Every once in a while you get an album whereby you can listen through its interity without skipping or fast forwarding through tracks. To start off there are some fairly well known participants on this release, well at least for this old coot that is. If you have not had your head buried in the sand, the names Joshua Lory, Jim Chaffin, and Skot Shaw should be familiar sounding to you, especially in the Christian alternative, punk, gothic, metal and Industrial scene. Do bands like, LSU, Mike Knott, Crucified, The Blamed, Deliverance and Leper ring any bells? Well according to me if you have not heard any of these bands listed, or perhaps one of these individuals mentioned then dude you have been living in a closet, and a really dark, dank one. My friend the only advice then is that you need educating, because part of the appreciation of this album, is knowing where these guys come from, who they are and what they have managed to achieve each in their own right on a musical level.
So what’s happening here? Well on September 18, 2020, out of Santa Cruz, California the full length release entitled “Annihilate The Adversary” will be released by the Fortuna, California, based punk band Cast The Dragon. It is a mix of Dark, brooding punk rock with a hint of gothic elegance woven throughout 15 blistering tracks. Joshua Lory’s baritone vocals interplay with anthemic guitars, haunting keyboards and punishing drums. Uncompromising lyrical content focused on keeping God at the center of all things through Jesus/Yeshua our Messiah. The band’s full tilt sound is reminiscent of The Damned, TSOL, Misfits and Scaterd Few. Again get yourself educated on these other bands too, as they are not just sound comparatives but also quality of playing comparatives on this album. The album cover art done by Nick Abraham reminds me in a way of some of the art work that came out for a few mid 80’s thrash and speed metal bands and I am sure for some very conservative folk might seem a little bit out there for them to swallow, yet for me the picture is a representation of the content within, and the album deals with a lot of issues and topics that in turn with the correct mobilization can “Annihilate The Adversary”.
We are introduced to the album with the frantically paced, “Days of Noah”, reminded me a little of something off The Dead Kennedy’s – Bedtime for Democracy album. Also what a way to open up the album by leading in with Micheal Keaton’s classic schizophrenic movie line, “You wanna get nuts”! Out of Batman. Sort of a pre-cursor to the onslaught about to rapture your face. Chaffin does a superb job of keeping the intensity of the song together through his drums. Haha the second track, “W.I.T.C.H.E.S” will probably raise some eyebrows on the title of the track from the conservative blue hair brigade. Though pay attention to the lyrics…and part of the chorus will sum up the crux of it,” Wolves in the Church Halls Eating (the) Sheep, hunting them down is for the Meek, the spell they cast on you got your head in the sand, stand up for your creator the Great I Am”.
The thing is for me it is nice to listen to an album that does not lyrically beat around the bush as a Christian release. Also great this is not another Christian pop punk release, not that I have anything against Christian pop punk, it’s just refreshing to get to hear some ‘heavier’ Christian punk that is not pandering to the commercial masses. In some ways, “Annihilate The Adversary” reminds me of Scaterd Few release, “Sin Disease”. Actually “Sin Disease” is a yardstick more than a comparitive of sorts for me when evaluating and album like this one from Cast The Dragon. Also how cool to have a contributing guest artist like XL throwing down some lead guitar for the song, adding some more credible weight to an already very credible cast of musicians and talent.
Oh I really like, “Through The Black”, reminds of The Deadlines meets Mistfits, its short and sweet, great drum intro and in a sort of rockabilly way I can see myself cruising down in my T-top I don’t have, whilst this is blaring out a 8 track tape stereo. Also Skot Shaw sauces the song with delectable organ maneuvers. “Kill All The Nephilim” picks up the pace a bit, again retaining the short quick jab of a song philosophy that seems to be the pattern of this release. It’s cool, as it means a guy like me who struggles with paying attention, actually listens to the song in its entirety without a finger on the skip button, and I so love me some Old Testament punk rock! Lol. “Archangels” Brings Joshua Lory’s baritone vocals to the fore, for me the vocals lead the music on this one and musically reminding me a little of LSU. The driving rhythm is sweet, and organ and vocal style give the song a great moody feel to it.
Oh yeah let’s get a pogoing on, “It’s Supernatural”, add some lounge moshing, and you have a possible broken coffee table and an unimpressed wife staring at you. The bass intro is sick! Up to this point the album retains consistency in its execution, and delivery. I think the trick here to me is the songs are to the point, so it’s barely gives you time to consider even getting bored of them. “Stop the division, Time to unite” from the lyrics of the song, is slightly poignant but relevant to the times we living in. “This Love” again someway reminding me of LSU or Dead Artist Syndrome. The song is somewhat haunting in a romantic way, if that makes any sense. I am sure the Goth’s reading this will get what I am saying, okay, moving on….
