Barnabas - Feel the Fire/Little Foxes

Retroactive Records


When I really got into metal it was in the very early '90's and heavy metal was already on its way out as one of the most popular styles of music.  Yeah, it will always be big to all of us metalheads, but back then metal was "in".  But as it faded from the mainstream and styles like pop punk and hardcore started to rise in popularity, many metal fans jumped ship and followed the trender styles...only leaving the diehards to wave the metal flag.  Well, even before I got into metal there were numerous metal bands that I just didn't ever have a chance to get into as their albums were sometimes out of print before I had even heard their name.  One such band was Barnabas.  Now thanks to Retroactive Records, these two Barnabas albums are finally available to the masses again....(and for me, the first time).
This release is two albums on one CD.  The first is Barnabas' 1984 release Feel the Fire.  The other is their 1986 and final release Little Foxes.  One thing that is unmistakably obvious when listening to both of these discs, and that is this is some straight up 1980's hard rock/heavy metal music.  Of course, you've got the heavy guitars, the soaring solos, and the screaming vocals.  But you've also got all those funky keyboard sounds that just wanna make you bust out in laughter.  Especially on the song "Hearts", which probably could have been on '80's mainstream radio...or maybe on a cheesy '80's movie. 
Anyways....thankfully the entire two discs are nothing really like the sounds on the song "Hearts".  The band actually rocks pretty hard on most of the songs here.  The vocalist is Nancy Jo Mann, who is obviously female.  She has a pretty good voice, sounding somewhat like a cross between the chic in Wedding Party and Wendy Kaiser of Resurrection Band.  Although, Mann is a much better and consistent singer than Kaiser.
Many fans of Barnabas consider Feel the FIre to be their best record.  Of the two here, Feel the Fire keeps my attention more, although Little Foxes is a little bit of a heavier album.  Songs like "Breathless Wonderment" and "Feel the Fire" are actually pretty decent tunes.  Nothing I'm going to want to listen to everyday, but good when you are wanting a blast from the past.  I could easily see this band holding their own with many of the other bands in their genre back in the day.
Lyrically, the band pens some good material.  Many of the bands of that day really wrote some cheesy lyrics.  Barnabas writes some interesting and bold lyrics that really tend to make you think.  They also can be very worshipful at times.  And then at times they seem to paint a dark picture of mankind.  Take the lyrics of "Northern Lights" for instance..."Racing like lemmings to the brink of holocaust/With scant concern for cost/We fall before the god of pleasure/jeopardizing without measure/the rarest gem of everlasting life/With staggering shortsightedness our golden calves are raised/ignoring former days/Gambling with our heritage in this self-seeking age."
To further entice fans to buy this disc, Retroactive has added some bonus material on the CD including band pictures and a band history write-up that is viewable in a web browser.  This release is limited to 1000 copies, so fans should act fast before these releases go out of print again.  (Review by Matt)