Albums [Melodic / AOR] » [DEAD LINK] Arsenal (US) - Armored Choir (1990)
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    Arsenal - Armored Choir (1990)

    Year : 1990
    Style : Hard Rock , Christian Heavy Metal , Female vocals
    Country : United States
    See following posts for a working link!

    Initially, the band consisted of Christine Steel on lead vocals, Wayne E. Scott and Michael Joshua D. Miller on guitar, Kandi Slaughter on acoustic guitar and bass, and Dave Calianno on drums.Arsenal recorded several demos. Christine Steel began calling record labels and sending out demos. One demo, containing the songs “Reaching for the Truth”, “Golden Love” and “Don’t Let It Pass You By", began circulating throughout the Christian music industry and got the band noticed.In the mid to late 80's, Arsenal's songs, “Message of Love” and “Stand Strong” were released on two compilations; one entitled "Metal Mercenaries" and the other entitled "East Coast Metal". A third sampler, entitled "Classic Metal", was released shortly thereafter.They eventually signed with Regency Records and after their full-length "Armored Choir" was released in 1990, the band experienced some member changes. JD Miller left and pursued other musical interests, founding Prophecy, while Arsenal hired two new guitarists; Brien DeChristopher on rhythm guitar and Kevin Pike on lead guitar.The band also recorded a five-song demo called "Peace Child" (over a longer period of time around 2000-ish, according to Christine Steel). The contained music went into a more blues-based, classic hard rock direction and later Arsenal started incorporating this sound into their music. Demo recording lineup:Christine Steel - Vocals, Kevin Pike - Lead guitar , Brien DeChristopher - Rhythm guitar , Kandi Slaughter - Bass , Stan Arthur - Drums.
    The decade of the eighties was renowned for the outpouring of “white metal” bands that hit the scene following the commercial success of Stryper. While the likes of Barren Cross, Bloodgood, Bride, Deliverance, Guardian, Sacred Warrior, Saint and Whitecross represented many of the more noteworthy, several lesser known female fronted groups made their mark as well. Barnabas, featuring the searing lead vocal abilities of Nancy Jo Mann, released two relatively obscure hard rock albums in Hear The Light (1980) and Find Your Heart A Home (1981) before following up with the more metal based sounds of Approaching Light Speed (1983), Feel The Fire (1984) and Little Foxes (1986). Ransom is another group worth mentioning. Showcasing the gritty vocal delivery of Lisa Faxson, Ransom recorded its self-titled debut in 1991 and its sophomore effort, Soul Asylum, a year later. Scarlet Red, a glam metal outfit fronted by Danis, put out the polished sounds of its one and only album Don’t Dance With Danger in 1989. Florida based Arsenal featured perhaps the most talented female vocalists of the era in Christine Steel. Recording a three song demo made up of the songs “Reaching For The Truth”, “Golden Love” and “Don’t Let It Pass You By”, Arsenal followed up by placing the tracks “Message Of Love” and “Stand Strong” on the East Coast Metal compilation in 1988 prior to releasing its full length debut Armored Choir in 1990.What Arsenal brings to the table on Armored Choir is an eighties influenced blend of melodic metal, commercial hard rock, AOR and melodic rock. Comparisons to other female fronted acts of the era such as Vixen, Scarlet Red and Ransom would not be unfounded as would Stryper, Guardian, Angelica, Dokken and a host of others. The album finds the band displaying a penchant for composing a quality hard rock number, the likes of “Turn Around”, “Someone Believes In You”, “Take It Away” and “You’re No Good For Me” all standing out as a result of their guitar driven energy and momentum. But Armored Choir, in the end, however, proves an inconsistent listen in that for every choice track such as “Armored Choir” and “The Valley” (two of the heavier pieces here) and the infectious “Bishop Of Souls” there is a “Come Back To You”, “Forever Yours” and “The Candle… The Flame” that forces me to hit the skip button.Christine Steel, for a lack of better words, steals (no pun intended) the show as a result of the breathtaking range to her delivery. Nothing less than a first rate talent, she displays the needed amount of emotion on ballads such as “Forever Yours” and “The Candle… The Flame” while exhibiting significant dynamics on more up-tempo tracks along the lines of “Armored Choir”, “Turn Around” and “Bishop Of Souls”. J.D. Miller handles all guitar duties, nailing some bluesy leads on “Someone Believes In You” and “You’re No Good For Me” and cutting loose in more ardent fashion on “Take It Away” and “The Valley”. Bassist Kandy Slaughter and drummer Dave Caliano round out the rhythm section. Armored Choir could be improved upon from a production standpoint. Yes, the sound here is quite polished, but, on the other hand, the lead vocals end up placed a bit forward in the mix while the rhythm guitar deserves to come across in a heavier and edgier sounding manner. The end result is a slightly watered down effort that, in my opinion, fails to do the bands true sound the justice it deserves.“Turn Around” begins the album to several seconds of open air rhythm guitar before progressing through its first verse at a resolute mid-tempo pace. Breaking out in spirited fashion, the song culminates as it obtains a chorus highlighted by Christine’s abundant vocal delivery. A hard hitting riff backed by some bluesy leads gets “Someone Believes In You” underway. Driven ahead by a crunchy wall of rhythm guitar, a smooth sounding environment is established as the song obtains a pristine chorus with an overriding pop flavored feel. Miller highlights a rousing instrumental section with more of his bluesy licks and chops.