106. Warrior – Arkangel
Featuring Kemper Crabb, Arkangel’s “Warrior” has become one of the most sought after and expensive collector’s item’s in CCM history. From the stunning album artwork to the brilliant art rock performed perfectly, there is really no doubt as to why this is such a sought after project. The artwork and the music conjure up images of Tolkein and “middle Earth,” crusades and knights in shining armor.
Primarily a moody and melodic (and dare I say worshipful), there are moments of hard and progressive rock rock. Labeled often a progressive rock masterpiece, art rock is a better label. More thoughtful and contemplative than its contemporaries, Crabb revels in the classical, meditative and majestic musical styles employed. Crabb also demonstrates a diversity of musical taste and instrumentation, with nearly 40 instruments represented on the project with Crabb responsible for playing roughly 30 of them.
On a side note, I believe fans of Daniel Amos’ “Shotgun Angel” will find quite a bit to like here. Not as country rock or Beatlesque, but there is a similarity in musical and artistic expression found here. Despite the clear artistic endeavor the album is lyrically very “Christian” and Gospel centered.
The title track would later be covered by Caedmon’s Call on their first worship album and works as an introduction to the feel and sound of the entire project. Paradox is just a great acoustic rock song, perfectly suited for its day to be a mainstream radio hit, if not the blatant Jesus content.
It should be noted here just how well produced the album is. Given that it was released on the burgeoning Star Song label with a distinctly limited budget, the album sounds fantastic. Vocals are clear, strings are ample and the instrumentation is more than just solid, but at times exquisite. Bekah Crabb adss vocals on a few songs as well.
The heaviest number is the nearly six minute “Morning Anthem.” Taking the worshipful lyrical cue from “Warrior,” Morning Anthem is a stunning rocker that calls the worshippers to dance before the Lord. heavy, harmonic and powerful. For the time it would rank amongst the “heavier” songs in CCM and one of the truly rare instances of progressive rock in the genre.
There was never a follow up to this amazing project and that is a real shame. Another journey to Middle Earth spiritually and metaphorically would have been a great delight. But alas, like most of the most progressive and artistic endeavors in CCM, it never found an audience. Though some 30 years later that limited audience is willing to part with large sums of money to discover (or rediscover) this amazing project.