Before STRYPER unleashed the “Yellow And Black Attack” on the world in 1984 to critical acclaim and commercial success, the mainstream music scene was generally unkind to Christian Rock and Metal acts. The Canadian Christian Rock scene was particularly desolate, seeing as it didn’t even exist before 1980. That year, the DANIEL BAND arrived on the scene, and their demo...changed very little. Even as STRYPER went on to sell millions of records in the States, DANIEL BAND only achieved moderate success on the Canadian charts and failed to break into the American mainstream. It’s a damn shame, because the band’s sound was solid as they come. Apparently someone at Retroactive Records agrees, as they’ve reissued the band’s 1982 debut, “On Rock,” with two bonus tracks.
Reportedly, DANIEL BAND was never interested in playing “bars and clubs,” and it’s reflected in their sound: these guys were born to fill arenas. Their hard-hitting sound is reminiscent of two of Canada’s best Arena Rock bands of the time: APRIL WINE and TRIUMPH. Indeed, “On Rock” is filled with reverb, often simulating that live arena echo. They also incorporate a few light Prog elements in a few songs, which is evocative of Canadian Prog masters RUSH.
Musically, these guys are very tight, playing straightforward early ‘80s Rock that’s both loud and incredibly catchy. The crunchy guitars, courtesy of Toni Rossi and Bill Findlay, constantly drive the music forward; indeed, their work on “Never Again” anchors the entire song in a huge way. Rossi’s lead work is also outstanding, whether it’s a blistering speed-of-light solo like on “In The Sky,” or an infectious little interlude like on “You Don’t Need The Blues.” The secular listener should know that, much like STRYPER, the Christian message is omnipresent, but it never gets in the way of the stellar instrumental portions of the music, and the vocal melodies themselves are always top-notch.
“On Rock” is certainly a diamond in the rough; any fan of TRIUMPH or APRIL WINE should definitely pick up this reissue, as it’s a top-notch Classic Rock album. Those turned off by its heavy Christian message are missing out on a collection of solid arena anthems topped off with just enough Prog to keep things interesting. The two bonus tracks are, unfortunately, the weakest points of the album, so owners of the (now probably quite rare) vinyl might not have enough of an incentive to upgrade to compact disc. Still, great Canadian Rock from a bygone era.
(Online January 16, 2011)