn't matter. Sure, go ahead and mention how you feel about the lyrics in your review, but don't base your final paragraph or rating on the fact that you agree with their spirituality. It's just not right.
Dane Train - 26.05.2009 at 02:49  
Written by Dangerboner on 26.05.2009 at 02:42

But Christian metal shouldn't be based on their spiritual relevancy.


Why not? Isn't that the reason they write music? I have talked with dozens and dozens of Christian Metal and Hardrock bands and they have all expressed the notion that the lyrics are the most important part of their music. It is the spiritual aspect of the music that they try and highlight. If the spiritual aspect of the music wasn't important, why call yourself a Christian band?
Dangerboner - 26.05.2009 at 02:56  
But then you see them taking drugs or surrounded by groupies, or covered in tattoos. Would you do that in front of black jesus? No. Maybe if I found a band with great music and lyrics with true integrity I could possibly appreciate them more, but I doubt it.

As for your question, I really don't know. Why would you show yourself as a hypocrite and preach about a religion you obviously don't follow closely? Just because you sing about being Christian doesn't mean you are one.
Dane Train - 26.05.2009 at 03:03  
Written by Dangerboner on 26.05.2009 at 02:56

But then you see them taking drugs or surrounded by groupies, or covered in tattoos.


Could you give me some links proving evidence as to which bands are taking drugs and sleeping with groupies? I don't know of any. And as for tattoos, I have several myself. What does having ink have to do with being a Christian?

Written by Dangerboner on 26.05.2009 at 02:56

Would you do that in front of black jesus?



Black Jesus? What are you talking about?

Written by Dangerboner on 26.05.2009 at 02:56

Maybe if I found a band with great music and lyrics with true integrity I could possibly appreciate them more, but I doubt it.


I am not sure what you are talking about? Have you ever talked to the guys in Demon Hunter, Living Sacrifice, Becoming the Archetype, Bestir or PROOF? Do you know any Christian Metal bands personally?

Written by Dangerboner on 26.05.2009 at 02:56

As for your question, I really don't know. Why would you show yourself as a hypocrite and preach about a religion you obviously don't follow closely? Just because you sing about being Christian doesn't mean you are one.


All Christians are hypocrites. I know I am.
Dangerboner - 26.05.2009 at 03:18  
No, I don't have flash anymore so I can't go to any band website I remember interviews with the very mainstream Christian metal bands, like The Agony Scene (who claimed not to be Christian after they became popular... didn't Evanescence do that?) and As I Lay Dying. I have a DVD of the Zao dudes smoking weed lmao, then preaching about how Jesus is their savior. It makes no sense xD. Lyrics shouldn't count!!!! Regardless, if you knew that a God made you, would you show off your tats and smoke cigarettes in front of him? Of course not.

Base a metal band on their music rather than their personal life and viewpoints. If their lyrics really make their music better for you then that's awesome, but don't downgrade a professional review just because their spiritual relevancy doesn't match yours.
Mr. Doctor - 26.05.2009 at 23:20  
Written by Dangerboner on 26.05.2009 at 03:18

don't downgrade a professional review just because their spiritual relevancy doesn't match yours.


Even though I completely agree with you. there's this tiny thing at the end of his review "it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff."

So it's not a professional review, not in my opinion anyway. It's just an opinion and even though I really dislike the fact about lyrics giving influences to the overall rating... I have to respect his opinion.
Dane Train - 27.05.2009 at 19:12  
Written by Dangerboner on 26.05.2009 at 03:18

Base a metal band on their music rather than their personal life and viewpoints. If their lyrics really make their music better for you then that's awesome, but don't downgrade a professional review just because their spiritual relevancy doesn't match yours.


For me, the lyrics are part of the music. Look, the bottom line is this:

  • I am a Christian.
  • I am a Christian Minister.
  • I listen to Christian Metal bands.
  • I head up a Christian Ministry for Metalheads.
  • I review Christian albums.
  • I look at these albums differently than I would a non-Christian album.
  • I am not downgrading or upgrading an album because it does or doesn't match my world view.
  • BitterCOld - 27.05.2009 at 20:03  
    The way i see it, most lyrics are immaterial. they are, for my reviews zero-sum and seldom taken into account.

    if a band writes lyrics or use lyrical themes that really leap out and impress me, i will raise the overall score of the album accordingly. (See my review for Queensryche's "American Soldier")

    if a band writes absolutely horrible lyrics that are clearly and easily understood when listening to the music i will detract from the score accordingly (see my review for Manowar's "Hail to England")

    if a band writes absolutely horrible lyrics that are completely incomprehensible because of either the mix or the vocal delivery, see "zero sum" and they don't impact the rating at all.

    as far as Pyro's concern over Dane's incorporation of Spiritual Relevancy into overall rating, the great thing about our system is you can easily just discount it. if you are simply concerned with the music and don't care about the message (be it Christian, Anti-Christian, or in praise of the Great Prophet Zarquon) you can simply refactor his opinion of the album based upon his scores for songwriting, performance, originality, and production.
    Dangerboner - 28.05.2009 at 01:39  
    If an album's spiritual relevance is low, then you are downgrading it because you are putting that into the average score. Your bulleted points really aren't helping your case though.... that's just admitting that you should have some sort of disclaimer (other than the standard MS one) that "if this band doesn't share my personal ideals, they aren't as good".

