The fourth album by the Barnabas saw the band reaching the pinnacle of their metal evolution. Retroactive Records continues the re-issue train with Feel the Fire, showcasing a band that had finally gelled together and perfected the sonic direction they were shooting for.
Title: Feel the Fire (Legends Remastered)
Label: Retroactive Records
Time: 8 tracks/38:40 min.
When you feature actual red hot melting metal on your album cover, you are pretty much setting up fans with high expectations. But the cover is not the only thing melting when you listen to Feel the Fire. This album represents the culmination of Barnabas' epic quest to perfect their heavy metal sound, burning away the few minor rough spots that Approaching Light Speed produced. This was probably accomplished due in no small part to them being able to keep the line-up from the last album - Nancy Jo Mann, Brian Belew, Kris Klingensmith, and Gary Mann - intact. That was a first for Barnabas. I first heard a Barnabas track on the Heaven's Metal collection, and set out to find anything I could by the band. All I could find was their next, final album in a discount tape bin. It wasn't until the Elefante Brothers put out a compilation of Approaching Light Speed and Feel the Fire called The Gospel According to Barnabas that I was able to hear (most) of these songs. " Prelude" starts the album off with creepy, trippy keyboards that leads into a scorching metal instrumental. The first three songs are really three movements of a mini rock opera of sorts - the second part being "The Dream" - shorter progressive metal leaning song that feels like it is setting something up. That something is the epic third act: "Breathless Wonderment." There is a reason this song was chosen for the Heaven's Metal compilation. Like the first two songs, it begins with keyboards and quiet movements... but then the instruments kick in and leave your jaw on the ground. Following that up had to be hard, so the band decides to go for another keyboard based non-ballad. Again, this was the mid-80s and this could still be done in a metal way. What would have been side 2 jumps out of the gate with the fast and frantic "Feel the Fire," with the band pretty much almost thrashing away before the chorus groove kicks in. "Northern Lights" brings in some progressive metal influences, while "Follow You Up" brings the straight up heavy metal groove. This song was actually first track from this album in the jumbled track list of The Gospel According to Barnabas - and with the massive riffs in this song you can see why. It is hands down a better opening track than many bands ever had - and it is the next to the last track on this album. The last track is pure artful metal bliss and a great album closer: "Suite for the Souls of Our Enemies (Part 1 - Hammer & Sickle)"
As with the other re-issues, the sound and packaging on this one are stellar. But just take a look at that center spread full cover picture of the band. They didn't just play metal, they looked the part as well. This re-issue is the full meal deal with the booklet - lyrics, pics, credits, and a great write-up to tell you all about the album and the band. And that cover - you just don't get more metal than that cover art. Of course, all of that led to controversy as many Christians didn't think bands should be so "of the world" as Barnabas was at the time (did they bother to listen to the lyrics?). But that comes into play more on the next (and sadly last) album.
(to be continued in the Little Foxes review)
5 of 5 of tocks