“Armored Choir” ranks among the albums heavier and more noteworthy tracks. The song advances strong and steady from the onset, an abundance of guitar driven initiative urging it ahead at an upbeat tempo to an energized chorus giving rise to a deep and dark sounding ambience. Miller returns to decorate the scene with his fierily done lead guitar work. After getting off to a fine start with three good hard rockers, the album disappointingly, falls a bit flat for the pedestrian sounding melodic rock of “Coming Back To You”. Lackluster is the overall feeling I get here, reflected in the songs dearth of a notable hook and restrained rhythm guitar sound. I tend to hit the skip button here.I also do the same with the ballad “Forever Yours”. The song slowly moves through its first and second verse to an acoustic guitar, picking up in pace upon obtaining a chorus that comes across on the drab and colorless side of things.The hard rocking “The Valley”, on the other hand, rates with the albums best. Introduced to an ominous keyboard solo, the song takes off to a furious storm of rhythm guitar, determinedly driving ahead until a blues soaked chorus with a hook of the refuse to go away variety is obtained. Miller’s fluid soloing matches the songs energetic aura.Commencing to a drum solo before taking off to an edgy rhythm guitar, “You’re No Good For Me” advances resolutely until it acquires a chorus in which a firm and unwavering environment is put into place. Several seconds of bluesy lead work backed by vocal harmonies shores up an energetic instrumental section.“Bishop Of Souls” opens slowly to several seconds of keyboards only to take off to a blend of rhythm guitar and pounding drums. The song proceeds to impel through its first verse in a striking manner, breaking out with a plethora of appeal for a chorus with a huge, catchy hook. Great song that is by far the albums best.“Take It Away” fades in before transitioning to several seconds of impassioned riffing. Settling down to a crunchy rhythm guitar upon obtaining its first verse, the song makes a stalwart statement upon reaching its brief but spirited chorus. Several seconds of rhythm guitar opens an instrumental section highlighted by a brazen guitar solo.“The Candle… The Flame”, the albums second ballad, proceeds slowly to an amalgamation of guitar and keyboards until acquiring an emotionally charged chorus focusing on victory in the life of a Christian.Similar to “Forever Yours”, however, in my opinion this one also lacks somewhat in the areas of energy and inspiration.After putting out Armored Choir, Christine regrouped with the new guitar team of Kevin Pike (lead) and Brien DeChristopher (rhythm) and recorded a five song demo that found her moving in a musical direction that can best be described as blues based hard rock with classic rock sensibilities. Heavier at times and more acoustic laced in comparison to Armored Choir, the demo brings to mind Kinetic Faith era Bride but replace Dale Thompson with a searing female lead vocalist. Yes, the music here is that good in reflecting the significant growth and maturity made by Christine and company in terms of not only their musicianship but abilities in the studio as well. (The demo showcases a sound which is much more balanced and professional.) What stands out most about the project, nonetheless, is the incredible guitar work of Pike and DeChristopher – both acoustic and lead of a bluesy and fiery variety – in addition to the fact that all five tracks are carried out past five minutes, which helps lend to their depth and long term lasting value. All in all, the overall feeling I get here is that I wish Christine had recorded a full length album along this line. In other words, I want to hear more. And that is a very good thing.The acoustic guitar at the start of “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down” continues to lead the way through its first verse as Christine steps forward with her copious voice.A stretch of bluesy lead work highlights a piece that can best be described as moving, stirring and emotional.The album continues in an acoustic based direction on “House Of Mercy”. Gradually flowing through its first verse in a tranquil manner, the song does not pick up in pace until just prior to reaching a worshipful chorus shored up by a trace of accentuating rhythm guitar.An aesthetically done acoustic guitar solo carries the extent of a well timed instrumental section.“Dreams” also begins slowly to an acoustic guitar, a graceful scene upheld during its verse portions until an edgy rhythm guitar cuts in and fortifies a driving chorus giving rise to a heavy and driving feel. More bluesy lead work brings out the best in one of the demos heavier and more aggressive tracks. Christine’s passionate vocal performance helps put this one over the top.“Missionary” kicks in at an upbeat tempo, tapering off upon reaching its first verse as a forward wall of rhythm guitar pushes it ahead hard and heavy. Decelerating for a passage carried by a quietly played guitar, initiative is gained by the song for a spirited chorus delivered in perfect, high octane fashion. An ethereal guitar solo carries an extensive instrumental section. Introduced to several seconds of open air rhythm guitar, “Man Made Religion” is compelled through its first verse by a pounding riff prior to obtaining a hook filled chorus sustained by ardent vocal harmonies. A rollicking instrumental section features a stretch of accomplished lead guitar work.
    Line Up:
    Kandi Slaughter Bass, 12 String Acoustic Guitars
    Dave Calianno Drums
    Christine Steel Vocals - See also: ex-Scymitar
    J.D. Miller Guitars
    1. Turn Around 03:35
    2. Someone Believes in You 03:42
    3. Armored Choir 03:44
    4. Coming Back to You 02:35
    5. Forever Yours 03:50
    6. The Valley 03:17
    7. You're No Good for Me 03:31
    8. Bishop of Souls 03:59
    9. Take It Away 03:28
    10. The Candle... The Flame 03:31
    + Video "Armored Choir" (Audio Video)
    + Video "Live at the Fire Escape" (Rare Live Video)

    Last edited by RunningWild on 10 Jan 2020, 14:04, edited 2 times in total.
    Reason: link dead again
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