Saturday, February 22, 2014

Taker-It Is Finished

Roxx Records

When this promo landed in my mailbox it took me awhile before I remembered where I had heard the name Taker before. Searching through my old memory banks (which are overdrawn by the way!) didn't help so I hit the web to find out more about this Virginia-based act. Lo and behold here I find out that the band appeared on Regency Records' 1988 compilation "East Coast Metal" alongside acts like Believer, Rage Of Angels and The Lead. Taker contributed the songs "Yesterday, Today and Forever" and "Living By Faith" to said compilation which were recorded at Morningstar Studio with Doug Mann (Attitude Adjustment, Believer, Living Sacrifice, Vio-Lence, Sacrament, Rage Of Angels, etc.) sitting in the producer's chair. It had been a very l-o-n-g time since I last heard that compilation so hearing those two cuts again was actually more like hearing them for the first time (and for the record "Living By Faith" is I.M.O. the better cut of the two) and, in the context of this anthology, it's really rather fascinating how wide-ranging this Christian band's sound was. Oh, I didn't mention that this U.S. metal band was Christian? I would have thought that the art-work and then the album's title (the last words that Christ said before he died on the cross) would have been enough of a hint, but if not then yes, Taker was a band that wasn't afraid to wear their faith on their sleeve. Lead at the time by Kevin Potter the band, which was first formed in 1987 and ended up stepping into the studio in May and June of the same year with engineer Mark Miley to record their first demo (presented here as the first four tracks with tracks like "He Is The Light" having a kind of Dio meets Judas Priest vibe), was never shy about their faith and now (some 27 years after they first started cranking out their tuneful take on hard and heavy traditional metal) pretty much everything that this band had laid to tape has been collected here for the enjoyment of fans and newcomers alike! Re-mastered by Sid ‘Ysidro’ Garcia (Deliverance, Ultimatum, Crossforce) this ultimate collection starts at the band's humble beginnings (the 1987 demo which, incidentally, is also known as "Matthew 11:12") and closes with the group's "Blood" demo from 1989. You can see the complete track-listing for this well-assembled compilation below, but needless to say Taker covered a lot of ground from start to finish. By the time the band appeared on White Throne Magazine's "White Metal Invasion" compilation (a recording which really should be re-mastered and re-released if anyone at Roxx Records is reading this!) with "Look Into His Eyes" they were firing on all cylinders. Falling into the grey area known as "hard & heavy metal" Taker (seemingly) combined the likes of Judas Priest, Dio, Ratt, (early) Accept, Dokken, Kiss and U.F.O. and in much the same way as fellow Christian acts like Bloodgood and Saint they provided proof that white metal could be loud and proud while still serving Jesus! With smoking guitar solos courtesy of Robert "PJ" Bussy (Attic Symphony, ex-Armageddon, ex-Crown of Thorns) the band had a hot sound that should have propelled them all the way to the top. For whatever reason though other projects called and the band ended their all-too-brief run with 1989's "Blood". By that point Rob Kreiner had stepped in as vocalist and while the rest of the band remained the same (besides Bussy there was bassist Dan Wilkinson of Attic Symphony and Armageddon fame and drummer Charlie Osterhoudt) the slight change seemed to push Taker towards more of a (all things from Rainbow and Black Sabbath to solo, self-named band) Ronnie James Dio direction with the end results speaking for themselves! Even if "The Message" doesn't quite hold up (execution-wise) with some of Taker's earlier material it's still a bit of (dark) rocker and sure does seem as if it's nodding it's head in appreciation towards the likes of Metallica! Along with the heavy hitter (lyrically and musically) "Blood" it's a reflection of how creative this is act was and it makes this collection quite the recommended product! All told "It Is Finished" is another home-run for the folks over at Roxx Records and for collectors of Christian heavy metal this one seems like a no-brainer!  Now, as I promised earlier, here is the complete track-by-track listing for Taker's anthology and I just have to say that I really enjoyed this collection and that the intricate nature of "Into The Throneroom/A New Song" is the perfect way to end things!

TRACK LISTING FOUR SONG DEMO [MATTHEW 11:12] (May/June 1987) Recorded at Glass Hand Studio. Falls Church, VA, engineered by Mark Miley
1 - Open Your Heart
2 - He Is The Light
3 - Yesterday Today and Forever
4 - 11 O’ Clock News

Rehearsal Song (Recorded Live) in between the release of the ‘Matthew 11:12’ EP and before the Image Records Recording Sessions in preparation for the opening slot on the very first White Cross East Coast tour. Note: Mark Miley filled in on drums for Charlie Osterhoudt (FALL 1987)
5 – Living by Faith

IMAGE RECORDS RECORDING SESSIONS (NOVEMBER 1987) Recorded at Alive Studios, Harrisonburg, VA, Produced by Dorn Repport

6 - Look Into His Eyes (Released on ‘White Metal Invasion’ compilation)
7 - He is the Light (Re-Recorded)
8 - Open Your Heart (Re-Recorded)

EAST COAST METAL (1989) Recorded at Morningstar Studio, Produced by Doug Mann
9 - Living by Faith
10 - Yesterday, Today and Forever

BLOOD EP [FIVE SONG EP - FEATURING ROB KREINER ON VOCALS] (SUMMER 1989) Recorded at Bias Studios, Springfield, VA
11 - The Measure
12 - Blood
13 - Overcomer's Anthem
14-Into The Throneroom/A New Song

14 - Into The Throneroom / A New Song

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