Barren Cross – “Birth Pangs” (30 Year Anniversary, Live at Elements of Rock 2012)


Barren Cross-live at EOR Barren Cross is a classic metal band that formed in Los Angeles in 1983. It started when Ray Parris (guitar) and Steve Whitaker (drums) were searching for a singer. Across town, singer Michael Drive (Lee) was looking for a guitarist. After they hooked up, Jim LaVerde was added on bass. Their initial ‘Believe’ EP (1985) was so successful that they recorded three more songs and released it as their first official full length album ‘Rock For The King’ (1986). Two years later, they signed to Enigma and released the awesome ‘Atomic Arena’ (1998). It is still influential today as Fozzy’s Chris Jericho recently mentioned it as one of his top ten albums. They followed this by ‘State Of Control’ (1989) and their first live album ‘Hotter Than Hell’ (1990). Michael Drive (Lee) had not been happy with the release of ‘Hotter Than Hell’ as it was recorded at one of the worst nights on that tour. After a respite, they would return with ‘Rattle Your Cage’ (1995).

Their initial return in 2008 saw Barren Cross playing reunion dates with Dean Kohn (ATTAKK, Loudness, Malice) on vocals. This rumbled along, but no-one could have predicted that all four original members would announce the release of their first official album in 18 years, ‘Birth Pangs’. It was recorded live at Elements of Rock festival in Switzerland. The band had not performed a concert for five years before appearing at EoR. As Michael was mixing and mastering the newly recorded tracks, he realized how strong their latest performance had been. Their new song ‘Whitewashed Love’ was provoked by Michael’s anger toward churches that he felt had not told him how to have a relationship with God. It may surprise many that Michael did not become a christian until 2006.

The album is a live rendition of their greatest hits and contains some songs that had not been performed for 25 years. The recording retains the concert atmosphere as you can hear the roar of the crowd and has not been polished to perfection. Michael’s voice has often been compared to Bruce Dickinson and you can certainly feel it here. The band’s passion has not diminished with age as they perform a blistering set. It is worth noting that this has been recorded as a two disc set and the second disc is recorded at a slightly lower volume than the first one. I think that most Barren Cross fans are hoping that there is also a new studio album forthcoming.

Rating: 8.5/10

Reviewed by Peter John Willoughby

Track listing:
1. Intro
2. Living Dead
3. Stage Of Intensity
4. Close To The Edge
5. The Unsuspecting
6. Two Thousand Years
7. Return Of The Light [1985 unreleased song]
8. Believe
9. Light The Flame
10. He Loves You
11. Dying Day
12. Bigotry Man
13. Here I Am
14. A Walk With God [New instrumental]
15. Whitewashed Love [New Song]
16. Rattle Your Cage
17. Deadlock
18. Cultic Regimes
19. Killers Of The Unborn

Band members:
Jim LaVerde – Bass
Steve Whitaker – Drums
Ray Parris – Guitars
Mike Lee Vocals – Guitars

Recorded at ‘Elements of Rock’ in Switzerland, March 2012

Record Label: Independent, Feb. 2014

Weblinks: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Buy the album here:
First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission

 Video below Full Concert at ‘Elements of Rock 2012’

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