382. Fortress Rock – Stronghold

FORTRESS ROCK (1982)

Stronghold

Canada’s Tunesmith label took a lot of heat over the years for mediocre, low quality production, less then stellar album covers and bands with only one release ever. yet despite all that the label also brought the industry some incredible and enduring albums. Those include early works from Servant, Third Day (no, not that Third day), Iva Twydell among others. Stronghold’s “Fortress Rock” ranks amongst the very best from the label.

Slow, plodding, dark and very, very heavy. Stronghold was Christian music’s answer to Black Sabbath without the Ozzyfied vocals. Five minute pounding blues influenced hard rock with tons of distortion and crunching guitar solos. This was before metal bands discovered spandex and Aqua Net and singers didn’t know what falsetto even was.

There are touches of Judas Priest, Jethro Tull and Bad Company to go with the Black Sabbath blues and it is all done in a straight ahead sledgehammer approach. There is no wondering whether a song is about God or a girlfriend here. In fact, the album opens with a Vocoder enhanced recording of “A Mighty Fortress” that blends right into the title track. Barrabas tells the story of the man who was chosen to be set free in place of Christ with an impassioned plea for the character to embrace the one for whom he was set free.

There is nothing under 4 minutes here and most tipping the 5 minute mark. Why is that important? Because good old fashioned kick butt hard rocks deserves the time it takes to bring the whole tune together, especially with an emphasis on guitar solos! Long, sustained and driving guitar solos!

When the heaviest music out there at the time was the more groove oriented AC/DC like Resurrection Band, Stronghold was a welcomed sight. For all of Tunesmith’s problems, they were able to release and introduce CCM to a totally different world of music than what the more mainstream Christian labels were brave enough to present.

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  1. paul
    October 22, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    The first cut on that album was a favorite of mine for many years.

  2. Brian
    October 29, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    This was one album I wish there was more of!
    Stronghold had a classic late 70’s feel and it was indeed strong
    I used to work in a stereo store and always played the title cut as loud as I could
    Dreams & Pretty Pictures was on par with the first track – powerful hard hitting rock
    But my initial favorite was the Dawn track
    I probably listened to this one over and over for months

    Later, I came to love the composition and guitar work on Nobody Owes You Nothing

    It was so timely, I just wonder what CCM would have become if we had more music like this.

  3. Shawn McLaughlin
    November 1, 2010 at 12:14 am

    Just found my re-issue copy of “Waiting For the Sun” bu Iva Twidell (he changed the spelling of his name several times). What a great album. That Third Day album is pretty interesting.

  4. Jay Molina
    December 15, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Wow, good to know people still like the album. I was the drummer on the album and wrote some of the songs. It is being re-released on CD in January after it gets remastered. We were ahead of our time.

    • Karen
      May 18, 2012 at 12:38 am

      Hi! We (my husband and I) not just liked the album when it first came out those many moons ago, but LOVED IT Brother! I am sooo glad that there is now a new re-release. We have been looking for a copy for years (we wore out the vinyl album). I am off now to get my copy! (Your sister in Christ)

  5. Pete Moore
    October 19, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Wow. Those were the days I guess. Jay Molina and I wrote the material, and it was a privilege to know and play with those brothers. I did the guitar work, and playing with Stronghold was a joy that I still miss sometimes. Praise Jesus Christ!

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