Petra: Beyond Belief
In the 1980's, Christian rock found it's place in the music world. While not becoming entirely mainstream, disenfranchised church kids who had become bored with slow, 3/4 hymns, embraced it. Many bands emerged during the 80's and early 90's such as One Bag Pig, DeGarmo & Key, and Whiteheart. The music spectrum was fairly broad, and there was really something for everyone. If you wanted a hard-rocking anthem, you had Stryper's 'To Hell With The Devil'. If you wanted a great, sing-along style ballad, there was White Cross' 'In The Kingdom'. Yes, it was a good time to be a Christian youth, and a bad time to be a Hitler youth. Oh how things have changed..., but I digress.
Petra released their first, self-titled album in 1974, and gained some success with thier 1982 album 'More Power To Ya'. After a few line-up changes, the band hit their stride, releasing three consecutive great albums: 'This Means War!' (1987), 'On Fire!' (1988), and 'Beyond Belief'. Beyond Belief was a landmark album, garnering them their first Grammy and several Dove awards. Along with the album, they released a Mini-movie with the same name. I'm going to be referencing the movie occasionally, so I should explain the premise. It's like a short movie, with plot, suspence and all that jazz, but at semi-appropriate times, it plays a song from the album, mixing together scenes from the plot, shots of the band, and shots of random things that may or may not have some relevence to the lyrics. Alright, let's move on to the songs shall we?
1. Armed and Dangerous - I can see why conservative parents might have been a little wary of this music. When I hear the phrase 'armed and dangerous', my first thought is of some psycho with a katana, not spiritual warfare. And until the chorus plays, the song sounds like it could be about any type of war.
Now our wounded lay on every side
Now this call to arms can't be denied
The enemy will tremble
As young and old assemble
A mighty army up in arms
There's a part in the chorus that says 'This armor is worth it's weight, no weapon can penetrate'. Now when I was young, I thought this was refering to physical weight. It was only after listennig to the song again recently that I realized it was a little deeper than that. Boy I was a shallow youth. This song is a great opening to the album. From the moment the drums fade in, it rocks all the way through.
2. I Am On The Rock - In the video of this song, (in the movie), the band shots show John Schlitt standing on some rocks while singing. Despite this overly cliched instance of literalty, I knew that the Rock they were refering to was faith in God. Guess I'm not as shallow as I thought, or maybe it's because I'm not a cerebral midget. Whatever. The chorus has great sing-along potential, and the guitar, while not the fanciest out there, is still pretty darn good.
3. Creed - I never really liked this song. Probably because it starts off with just synth and vocals, doesn't get heavy until 1:15 in, and I had ADD. Well, I didn't really, but after NES came out, any child that played it might as well have had ADD. If I had actually let the VHS play, and not fast-forwarded through this song, I may have discovered that it's actually a damn good song. Wait, can Christian music be damn good? I don't know, but we'll say yes for the time being. If were to do a live show, I'd want this song to open the show. It'd be all dark, then dry ice would flood the stage. Cue the synthesizer, and when the vocals come in, the lead singer would rappel down from the rafters.
4. Beyond Belief - Here we have the title track of the album, and a fine piece of work it is.
We're content to pitch our tent
When the glory's evident
Personally, I'm more than happy to pitch my tent when I see God's glory shining through in one of His marvelous creations. I don't mind giving up a rib considering the return. Hell, I'd give up another one if bigamy was legal. Wait, I'm supposed to be reviewing a song, sorry. Even though the beginning of this song may sound like a MIDI file, it is definitely the high point of the album. All I really remember about the video for this one is Louie Weaver spinning a drumstick around his fingers waiting for his time to start playing. I'm not one to judge someone's eating habits, but come on, leave Colonel Sanders at home. My music tastes may differ from yours, but I love the outro to this song. It sounds great.
5. Love - I always hated this song. Mainly because the video showed scenes of old people kissing, and frankly, that's disgusting. Now that it's been at least a decade since I've seen the video, I can go back and appreciate the song for its lyrical and musical content. All in all, it isn't a bad song. It's slower, but the acoustic at the opening is good, and the song is easy on the ears. It's sort of like..., oh man, I just had a flashback of old people kissing. That's it, I'm done with this one.
6. Underground - This song is a great song to listen to during black history month. It's a mini-biography of Harriet Tubman and her work with the Underground Rai...
. . . .
Screw you Will Riker. You and the horse you rode in on. Just because you're Beyond Belief sucks, doesn't mean you can come in here and interrupt mine. Go away Number One, the bridge is mine. Now where was I? Oh yeah. This track has an awesome bridge and proudly proclaims that when faced with adversity, 'I won't go underground'. If this song had been written 50 years earlier, maybe Anne Frank would still be alive.
7. Seen And Not Heard - I really love this song. Both on a musical and a philosophical level. It admonishes people who talk the talk, but don't walk the walk. 'Actions speak a little louder than words.' I like this song, because I don't like hypocrites. I hate them. In fact, the only thing I hate more than hypocrites are bigots. You know, the kind of people who would take the opening line of this song, 'Too many black sheep in the family', and make some racial comment like 'If it ain't white, it ain't right.' Stop spreading the hate you bigots.
8. Last Daze - The last three songs on the album aren't featured in the movie, so I'm not as familiar with them. But after listening to them, I think I can affirmatively say that they aren't featured because they aren't as good. Dont' get me wrong, this song has a good solo, but it's just a little too long for it's own good, and I fear things are only going to go downhill from here.
9. What's In A Name - The only good thing I can say about this song is that clocking in at 3:34, it's the shortest song on the album. The chorus is just plain annoying. Honestly, I can think of nothing worthwhile, witty or otherwise, to say about the song. Therefore, I will not dwell on it, and will instead move on to the last song.
10. Prayer - If this track were anywhere but at the end, it would be inexcusably bad. As a closing song though, it sort of works for me. It's just vocals and synthisizer throughout. There is some accompanying trumpet, but I suspect that it is also synthisized. At first I thought it sounded sort of Queen-esque, but didn't really go anywhere. Despite its shortcomings, the track is a good ending to a great 44 minutes.
I loved this cassette as a kid, and even 15 years after the fact, I still love most of the songs. I hope this artcile wasn't too preachy, and I also hope that I don't get struck dead by lightning. Barring that, I shall continue to listen to these songs, and hope that other people will as well. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go visit rotten.com to try and get the image of old people kissing out of my head.
Posted by: Valdronius
F-bomb count: 0