Believer - _Gabriel_
(Metal Blade Records, 2009)
by: Jackie Smit (8 out of 10)
I've been sitting on Believer's comeback opus for the better part of nine months now -- I'm useless, I know. But I'll admit that the band's first album for sixteen years has had me pretty dumbstruck, and judging by the myriad of sweeping references to Tool that have filtered through the media, I'm clearly not alone.

In case you're wondering, aside from a shared fondness for turning musical convention on its head, _Gabriel_ has about as much in common with anything recorded by Tool as Prince Charles does with Brock Lesnar. Even there the similarities are tenuous, and a more fitting comparison may be Zero Hour's last heavy prog-a-thon, _Dark Deceiver_. Like Zero Hour, Believer's thrust is decidedly masculine, at its core fuelled by nervous, often aggressive energy. Its sound is knowingly spacious, you'd presume to give the kitchen sink's worth of eclectic dabbling that's been tossed at each song a chance to breathe over Kurt Bachman's thrashing riffs.

Not that they play their entire hand from the off, mind you. If "Medwton" starts us off in a fairly straightforward fashion, then the sweeping layers of electronica on "Redshift" signal the start of more than a few twists across the album's narrative. So much free reign is afforded their creativity, in fact, that by the time "Nonsense Mediated Decay" rolls around, Believer's collective weirdness has seen them get ahead of themselves just a tad -- a shame given their demonstrated ability to bring the ruckus when they focus on rocking.

Still, it doesn't take away from the fact that _Gabriel_ is helluva comeback, if slightly over-ambitious. Heathens fearing sermonizing of Mortification-like proportions needn't fear either, as Believer seem more interested in UFOs than they do god-bothering. Not that it should matter, of course; plenty of staunch devil-worshippers would, I'm sure, love to have their names attached to a record offering this level of challenge and quality.


(article published 4/1/2010)

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