Roughly 30 years ago, Christian punk rock pioneers, The Lead, released Burn this Record and now the whole thing has been remastered and re-released with a bunch of previously unreleased bonus track demos.
The Lead are one of those bands that have remained pretty much a well-kept secret over the years. From their beginnings in 1984 or so, The Lead released seven different albums/eps to go along with four other self-released titles before ending up on Roxx Records to release This Past Behind and Burn this Record in 1989. In 2018, the band released the Again (ep) on Roxx Records and now have followed it up with this re-release.
The Lead certainly are one of those bands where I look back and wonder how I missed them. I keep seeing the label “Christian punk rock pioneers” applied to them, but especially with Burn This Record, I’m thinking there more like the thrashy-crossover SOD, but with obviously different lyrical content. Musically, most of the songs tend to lean toward the ultra-fast more metal sounding riffs and freight train drumming. Nina Llopis vocals have that challenging, in-your-face punk rock sneer and work really well even in this metal/punk hybrid. A good introduction for the unknowing is the “Skate or Die” lyric video from the remastered version here. Lyrics are boldly Christian and pull no punches, being very straightforward. As I noted on my review of the Again (ep) the songs tend to go on a bit longer than they really should almost as if the band had parts of other songs they couldn’t finish, so they added them into existing tracks. That being said, one component that I do really like in some of these sections are the screaming guitar solos that seem to explode out of the mix, reminding me of some older Greg Ginn craziness.
From the opening riff of “Change the World”, the punk rock label gets called into question. This almost sounds like a more metallic version of Agnostic Front Victim In Pain from roughly the same era, which to me sounded like a metal version of Minor Threat. Songs are fast and brutal, while Nina Llopis vocals are clear and paced slower than the guitars and drums. The songs end to be in the 3-5 minute range, which is crazy long for punk rock songs, but then again, there really aren’t any rules in punk rock and Julio Rey, Robbie Christie, and Andy Coyle can actually play their instruments well , so guitar solos make sense.
Songs like “Suicide is a Lie” start out with a melodic, hardcore-like song intro before launching into the metal/thrash and the vocal delivery in songs like “Internal Pain” remind me of early Cro-Mags and the overall tempo and structure in sections of “Losers” could easily be reminiscent of “Injustice System” by Sick of It All, albeit the guitar solo in “Losers” is where that comparison would end. If one tries hard enough the intro to “The Empty Sepulchre” almost sounds like some early Motley Crue, which I guess is my way of fitting the sound of The Lead into what I know and what I grew up with. I wish I had grown up with The Lead as the band ticks off a lot of the boxes for music I love: confrontational, fast riffs and drums, blazing guitar solos, and something that doesn’t fit into any one category. Despite the expert remastering by Rob Colwell, the overall sound does bring one back to the late 80s but what a fun ride it is.
Written by John Jackson
1. Change the World
2. Boring World
3. Suicide is a Lie
4. Internal Pain
5. Hope You Stay Alive
6. Oh No, Not Again
7. To the Ends of the Earth
9. Who’s The Victim
10. I Can’t Find it in My Heart
11. Skate or Die
12. Kill Satan Mosh
13. The Empty Sepulchre
15. Wink of an Eye
16. Internal Pain (demo 4/89)
17. Defy (demo 4/89)
18. Change the World (demo 4/89)
19. Oh No, Not Again (demo 4/89)
20. Skate or Die (demo 4/89)
21. Losers (demo 4/89)
22. Who’s the Victim (demo 4/89)
Nina Llopis – bass, vocals
Julio Rey – guitar, vocals
Andy Coyle – guitar
Robbie Christie – drums, vocals
Record Label: Roxx Productions,
Release Date: 2019 (recorded in 1989)
Lyric video for ‘Skate or Die’