Barren Cross are a heavy metal band from California, USA that
was formed in 1983
Mike Lee (vocalist), Jim LeVerde (bassist), Steve Whittaker (drums) and Ray
Barren Cross - Believe (independent) 1985
2. "He Loves You"
3. "Just A Touch"
4. "Give Your Life"
5. "Light The Flame"
6. "Going Nowhere"
Barren Cross early promo photo
Before "Rock the King"
was released on Star Song, the band released a self financed vinyl EP titled
"Believe." The music contained herein is very similar to the Star
Song version of "Rock for the King," although it sounds as though
the mix or recording is a little rougher than that version. All six songs contained
on this album showed up on "Rock For the King" as well. This EP was
printed in two editions. Edition 1 was pressed by independently on the MPPA
label and had a blue cover with white text and logo (that's the one I have,
pictured above). The second pressing was licensed to Erika Records and had
a white cover and blue text and was pressed on blue vinyl, and possibly black
vinyl as well. (Scroll over the cover above to see the white version.)
Up until a few years ago,
I didn't even know this album existed and certainly did not have hope of ever
finding a copy of it once I did discover it. Well, what do you know but one
day I get an email from Barren Cross guitarist Ray Parris who offers to give
me his extra copy of "Believe". How cool is that? Thanks Ray. Had
it autographed at Cornerstone Califonria by the entire band. Note how Mike Lee
signed his name then put his new name (Mike Drive) in parenthesis under it.
Cross - Rock for the King (Star Song) 1986
debut was influenced by classic heavy metal bands like Judas
Priest, Queensryche and especially, Iron Maiden. The music is melodic
yet heavy and contains some killer hooks, yet it's not overtly commercial. I
remember bringing this one into my dorm room and playing it for a bunch of my
friends. Many of them thought it was awesome until I broke the news to them
that it was a Christian band. Pretty funny how that little tag can change someone's
opinion about a band. In anycase, vocalist Mike Lee has a strong voice, reminiscent
of Bruce Dickinson but certainly
not a carbon copy of Bruce. The lyrics on "Rock for the King" are
definitely coming from a Christian perspective, not unlike contemporaries Stryper,
but Barren Cross are a much less pop oriented musically than Stryper and a bit heavier as well. Almost two decades later this disc is still one of
my favorites. For years I held onto my vinyl copy as I had thought that this
CD didn't exist. Eventually, however, I was set straight by fellow CD collector
Ralf Walter. Of course I immediately set out to find an original CD copy. I
bid on this disc on eBay several times and watched the bidding go up to $35
a few times. I managed to pick up this copy for under $20. Autographed at Cornerstone
California '07 by Mike Lee, Jim
LeVerde and Steve Whittaker
- "Dying Day"
- "He Loves
- "It's All
Come True" (4:05)
- "Going Nowhere"
- "Rock For
The King" (5:02)
- "Give Your
- "Just A
- "Light The
the King" LP autographed by all four members
Barren Cross - Atomic Arena (Enigma) 1988
2. "Killer of the Unborn" (3:28)
3. "In The Eye of the Fire" (4:27)
4. "Terrorist Child" (3:30)
5. "Close to the Edge" (4:55)
6. "Dead Lock" (4:18)
7. "Cultic Regimes" (2:48)
8. "Heaven or Nothing" (4:10)
9. "King of Kings" (3:30)
10. "Living Dead" (6:50)
this album! It is one of the greatest Christian heavy metal albums to
come out of the 80's. The band received some MTV and radio play over this
one. The sound is a mixture of the heaviest Judas
Priest and Iron Maiden.
The lyrics are less Stryper-Rock
for the Rock, type of lyrics and deal more with social issues like abortion
("Killer of the Unborn"), drug abuse ("Dead Lock"),
destructive cults ("Cultic Regimes") and the responsibility
of the musician to their audience ("Imaginary Music"). The one
exception would be "King of Kings," which is a heavy song about
Jesus. Good production with a very big drum sound and some raw Mesa Boogie
this CD autographed by Jim LeVerde when I ran into him at Cornerstone
'05 in the Sanctuary tent. Just happened to have my copy of "Atomic
Arena" sitting in my car.
Barren Cross - State of Control (Enigma) 1989
1. "State of
2. "Out of Time" (4:09)
3. "Cryin' Over You" (4:53)
4. "A Face in the Dark" (3:55)
5. "The Stage of Intensity" (6:36)
6. "Hard Lies" (4:18)
7. "Inner Wars" (4:09)
8. "Love at Full Volume" (2:28)
9. "Bigotry Man (Who Are You)" (4:42)
10. "Two Thousand Years" (7:09)
11. "Your Love Gives" (3:46)
11. "Escape in the Night" (3:54)
Barren Cross bassist Jim LeVerde and myself.
