The first album by the legendary Barnabas gets the remaster treatment from Retroactive Records. Hear the Light finds Barnabas experimenting with various sounds, but always pointing towards the heavy metal heavy weights they would later become.
Title: Hear the Light (Legends Remastered)
Label: Retroactive Records
Time: 10 tracks/34:42 min.
Barnabas was one of those bands that just had a special "something" that set them apart from the pack. Sure, you could point at individual contributions like the killer guitar work, pounding drums, intricate bass work, talented songwriting, or soaring vocals... but they still seemed to surpass many other bands that also have all of that. Somehow, the combination of all the parts made a special whole that the lucky few that have heard them through the years have really latched onto.
Rumors of re-issues of Barnabas' five albums have swirled for years, but they came to be late in 2017 through the tireless efforts of Retroactive Records. Each album will be reviewed in order, starting with the debut Hear the Light from 1980 originally on Tunesmith Records.
Hear the Light is often described as the sound of a band still finding its footing in style and songwriting. Much of that is true, but don't let that description sell you short on this album and skip it. The style does dip into punk and blues rock at times (and there are a few almost misfires in songwriting that will have disappeared by the time they hit their classic albums), but this is still a quality hard rock/borderline metal album. This quality is obvious from the killer riff that opens the album with "Savior." The next song ("There's a New World Coming ") is probably the closest they get to punk, and probably the closest they come to a misstep in song writing. But don't let that fool you, because the heavy metal awesomeness of " Operator Assistance" is next - a track that totally rips your face off and takes no prisoners. This is followed by what I refer to as a gothic rockabilly tune that serves as a great balance to the riffage before it - "Little Faith." Some might see it as a bit out of place, but I love the balance it brings. "He Loves You" and "B.C." bring the rock back, while "Playin' for Him" is a keyboard heavy song that is more on the rock than metal side. "No More Blues" is (obviously) a blues rock tune that is pretty good, but needs a bit more convincing guitar leads to pull it off. "Father of Lies" returns to more of the rollicking rockabillly-esque music, while "It's Up to You" close up with a hard rock jam session.
The re-issue itself is high quality total package that finally gives this album it's due. The sound was re-mastered from vinyl (as the source tapes are long gone), but the end product was well balanced to not sound like an old record playing through your speakers. The sound on each song as well as the individual instruments really shine. The booklet is full of lyrics, essays, and band pictures. A few more details would have been nice - like why are there two different covers and some band photos with less band members than others? Most fans know this is because the album was re-issued a few years after it's initial release with a new cover - and not all of the same band members were still in band. Also, the guitarist for this album is only mentioned in the essay and not in the credits, but the historical details provided in this essay make it well worth the read. Overall, this is a high quality re-issue of the first album by a band that was just getting warmed up...
(continued in the Find Your Heart a Home review)
3.5 of 5 of tocks