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ZION- Thunder from the Mountain 2.0

Sioux Falls, South Dakota's Zion was a christian metal band from 1981-1992. Predating many of the pop metal bands of Christendom, like Stryper, Whitecross, or Holy Soldier, Zion sonically resembled Kiss, with driving hard rock guitars, hooks aplenty, bgv's, and memorable choruses. They were the first signing for Image Records and become the indie label's flagship brand. In 1988 Thunder From the Mountain was the band's sole full length outing, producing multiple hit singles and charting for several years afterward.

Zion pulled no punches with their faith. "He Loves You" clearly presented the gospel. It also produced the quote on the back of their shirts: "I'm sick of hearing these lies Saying Hell is OK It's not the truth. It will burn you night and day." On a funny note, when I was growing up, our pastor's son would wear his Zion shirt and sit up in the front pew of the church. Of course, you couldn't read the whole shirt from behind him. All you could see was "Hell is OK" in big letters! "Sold You A Lie" warned of the dangers of giving into peer pressure. I always thought it was about sex, but the newly added dialogue mid-song hints that the focus could also be drugs- therefore any sin that entangles and drags you down.

Far from some of the bubble gum pop that metal bands would spew out towards the end of the MTV era, Thunder From the Mountain is remembered for the wall of guitars that the band built their hooks on, and remastering has only given the beefcake steroids. Look out world! Even the album's ballad "Is It A Crime" lays on the lead guitar nice and thick. Thirty years later, songs like "Who Pulls the Strings," "Kick in the Gates," "Is It a Crime," and the monster closer "Less of Me" stay burned into the gray matter, like the grooves on a record- (this is available on cd and lp for the first time. )

So what's new about this version? I'm a firm skeptic about remastering. It rarely makes a difference to me, although my colleagues might argue different. Thunder From the Mountain 2.0 is noticeably improved. there is a boost in bass and a number of guitar parts that remained buried in the mix on the original have risen to the surface. Have I mentioned the guitars! New dialogue on "Sold You a Lie." New song "The Big Fall" doesn't exceed its classic neighbors, but it's nice to hear some unheard bonus content. The only song that wasn't remastered is "Less of Me" and that song was already perfect in its original form. The cover is the same, just with different color hues. The band playing on the mountain top is somewhat obscured now. The cd is housed in a flimsy gatefold mini lp digipak, which is my sole complaint.

Overall, the original already being a classic, this release only improved upon it. The shame was always that the album, as great it was, was Zion's sole contribution to christian metal. The band resembled the style of Kiss, and even NWOBHM legends Tygers of Pang Tang, while singer Rex Scott would later go on to fame with west coast band X-Sinner, sporting a distinctive AC/DC vibe. Pick this classic up again or discover it for the first time! (4.5 out of 5 stars) Image Records LLC

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