Following in the footsteps of "Atomic Arena" Barren Cross created another heavy metal monster. This time around however, there were a couple more melodic, commercial sounding songs like "Hard Lies," but a majority of the disc is just quality American heavy metal. "Two Thousand Years" and "Stage of Intensity" are two of my favorite Barren Cross songs ever! Both are epic heavy metal numbers with some killer vocals and guitar work. "Stage of Intensity" starts off as an acoustic number before kicking into a full throttle rocker. "Two Thousand Years" is a heavy galloping number with a strong message about their faith.
When this first came out I purchased the cassette that didn't include "Two Thousand Years". It wasn't until later that I found out that there were multiple track listings for this album. There are two versions of the CD, a more common version that has "Escape in the Night" instead of the ballad "Your Love Gives" and a second version, distributed to Christian stores through Benson that contains "Your Love Gives." instead of "Escape in the Night." I had the "Your Love Gives" version autographed by all four members at the Extreme Martigras Festival in Anaheim, CA in August 16, 2001. I also own the more common "Escape in the Night" version.
Barren Cross - Hotter Than Hell Live! (Restless) 1990
2. "Dying Day" (4:01)
3. "Killers of the Unborn" (3:22)
4. "Close to the Edge" (4:56)
5. "Going Nowhere" (4:53)
6. "Dead Lock" (4:11)
7. "Opus to the Third Heaven" [instrumental] (4:21)
8. "King of Kings" (6:45)
9. "In the Eye of the Fire" (6:52)
10. "Rock for the King" (5:25)
11. "Light the Flame" (7:40)
12. "Terrorist Child" (6:13)
13. "King Jesus and Blues Jam" (4:24)
14. "Give Your Life" (5:06)
album title for a Christian metal band. Not a bad live offering, although it
is quite obvious that Mike Lee is a bit strained after a long tour as his voice
sometimes is struggling to reach the higher notes. This is one of those live
discs that has not been doctored in the studio. I actually prefer when bands
fix the mistakes, but I can understand the honesty factor as well. I think this
disc was released to fulfill the band's contract to Enigma Records.
Barren Cross - Rock for the King (Medussa) 1986/1990
2. "He Loves You" (4:38)
3. "It's All Come True" (4:02)
4. "Believe" (2:17)
5. "Going Nowhere" (3:47)
6. "Killer of the Unborn" [live] (3:57)
7. "Rock for the King" (5:05)
8. "Give Your Life" (2:54)
9. "Just a Touch" (3:27)
10. "Light the Flame" (5:25)
11. "Dead Lock" [live] (4:20)
12. "Cultic Regimes" [live] (2:47)
13. "He Loves You" [live] (4:14)
14. "Living Dead" [live] (7:11)
15. "Heaven or Nothing" [live] (4:59)
The 'secular' reissue
of "Rock for the King" was released, most likely, to fulfill
an album contract with the struggling Enigma Records and was released
on Enigma sub-label Medusa. The reissue contains new artwork, the nine
remastered, premixed studio tracks and six live bonus tracks. The remix
was done by Ronnie Montrose. I thought it was quite annoying that they
stuck in a live track right in the middle of the studio tracks. I would
rather have had all the live tracks at the end of the disc. Personally
I like the original mix better. I even like the original cover art better.
Jim LeVerde at
Extreme MartiGras 2002
photo by Scott Waters
at Extreme MartiGras 2002.
photo by Jeff
Barren Cross - Rattle Your Cage (Rugged) 1994
1. "Rattle Your
2 "Here I Am" (3:29)
3. "Unsuspecting" (3:57)
4. "No Time to Run" (3:35)
5. "Sick" (3:27)
6. "Somewhere Far Away" (2:52)
7. "Feed the Fire" (3:37)
8. "Let It Go Let It Die" (4:49)
9. "Time For Love" (3:10)
10. "J.R.M." (3:52)
11. "Your Will" (3:47)
12. "Midnight Son" (5:19)
After a five year break, Barren Cross get back together and record three songs for Patriot/Rugged Records compilation "Premium Cuts" before releasing this full length studio album. As if all those years hadn't past, Barren Cross records a great follow-up to "State of Control." The music is still traditional heavy metal but has a more modern production which gives the overall sound a heavier edge than anything they had done in the past. The heavier numbers such as the title track, "Sick" and "Unsuspecting" are hooky, riff-oriented and some of the finest in the band's catalog. Vocalist Mike Lee seems to be more aggressive vocally than on previous Barren Cross platters, especially on these songs. As with every Barren Cross album there are some ballads as well. This time around there is the worshipful "Your Will" and the acoustic "Somewhere Far Away". "J.R.M" is a funny song about an encounter with a woman with an attitude.
The Unsuspecting" also showed up in an acoustic version of Mike's solo disc (Mike Naeyert) as well as on a demo CD he recorded in 2002 under the name Drive.
Barren Cross also
appeared on: California Metal compilation,
Premium Cuts compilation and, more recently, the Extreme Martigras Compilation.
Mike Naeyert | Bare Bones | P.K.
bassist Jim LeVerde signing my LPs, Cornerstone California 2007.
with Barren Cross vocalist Mike Lee (aka Mike Drive), Cornerstone California