Believer - Sanity Obscure
Roadrunner Records
Technical Thrash Metal
8 songs (37:49)
Release year: 1990
Believer, Roadrunner Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Taking a huge step forwards with their second album, Christian Thrashers Believer began to live up to their potential here. It’s a dense, heavy listen – the guitars are churning slabs with just enough melody to keep this from becoming Sludge Metal, and whilst Bachman’s voice has improved, sounding like a sort of nasal, older Kelly Shaefer here, he’s still perched right on top of that line between ‘individual’ and ‘odd’. Imagine Dave Mustaine with a higher voice and less of a... well, Daffy Duck tone, and you’re nearly there.

What matters, though, is that you quickly get used to him and can concentrate on the rather excellent guitar work. On first listens, the tracks do sound very similar indeed, individual only by the acoustic intros and whatnot that marks most of the experimentation, but once you’re actually listening to the technical bursts of riffing that come from nowhere it’s hard not to be impressed. The likes of Nonpoint are tighter than Chuck Billy in a pothole, and twist and turn wonderfully without ever actually taking you anywhere. It’s still a great ride, however, and sets up the less single-minded Idols Of Ignorance wonderfully. Believer were clearly pretty skilled by this point, but were still quite shackled to the Thrash tradition, and whilst you’re rarely likely to hear Thrash better-played than this, you can’t help but wish that the band would transcend the genre and head off into spacey progsville once in a while.

As seen from the artwork, however, Believer were clearly setting their sight on bigger things than mere Thrash Metal, and there are several moments on Sanity Obscure where this becomes obvious. There’s a lengthy intro to Stop The Madness which features a sample of someone snorting a line of something and then flatlining almost immediately (drugs back then clearly were extremely dangerous things) but the Thrash attack that follows more than makes up for the moralising. The song that people know is Dies Irae (Day Of Wrath), the operatic opening going on far longer than you’d think and meshing wonderfully with the Thrash when it kicks off halfway through, Thrash riffs and violins working far better together than they should.

Looking at Sanity Obscure as an album in its own right rather than one between two eras of a band, it’s a great listen. Once you’re used to its particular style, it’s easy to allow the waves of deep riffage to wash over you, the little experimental moments becoming the highlight landmarks in a sea of green tech-Thrash riffing. Even U2 cover Like A Song isn’t completely dreadful, although the vocals are a far cry from Bono’s work on the original (better) song. Ultimately, Believer here created a pretty good album, although it takes a few listens to realise that. Fans of Tech-Thrash will get a lot from it, although it’s not quite perfect.

Killing Songs :
Wisdom’s Call, Nonpoint, Idols Of Ignorance, Dies Irae (Day Of Wrath)
Goat quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Believer that we have reviewed:
Believer - Gabriel reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Believer - Dimensions reviewed by Goat and quoted 89 / 100
Believer - Extraction From Mortality reviewed by Goat and quoted 72 / 100
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There are 4 replies to this review. Last one on Tue May 26, 2009 1:07 pm
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