MESSIAH PROPHET - ROCK THE FLOCK (CD, 1984, U.C.A.N.)
NEW CD - FACTORY SEALED REISSUED BY THE BAND.
ANGELIC WARLORD REVIEW
Coming out of the growing Christian metal scene emerging in the mid-eighties following the success of Stryper, Messiah Prophet Band plays a combination of commercial metal and melodic hard rock on its 1984 Morada Records debut Rock The Flock. The guitar team of Andy Strauss and Rob Clark perform capably when at their best, but more often than not their lead guitar work comes across in a manner that is sub par if not uninspired. Please note that this reflects less on the ability of the two and more on their lack of experience and the necessary time in the studio. While bassist Dean Pellen puts in a solid showing, the underplayed drumming of Dave Daubert does not always cut it. The strength of the bands sound, however, resides in the first rate melodic flavored but slightly raspy lead vocals of Charlie Clark.
Rock The Flock is held back by a low budget and muffled sounding production job. The rhythm guitar would benefit from a bit of polish, while the lead guitar is not placed high enough in the mix. Likewise, the rhythm section ends up sounding thin and muddy.
The edgy rhythm guitar at the start of the albums title track plays a reduced role in the mix once the song reaches its first verse. After the rhythm guitar returns to its place of prominence, "Rock The Flock" picks up in pace gains for a good hard hitting chorus. An instrumental passage featuring thirty seconds of insipid lead guitar work does not quite make the grade. The lyrics to "Rock The Flock" do not lack in meaning but could have been written better:
Jesus power is here to stay
Rock you into the light of day
Don't stop, rock the Flock
Carried its duration by a restrained mix of rhythm guitar, the watered down melodic hard rock of ?Labor Of Love? is held back by a trite sounding chorus with an all around uninspired feel. The band could have improved upon an instrumental passage limited to several seconds of bland lead guitar work. This song is just plain bad. Its lyrics, on the other hand, are quite good:
You see through my disguises, you see right through me Lord
I can fool the people, but who's the real fool
I know I've got some problems, I need a touch from You
Please mend my broken heart, and let me fight the fight for You
"Try To Understand" commences to an aggressively driven guitar riff before slowing to a steady mid-tempo pace for its first verse. As the song picks up in pace, the same riff opening it returns to back a strong chorus conveyed in a forceful manner. Strauss and Clark are at their best with thirty seconds of top notch dual lead guitar work.
"Travel The Rough Road" is held back by its lack of a noteworthy melody line. Opening at an upbeat tempo, the song slows for its first verse only to pick up in pace for a chorus that I might describe as average-to-good at best. The lead guitar work carrying a minute long instrumental passage does not stand out in the mix as it should. "Travel The Rough Road" is a song about faith:
There is a peace in knowing that you are His
There is something there you can't resist
He gives you power to understand
He gives you light and a helping hand
Introduced to a bluesy mix of rhythm guitar, "Why Must You Run" gradually gains momentum during its first verse until it crests with an abundance of energy for one of the albums stronger choruses. The rhythm guitar takes the song through a minute long instrumental passage. "Why Must You Run" details the need for salvation.
God so loved the world He made, He sent His only Son to save
That whosoever believes would never die
"To The Rock" begins to the sound of a cheering audience that transitions to a combination of pounding drums and vocal harmonies. Once an edgy rhythm guitar kicks in, it quickly drives the song to a chorus with a good catchy hook. I wish the band had elaborated on an instrumental passage limited to several brief seconds of lackluster lead guitar work.
A nice blues flavored guitar riff propels "Answer Our Call" from front to back, the song slowly advancing through its verse portions until it builds and peaks for a powerfully delivered chorus coming across in the form of a battle cry:
Rock on in spite of it all - rock on in spite of them all...
A minute of the albums best lead guitar work only adds to the songs appeal.
The progressive influenced "Riding Out The Storm" is by far the albums strongest track. Taking off fast and heavy, a ton of guitar driven energy impels the song ahead until it transitions to a chorus that continually repeats its title in an anthem-like manner. Thirty seconds of technical dual lead guitar work follows its second chorus before forty-five seconds of rhythm guitar harmony ensues the third. "Riding Out The Storm" deals with patience and perseverance in times of trial.
You feel a problem is all you've caught
You feel confused, it comes with pain...
The Spirit speaks, He holds us back
Other times he tells us to attack
The power comes, as Father wills
Sometimes in waiting we become fulfilled
Due to both the pedestrian feel to its chorus and the fact it comes in at over seven repetitive minutes, "Sing" does not always hold up under continuous play. After the song moves forward to a blend of rhythm guitar and bass, it launches into a sweeping instrumental section featuring an overdone three minute long guitar solo. And while I appreciate it when a band displays confidence in its instrumental sound, the lengthy open air guitar solo closing out the song comes across on the indulgent side.
Rock The Flock showcases the talent of a young and energetic band with a bold and upfront message. The album, however, fails to make the grade due to the fact Messiah Prophet Band at this early stage in its career lacked the needed maturity in the crucial area of songwriting. The songs, with a few notable exceptions, are insufficient in depth and fail to hold up under repetitive and trite sounding melodies. The albums low budget production job only compounds the problem. Fortunately, Messiah Prophet Band returned two years later with a terrific sophomore effort entitled Master Of The Metal in which it displayed 110% improvement.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "Rock The Flock" (3:36), "Labor Of Love" (3:46), "Try To Understand" (4:44), "Travel The Rough Road" (4:08), "Why Must You Run" (5:34), "To The Rock" (3:55), "Answer Our Call" (5:21), "Riding Out The Storm" (4:50), "Sing" (7:09)
Charlie Clark ? Lead Vocals
Andy Strauss ? Guitars
Rob Clark ? Guitars
Dean Pellman ? Bass
Dave Daubert - Drums
Also Reviewed: Messiah Prophet - Master Of The Metal