    It's just personal opinion, I guess. The content of the review is more important than the rating anyways, and there's no point in arguing if your mind is already made up.

    BitterC0ld's last post is obvious common sense and is what I would expect from most reviews. I discount many MS reviews anyways, along with most other reviews in general, because from what I've seen, websites don't want to dissuade labels from giving them promos, thus receding them from growing.
    Marcel Hubregtse - 28.05.2009 at 02:19  
    Written by Dangerboner on 28.05.2009 at 01:39

    ...because from what I've seen, websites don't want to dissuade labels from giving them promos, thus receding them from growing.


    What kind of bullshit is this? Labels don't give a shit if they get bad or good reviews, they just want their albums to be reviewed.
    It is clear you have been brainwashed by a certain ms member who claims his reviews are being censored.
    Dangerboner - 28.05.2009 at 02:22  
    I thought Herz's Mumakil review got revoked because it pissed off Relapse and MS didn't want to lose a label that big. Is that not right?
    Marcel Hubregtse - 28.05.2009 at 02:34  
    Written by Dangerboner on 28.05.2009 at 02:22

    I thought Herz's Mumakil review got revoked because it pissed off Relapse and MS didn't want to lose a label that big. Is that not right?


    Nope, Relpase didn't even read it at all (not entirely true btw). Staff pulle dit off becausethe review was apparently way too inappropriate.
    Someone of Relpase Europe whom I know quite well did read it (as far as I know the only one who did) he didn't mind the review at all and he even asked me why it was pulled off the site. I told him the reason and he could understand that as well.

    I don't know what weiord kind of shit you have been told but there was never even a slight chence of us losing a label such as Relapse. ANd even if there was we wouldn't give a flying fuck.
    BitterCOld - 28.05.2009 at 02:46  
    What? and risk cutting off our supply of 10 song releases spliced into 99 track disks?
    Dangerboner - 28.05.2009 at 02:58  
    Inappropriate? Like the Metal: A Headbanger's Journey "song by song" review, which aren't even allowed, but was accepted? No one told me anything, but I know first hand from the webzine I used to write for that I rated Massacre Records too low too many times that they slowly stopped giving us stuff, even though our hits didn't decline. Still, I'm glad that wasn't the reason for which I assumed that review got revoked, but I think we're getting a little off topic...

    What I said was wrong though because a label probably wouldn't do anything about a guest review (and now I know, an official review), so I should have thought about that.
    Marcel Hubregtse - 28.05.2009 at 03:07  
    Written by Dangerboner on 28.05.2009 at 02:58

    Inappropriate? Like the Metal: A Headbanger's Journey "song by song" review, which aren't even allowed, but was accepted? No one told me anything, but I know first hand from the webzine I used to write for that I rated Massacre Records too low too many times that they slowly stopped giving us stuff, even though our hits didn't decline. Still, I'm glad that wasn't the reason for which I assumed that review got revoked, but I think we're getting a little off topic...

    What I said was wrong though because a label probably wouldn't do anything about a guest review (and now I know, an official review), so I should have thought about that.


    About the Headbanger's Journey reiview read what Jups commented there.
    Dane Train - 28.05.2009 at 07:33  
    Written by Dangerboner on 28.05.2009 at 01:39

    "if this band doesn't share my personal ideals, they aren't as good".


    It seems you have totally missed the entire point of my spiritual relevance rating for Christian albums. It has nothing to do with a a band sharing the same personal ideals as me. This rating only applies to Christian bands. I would never use this on a Slayer album, or even a Dream Theater album (who have three Christian members, write many songs about Christian faith, and Mike Portnoy is also the drummer for a Christian rock band too!) because those albums are not "Christian" albums.

    As a Christian, I look for albums that will help me with my spiritual walk. Hearing songs that talk about Christian faith and the struggles of it are very important to me. There are many Christian Metalcore bands I listen to just because they are Christian and I get something out of their lyrics and not their rather boring music (mind there are some Christian Metalcore bands who I think are amazing!) that I don't get from secular bands. True, there are some secular bands that have some songs that I have used during worship like Anthrax's "Safe Home". There are many other Christians who look for the same thing as I do and that is why I include that rating. For me, the spiritual relevance of a Christian album is just as important, if not more important than the guitar tones.

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