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EMERALD- Armed for Battle (Reissue)

Emerald, along with the band Apostle, has the distinction of being one of the most talented Christian metal bands of the golden era that remained unsigned throughout their musical tenure of the late 70's through the late 80's. The band centered around guitarist Dave Enos, with many members coming and going, the most famous lineup being the one to produce the 6 song ep Armed for Battle in 1987 with Enos, his brother in law Larry Philips on vocals, Roger Dale Martin on bass (who would later go on to fame with Vengeance Rising), and Kyle Morett on drums.

Despite looking like refugees from the glam metal scene, this is traditional, classic metal all the way. The title cut shares a common theme and styling as Messiah Prophet's "Heavy Metal Thunder." The highlight would have to be "Teenage Suicide," which starts out like a ballad and then belts out a heavy rhythm while Enos solos away on lead guitar, for a mandatory headbang and air guitar fest. Philips' voice soars strong and melodic, even setting up a dark mood on "Winds of Doom." In addition to the original 6 song ep, there are 2 unreleased songs, and 2 early demos. One bonus is "Traitor," which seems to be a different version of the single that ended up on the California Metal II compilation. I prefer the Cali Metal version, but still a powerful song with in your face vocals. "Look to the Stars" adds some bgv's to the mix. Bonus song "Vengeance is Mine" is the heaviest of these tunes, sounding like it was recorded more recently, and possibly with a different singer. The final 2 demos "King of the Universe" and "Battleground" from 1984 sound a little rawer, but are still both barnstormers. The production lacks a bit on this album, but does not dim my appreciation for this stellar slab of molten metal, and only hints at the greatness that could have been if these guys had been signed, as clearly they should have.

So glad to see this rare gem (funny, huh?) get reissued. It would be well worth the price of admission just for the original 6 songs, but the extra 4 songs, pictures, and band commentary are just icing on the cake. You snooze and you'll lose on this reissue (also on vinyl). This disc scores the elusive highest score reserved for those classics that have passed the test of time and lost no efficacy. (No Remorse Records) 5 out of 5 stars

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