Album Review :
Heaven's Force - Aggressive Angel

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Band: Heaven’s Force

Title: Aggressive Angel

Label: Open Grave Records

Release Date: 1983 / 2009

Review By: Scott L

Tracklisting:

  1. Aggressive Angel
  2. Slaughter The Beast
  3. Hell Lover
  4. In League With The Priest
  5. Deliver Us From Evil
  6. Heaven’s Force
  7. Second Coming

This was a blast from the past in a lot of ways. Not that I’d ever heard them before.  Or even heard of them before.  First off, it conjured up plenty of memories of my high school days driving my folks crazy listening to Metallica and Queensryche. I didn’t get saved until my first year in college. Second, this is a re-release of 2 demos that actually come from that time period. This is vintage 80’s thrash metal in all of it’s glory. To think that these guys were around for the genre’s inception… and to have never heard of them, seems an injustice. But then, that was a delicate time for the Christian market. And a whole lot of talent fell through the cracks or sat on the shelf until the Strypers and Barren Crosses finally began to pave the way.

Heaven’s Force was one of those bands that could have, and arguably should have, become a household name for long-haired Christian rockers everywhere. But it was just a case of right place, wrong time. They were a 3-piece thrash metal band at a time when Christian thrash was viewed as far too extreme for public consumption. Galloping guitars, gruff vocals interspersed with high pitched glass-shattering shrieks. Think Cirith Ungol meets Voivod. Unfortunately, some things just don’t age as well as other things. So while I can appreciate what they were doing back in the day… the style definitely shows some wrinkles and liver spots when held up against the modern market. But that’s really not a fair comparison, this CD has to be viewed in light of it’s time… and as such… it was well ahead of it’s time.

I’m not sure that I’d put the word out that this is a must buy, but if you’re interested in a glimpse of the genre’s woulda-shoulda past or just a musical connoisseur, than this is one for the collection. I don’t know that the transfer to digital fully showcases these guys. The production is pretty lousy and comes across muddy and low-fi. This is because the music here is being pulled form the band’s original two demo tapes. Not the greatest foundation for crisp sonics. But all in all it’s listenable and the essence is definitely all there.

Lyrically, the 7-song “Aggressive Angel” is pretty much exactly what you’d expect. Tough music used to mean tough message and that’s just what Heaven’s Force delivers. You see kids, back before bands became duped into diluting their spirituality under the guise of being ‘Christians in a band’, Christians used to actually sing about their savior. And the harder the music was, typically the harder the message was… because the bands understood the crowd they were trying to reach wasn’t gonna be reached by some soft-soaped, watered-down gospel. There was a day when the preaching of the cross was still thought of as the power of God unto salvation and bands considered themselves evangelists. And in the early 80’s, Heaven’s Force was ready to lead the way. Consider the song “Second Coming” which says, “forgive us oh one who reigns above / our master / the Lord God / by the sign of the cross / forsake us not / our souls cannot be bought / we’re not fanatics / we’re not fools / we only want what’s right / you speak of Satan’s power / well, you’ve not seen the Lord God’s might / blasphemous ones who laugh and tease / my warning’s aimed at you / Christ is coming back again / take heed, it will be soon”.

The standout track was “Deliver Us From Evil”. It’s a great tune with a compelling message to accept Christ before it’s too late.

Overall: The re-release of Heaven’s Force’s “Aggressive Angel” doesn’t stand up to the current offerings in the market… but it was never supposed to. It’s a glimpse into a time when ‘heavy’ was really only beginning to take shape. And, as such, it totally succeeds. While kinda like watching old TV reruns where you snicker at their retro fashions and furniture, this CD is enjoyable if you’re approaching it from the right perspective. So if you’re up to it… check it out. But be forewarned, it was limited to 500 copies… and the whiplash brace is sold separately. (insert sweet high-pitched 80’s metal scream here)

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