“While The Heathens Rage” is basically for arguments sake the half way mark, again Joshua’s lyrics don’t mince words, “The “Leaders” gettin’ freaky at Bohemian Grove plotting our demise for N.W.O. are you paying attention to what’s going on around or just zombie’s to their sound?” Funny when I listened to this track, though not entirely similar reminded me of Idle Lovell. Again introducing us to the faster side of Cast The Dragon, “Scream Out His Name” is a song I can relate too, as a number times I have woken in a cold sweet from a dream that had spiritual roots to it. “…woke in a cold sweat from fighting demons in my dreams I come out victorious”. “… if you want darkness to leave – scream out His name” Words of truth and empowerment through Christ. “The Father hears your cries; the light pours from you with the whisper of the Christ.”
“Screen Trolls”; well if Jello Bafria was a Christian, would he sound like this? “Screen Trolls” has a Spoken Word feel to it, with Paulism punches. “The Silent Voices” has musically a 80’s new wave punk feel to it, again Joshua Lory’s baritone vocals carries the song well. “They Got No Soul” reminded me a little of the band Neon horse, the vocal delivery and the song in general has a very similar vibe to it. No! No!, I could not agree more with the sentiments of the lyrics of “NO NOW”, “Not left wing not right wing, I wanna kill that beast in the middle, anti-christ politicians, so over them just part of the riddle, Luciferian’s are vile all sold their souls, now step in line, Satanic pedo’s, kill children in blood sacrifice, Like a moth to the flame, they suck you in with their tractor-beam, a hidden language for all eyes to see secret societies, the masons think they’re free, their sacred sciences keep them in captivity, No NOW, I’m a pacifist till I get pissed, then I’ll pass a fist in righteousness ’cause I’m right in this, unrighteous mess of unholiness, in the highest place from the pope to the president , it’s evident their time is spent, with kings and queens with gnostic dreams, and it’s all right in front of our faces, No NOW.” Again Cast The Dragon take no short cuts in their word usage, and displaying a firm and strong base in their faith.
As we head to the end of the album, “Smokes and Mirrors” lends a Ramoneseque driven oddity, whilst the last track, “The Beginning And The End” brings a strong message, it’s a praise song of sorts that neatly wraps the album in thanks giving and in puts Jesus Christ in the centre of its message, like a salvation call at a end of sermon or concert. “We praise you, we thank you for all you have done, this world can’t defeat us, because of You, we have won, Messiah, our Savior, Yah’s Daughters and Sons, The Way, The Truth, The Life, the ultimate sacrifice, the Great Salvation, Yeshua the Christ.”
Cast The Dragon’s, “Annihilate The Adversary” is what got me to fall in love with Christian punk rock at the beginning of my walk with God, It’s not only good musically, but lyrically relevant and astute. It delivers world class musicianship, without lyrical compromise, it’s not complacent, forgoes pandering and gets to the point. Joshua Lory’s observational sincerity in his lyrics, exude with passion and realism, uncompromising of his faith. Musically you can hear from the three contributor’s the various influences of the bands as member have played with and somehow they have managed to make it work, whilst still retaining some originality to their work. Also I would like to put some credit to the likes of Bryan Gray and J. Powell for their contributions to a well mixed and mastered release.
Overall “Annihilate The Adversary” is a refreshing offering of a part of the Christian punk scene that brings back memories of bands like Scaterd Few and a few others that in their absence have left gaps in the scene. There is no fooling anyone in trying to think this is some award winning album release, but the importance of its release in the Christian punk rock culture serves as a reminder for me of the significant purpose and role we play as believers in Christ as musicians in terms of the message we choose to bring to the world.
For fans of bands like: Misfits, Ramones, Neon Horse, LSU, Leper, Dead Artist Syndrome, Scaterd Few, The Damned, TSOL and Dead Kennedy’s.
Written by Donovan de Necker
1. Days Of Noah
3. Through The Black
4. Kill All The Nephilim
5. Arch Angels
6. It’s Supernatural
7. This Love
8. While The Heathens Rage
9. Scream Out His Name
10. Screen Trolls
11. The Silent Voices
12. They Got No Soul
14. Smoke And Mirrors
15. The Beginning And The End
Joshua Lory-Vocals, Bass, Guitar
Skot Shaw-Keys, theremin
XL-Lead Guitar On W.I.T.C.H.E.S.
Release Date: Sept. 18th. 2020
Record Label: Thumper Punk Records
Engineered by Joshua Lory, Jim Chaffin, XL, and Skot Shaw @ various locations
Mixed by Bryan Gray
Mastered by J. Powell @ Steinhaus Mastering
Art and Layout by Nick Abraham