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Artist: Believer
Label: Retroactive Records
Length: 14 Tracks/63:52

Thrash is a captivating genre. Emotionally speaking, it conveys feelings of sadness, anger, and death. What better atmosphere could bands like Believer minister in? The now-defunct group formed in 1986, local to Colebrook, Pennsylvania, and after releasing their first album quickly became recognized as one of Christian metal’s leading groups. Believer released two albums ­ The Extraction of Mortality in 1989, and Sanity Obscure in 1990 ­ before producing their last effort, Dimensions in 1993. Their last offering to the musical world proved a metal classic, and has now been re-released for a limited time. 

“Gone” is a defiant song; siting Revelation 20:12, it speaks of the book of life, opened to judge actions. Believer were masters at molding emotion and developing mood in songwriting. Immediately, the band stands out. The vocals are excellent, well-performed, and not as unpleasant as one might think growling to be. The lead guitar parts, performed by Kurt Bachman, are amazing; unrestrained without being pompous. Jim Winters matches the skill and precision of Bachman in a similar way with his bass guitar. 

A tune atypical to the usual thrash metal, “Dementia,” showcases the band’s musicianship, in particular the percussion of Joey Daub and lead guitars, and ability to seamlessly flow through time changes. Believer also proves a collision of genres, bringing in Scott Laird on strings. As a violin solo carries the major key change, beautiful harmonic guitar leads fall into the soundscapes. Believer are also a group of thinking men; the lyrics of “Dimentia” ponder the philosophies of Freud, Altizer, and Sarte on the existence of God, and compares them with what the Bible says, siting Corinthians 1:19-20.

In “What Is But Cannot Be,” the producer uses some stunning vocal effects to channel the energy of aggression, fueled by the poetic lyrics. In this fourth track, Kurt Bachman proclaims that “Possibility cannot account for actuality,” and that whatever happens “is caused in order to be.” One of the finest and most captivating moments of Dimensions,  “WiBCB” is a near perfect demonstration of Believer’s uncanny ability to write progressive music combining thrash and speed, with thoughtful and intelligent lyrics.

Dimensions contains a miniature suite, entitled “Trilogy of Knowledge,” which contains four songs covering the Fall of Man and the life of Christ. It begins with “Intro: The Birth,” sound effects that begin the suite in a mood of tension. Then we hear Scott Laird, a true member of the group, begin “Movement I: The Lie” with a string melody in an odd key signature. Believer are not a group without surprises. For Dimensions, Laird brought in his sister, Julliana Laird, an opera singer, to add vocals to the "Trilogy of Knowledge." This use of orchestration and operatic vocals adds many dimensions to the world of Believer, writing them down in history as one of the greatest bands in progressive metal. 
“Movement II: The Truth” finds Satan tempting Jesus in the desert. The song depicts Jesus as a perfect Savior, without sin. “Movement III” provides encouragement to believers everywhere. “The Key” shows the wisdom of the Word of God, closing the suite and the album with “put on the armor of God, so when that day of evil comes, you can stand your grounds. 

The remastered version includes three live bonus tracks from their previous two albums, “Blemished Sacrafices,” “The Chosen,” and “Stress.” While the recordings are rough, they are an interesting rarity and give you an idea of the band’s live sound in their early years.

In short, Dimensions is one of the greatest progressive metal albums of all time. Though Believer is long finished, the album serves well to capture a glimpse of their musical legacy.

Tom MacMillan 4/3/2005



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