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  Straight Ahead/Run From the Darkness
Artist: The Daniel Band
label: Retroactive Records
Length: 19 tracks/73:49 minutes

The Daniel Band is undoubtedly the Rodney Dangerfield of Christian rock.  With exception to some critical praise, the boys just haven't garnered much respect or appreciation, in general.  And that's a shame, because the Daniel Band is arguably one of the pioneering forces behind '80s Christian metal.  

Historically, they debuted in 1982 with On Rock, a recording that, despite its arena rock hooks and heat, surprisingly attracted limited attention.  The sophomore Straight Ahead (1983) and Run from the Darkness (1984) featured on this disc continued to deliver the hard rock goods.  Perhaps that was the problem.  The Daniel Band was metal before metal was cool.  Sure, you had the bluesy Rez Band, the punk rock of Barnabas, or the classic rock of Jerusalem in the early '80s, but few blew open the stacks like this Canadian foursome.  It was full-throttle, over-the-top rock.

I mean, Stryper's piercing signature vocals are legendary, but Dan McCabe's high-pitched wails were among Christian metal's first primal screams.   And Whitecross' explosive lead guitar solos are certainly memorable, but Tony Rossi's fiery fretwork and classic power chords were years ahead.  Bloodgood, Shout, Guardian, and Bride would all successfully flex their metal muscles, but it was the Daniel Band that first raised the bar.  With Bill Findlay on rhythm and Matt Delduca providing the backbeat, this quartet rocked the '80s with little fanfare (later the group would add Bill Davidson on bass and Stu Christie on drums).  In the shadows of other leather and spandex metal heroes, the Daniel Band forged forward as forgotten pioneers.  Few today will even recognize their name.

So, I think it's time we give the boys some respect.  Are you listening, Rodney?

This double-CD re-mastered reissue of their second and third classic recordings is long overdue.  Some critics think these two, especially Run From the Darkness, are the band's best work.  That may be.  Lyrically, the message is hardly muddy (unlike much of today's Christian rock):  "Some of you might lose your money/and some of you might lose your wealth/But one thing that Jesus told me is don't you lose your soul in Hell." Simplistic? Sure--reviewers of the time well-noted this fault.  But then again, the Daniel Band was willing to shoot it straight, whether it was pornography ("Lustful Illusions") or temptation ("Don't Give Up") or faith ("Walk On the Water").

To be honest, I didn't listen to DB for the lyrics.  It was their sonic sound and guitar riffs that rifled my soul.  Nevertheless, the band clearly saw their purpose.  "We are not musicians who preach," McCabe once confessed to Cornerstone Magazine, "we are ministers who happen to be musicians, preachers with electric guitars. Exactly. Soldiers with six-strings. Axemen holding forth the sword."

Musically, it's difficult to pin the label on the band.  Who do they sound like?  To be honest, they sound like everyone and no one.  The classic rockers will hear hints of April Wine, Boston, and even the Doobies ( Thank You ).  The metalheads will note nuances of Rush, Ratt, and AC/DC ("Sixteen").  But really, once you cease the comparisons, you find there are no true sound alikes .  The Daniel Band broke the mold.  Heck, they were the mold.

The best part about this double CD is that it captures a moment in Christian rock history that's tragically forgotten by many.  The early '80s was a firing zone for bands who wanted to simply rock for the Rock.   But it wasn't until Stryper (1984) that metal made its controversial grand entry.   And by the time the hard rock sound would rise up and be fan-friendly to the faithful (read:  the CCM industry), the Daniel Band was running out of time (the title of their final 1988 album).  

Of course, there are signs of hope.  In 2001, the Daniel Band did play the Cornerstone Festival.  Could a comeback tour be far behind?  For geriatric rockers like me, I'd love to see it.  That is, if I can get my wheelchair through the gate.

By Rick Chromey
July 28, 2003


Rick Chromey is a professor of Youth and Family Ministry at Kentucky Christian College in Grayson, KY.  His wife and two children continue to tolerate his addiction to collecting music, drinking too much Coca-Cola, and traveling to exotic locales like Boise and Birmingham.   Rick longs to eventually fulfill his lifelong dream of being a DJ for a classic Christian rock station
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